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Home Energy Savings Tips
Silicon Valley Energy Watch logoImproving Energy Efficiency
Whether you are a renter or homeowner, learn what you can do right now to increase the energy efficiency in your home at low or no cost.

  • Replace incandescent bulbs with fluorescent lamps with screw-in bases. Fluorescent lamps can give the same amount of light as incandescent bulbs. A 26Watt CFL has equivalent light output to a 100 watt incandescent bulb and produces 75% less heat while lasting up to 10 times longer.
  • One bulb is better than two. Use one higher wattage CFL bulb instead of a couple of lower wattage ones. One 26-watt bulb produces equivalent light to that of two 13-watt bulbs.
  • Turn off lights when not being used (even energy-saving fluorescents).

Air Conditioning & Heating
  • Man caulking a window outsideReplace or clean furnace filters once a month. Dirty filters restrict airflow and increase energy use. Keep your furnace clean, lubricated and properly adjusted to save on heating costs.
  • Install a programmable thermostat. If you have a heat pump, select a thermostat designed for heat pumps. You can save around 10% a year on your heating and cooling bills by simply turning your thermostat back 10°–15° for eight hours.
  • Set your thermostat to 78 degrees or higher during the summer. Save 1-3% per degree of cooling cost for each degree over 72.
  • Turn your thermostat down to 68 degrees during the day during the winter. Save anywhere between 5-12% of your heating costs.
  • Don't turn your thermostat lower that normal to cool your home faster. The house will still cool at the same rate and energy will be wasted.
  • Plug your home's leaks. Install weather-stripping or caulk leaky doors and windows and install gaskets behind outlet covers. To find out more, attend a workshop on basic home weatherization.
  • Repair and seal ducts. Leaking ductwork accounts for about 25% of heating costs in an average California home.
  • Increase ceiling insulation. If your ceiling is not insulated or scantily insulated, consider increasing your insulation to reduce heating costs by up to 25%. Insulation is measured by R-Value. The R-value in insulation designates its resistance to heat flow. The higher the R-value, the greater the insulating ability - the more effective it is. Generally speaking, each time you double the R-value of insulation, you cut your conduction heat loss in that area in half. For more information about determining the R-value for an existing house, visit the Department of Energy's insulation web page.
  • When you're away from home during the summer cooling months, turn off your cooling system completely. This could add up to 5-20% of cooling costs.
  • Keep your fireplace damper closed unless a fire is burning to prevent your furnace-heated air from going up the chimney.

  • Select the most energy-efficient model when buying a new ENERGY STAR refrigerator, washer, or other appliance. Energy Star appliances use 10-50% less energy then standard models.
  • Give your refrigerator breathing room against the wall, clean the coils, and don't set the temperature too low. Fresh foods keep at 37-42 degrees Fahrenheit; frozen foods keep at 0-5 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Open door on your refrigerator or freezer only when necessary. Each time you open the refrigerator door, the compressor will run for 8-10 minutes to keep the inside cold.
  • Unplug the spare refrigerator in the garage if you don't truly need it. This seemingly convenient way to keep extra drinks cold adds up to 20% of energy cost. And, if PG&E provides your power, you can get $75 for getting rid of it! Call 1-800-599-5798 for more information.
  • Unplug small appliances and electronic devices when not in use. Many new TVs, VCRs, computers peripherals and chargers use electricity even when they are switched off.

Water Heating
  • Keep the tank clean. Periodically drain off the sediment in the bottom of the tank. Sediment buildup can insulate the water from the heating element. Open the drain valve or faucet at the base of the water tank and drain a gallon or two of water into a container until it runs clean.
  • Give your water heater a vacation too. When you leave your home for a weekend or longer, turn your electric water heater off (check your owner's manual for the manufacturer's instructions), or turn your gas water heater to the "pilot" setting. Electric water heaters are most easily shut off using the circuit breaker panel. Turning off a water heater for less than 48 hours is not recommended.
  • Wrap the hot water tank with jacket insulation if your hot water heater doesn't have an "Energy Guide" label indicating it is energy efficient. This is especially valuable for older water heaters with little internal insulation. Be sure to leave the air intake vent uncovered (save up to 10% on water heating costs).

Hot Water Use
  • Install low-flow showerheads and faucets or flow restrictors. Save 10-16% of water heating costs.
  • Take showers instead of baths, and shorten your shower time. Baths use 4.5 times more hot water than showers, and cutting your shower in half can reduce water heating costs by 33%.
  • Check for leaks. In just one month, a leaking hot water faucet can waste hundreds of gallons of hot water.
  • Set your water heater thermostat to the "normal" setting or 120 degrees, unless the owner's manual for your dishwasher requires a higher setting. Save up to 7-11% of your water heating costs.
  • Operate your dishwasher only with full loads. And if the manufacturer's instructions permit, open the door of the dishwasher at the end of the last rinse cycle, rather than using the drying cycle.
  • Avoid using the "rinse hold" setting on your dishwasher which uses up to seven more gallons of hot water per use. Use shorter cycles in the dishwasher.
  • Wash clothes in cold or warm water. Always rinse in cold water. Wash full loads or adjust the water level to fit the size of you load. Using cold water reduces your washer's energy use by 75%.

Clothes Drying
  • Dry two or more loads in a row, taking advantage of the heat still in the dryer from the first load.
  • Don't over dry clothes; it wastes energy, causes shrinkage, and shortens the life of the clothes
More tips from PG&E
Get an energy audit. You can call PG&E's Smarter Energy Line to get an energy specialist to help you with your home energy audit, or you can do a simple self-audit by direct mail or the Internet. Contact PG&E to learn where your energy dollar goes.

Take advantage of energy efficiency programs. PG&E is offering rebates and other programs that can help you finance major energy efficiency improvements for your home. Call the Smarter Energy Line at 1-800-933-9555 for more information. 

This program is funded by California utility customers and administered by PG&E under the auspices of the California Public Utilities Commission.