High energy use not only has environmental impacts but it can hit you personally in the pocketbook. Here is a list of helpful suggestions that can help you reduce energy consumption in your household. You’ll also find water conservation and recycling tips.


  • Clean or replace heater and air conditioner filters regularly. Keep outside vents free of leaves or debris that may clog vents.
  • When the heat is on, set your thermostat at as low a level as you feel comfortable. You save for each degree you lower the average temperature of your home.
  • Close doors to seldom used rooms and turn off heat or air conditioning in these areas.
  • Keep windows near your thermostat tightly closed; otherwise it will keep your furnace working after the rest of the house is heated to the desired temperature.
  • If you have oil heat, have the firing rate checked periodically.
  • Dust and vacuum radiator surfaces frequently. Dust and grime impede the flow of heat.
  • Keep draperies and shades open in sunny windows; close them at night.
  • For comfort in cooler indoor temperatures, use the best insulation of all — warm clothing.
  • Use kitchen, bath, and other exhaust fans sparingly. These fans can blow away a house full of heated or cooled air in an hour.


  • Keep your cooling system well-tuned by a professional service person.
  • Clean or replace air conditioner filters regularly.
  • Set your air conditioner thermostat as high as you still feel reasonably comfortable.
  • Don’t set the thermostat at a colder setting than normal when you turn on your air conditioner. Your house will not cool any faster.
  • If you have window air conditioners, turn them off when a room will be vacant for a few hours. You’ll use less energy cooling the room down later than if you had left the unit running.
  • Use a fan in conjunction with your window air conditioner.
  • Don’t place lamps or TV sets near your air-conditioning thermostat. Heat from these items is sensed by the thermostat and could cause the air conditioner to run longer than necessary.
  • Keep out daytime sun with blinds or shades.
  • Dress appropriately for the warmer indoor temperatures.
  • Open the windows and use a fan on warmer days.


  • Use large appliances in the early morning and late evening.
  • Use cold water rather than hot when running the garbage disposal.
  • Keep range top burners and reflectors clean so your stove operates at peak efficiency.
  • When using an oven or an electric burner, turn it off a little while before the cooking is done. The oven or element will stay hot after you turn it off.
  • When you have a choice, use the range top instead of the oven.
  • Use your dishwasher and washing machine only with full loads.
  • Scrape dishes before loading them into the dishwasher so you won’t have to rinse them.
  • Let your dishes air dry.
  • Don’t use the “rinse hold” on your dishwasher for just a few soiled dishes.Dry clothes in the sun (check your covenants, clotheslines are prohibited in some communities).


  • Minimize hot water use by taking shorter showers and washing your clothes in cold water.
  • Try setting your water heater at 120 degrees.


  • Keep your fireplace damper closed unless you have a fire going. An open damper can let as much as 8% of your heat go out the chimney. The warmth from a fire on the hearth generally doesn’t radiate through the house; the heat gain is confined to the room with the fireplace. In fact, a considerable amount of heated air from other parts of the house can go wastefully up the chimney when a fire is going.
  • To lessen heat loss when you use your fireplace and the furnace is on, lower the thermostat setting to 50 or 55 degrees. Some warmed air will still be lost, but the furnace won’t have to use as much fuel to keep the rest of the house at its usual temperature.
  • Close all doors and warm air ducts to the room with the fireplace, and open a window near the fireplace half an inch to an inch. Air needed by the fire will be provided through the open window, and the amount of heated air drawn from the rest of the house will be reduced.


  • Take showers rather than baths. Showers use about a third as much water.
  • Take shorter showers.
  • Avoid leaving the water running while shaving and brushing teeth.
  • Don’t use the toilet as a trash can.
  • Use the dishwasher and washing machine only with full loads.
  • Don’t run water continuously for vegetable and dish washing.
  • Water lawns in the morning to avoid evaporation.
  • Keep grass at least two inches high to shade roots.
  • Use mulch or ground covering plants to prevent excessive evaporation.
  • Use waste water from the house to water your garden.
  • Plant native or drought tolerant plants.
  • Water trees slowly, deeply and infrequently to encourage deep rooting. A slow drip for an hour once a week should be sufficient for most trees.
  • Use a broom rather than the hose to clean off walkways, patios and other outdoor areas.
  • When washing your car, use a bucket of water or a hose with an automatic shut-off nozzle instead of letting the hose run.


  • Reduce the amount of garbage you generate by buying and using products wisely:
  • “Precycle” by purchasing products in recyclable containers. Recycling saves energy, natural resources and landfill space
  • Purchase foods in bulk or concentrate.
  • Avoid products that are neither reusable nor easily recyclable.
  • At work, make two-sided photocopies.
  • Use cloth towels in the kitchen rather than paper towels.
  • Stop unwanted junk mail by removing your name from mailing lists.


  1. Start a compost pile with your leaves and grass clippings.
  2. Leave a coffee mug or two at work and avoid using disposable cups.
  3. Use blank back sides of used paper for scratch work.
  4. Look into purchasing quality used items instead of new ones.
  5. Take your grocery bags back to the market and reuse them.
  6. Mend clothes and repair broken items.
  7. Take care of your belongings to help them last longer. In particular, try to keep your car on a regular maintenance schedule.
  8. Use products that are made to be reused, such as cloth towels, sponges, glass dishes and metal eating utensils (rather than paper and plastic), rechargeable batteries, etc.
  9. Drop off your used motor oil, antifreeze, and car batteries at places that recycle automotive wastes.
  10. Donate clothing, books, toys, appliances and furniture to charitable organizations.

* Reprinted with permission from National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)