Whether you live in a house, a condo, or an apartment, you can try new habits to reduce your home energy usage.
Are you ready to save money and energy? Many of these tips require little to no effort or out-of-pocket expense. Over time, you will see your energy efficiency increase and your savings multiply.
Light Up for Less
- Install Light-Emitting Diode (LED) light bulbs. LEDs use 90% less electricity, generate less heat, and last 10-25 times longer than regular incandescent bulbs, and five times longer than Compact Florescent Light bulbs (CFLs).
- Turn off unneeded lights, even when leaving a room for a short time. Lights generate heat that increases room temperature. Lighting accounts for about 10% of your energy use.
Don’t Let Your Electronics Waste Energy
- Unplug appliances and electronic devices when you are not using them. They use energy even when they are turned off.
- Use power strips in home offices, entertainment centers, and other areas. Turn the strip off when not in use.
- Purchase a "smart strip" that powers only the devices that need to stay on.
- Use timers on surge protectors when they are difficult to get to.
- Turn off ceiling fans when you leave the room. Fans cool people, not rooms.
Monitor Your Energy Usage
Log in to City of Austin Utilities Online Customer Care regularly to check your usage, get customized tips for saving energy, and set alerts to help you avoid high bills.
Manage Energy Use with Laundry and Dishes
- Run washing machines and dishwashers on a full load.
- Choose cold or warm water to wash your clothes. This saves money and makes your clothes last longer.
- Choose the air dry cycle on your dishwasher.
- Dry loads of clothes back-to-back to take advantage of heat built up in the dryer.
- Clean the lint filter after every load. Your dryer will dry more efficiently, requiring less running time.
- Close the door to the dryer room to keep heat from entering the rest of the house.
Control Your Water Heater
- Set the temperature no higher than 120 degrees to save around $45 a year.
- Use the vacation setting when you are away.
- Wrap your water heater with an insulation blanket. This can reduce energy use by 10% to 15%. An insulating blanket will pay for itself in less than a year.
- Consider installing a timer on your water heater. This will keep it from heating the water continuously when the temperature goes below the thermostat setting. The water heater will only heat water when the timer allows.
Cook and Cool Smart in the Kitchen
- Check your refrigerator and freezer temperatures. You can save up to 25% by setting your refrigerator temperature between 36 and 38 degrees and your freezer between 0 and 5 degrees.
- Gently vacuum the refrigerator's condenser coils about every three months. Excessive dust buildup makes the refrigerator work harder and run longer. The coils are located in the back or under the bottom of the refrigerator.
- Make sure your refrigerator and freezer doors seal properly. To test, close the door over a dollar bill. If the dollar pulls out easily, you may need to replace the seal around the door or adjust the door latch.
- Let food cool before placing in refrigerator (unless the recipe says otherwise). Warm food will cause your refrigerator to run more.
- Cook outdoors or use the microwave. Microwaves use up to 70% less energy, cook food up to 75% faster, and produce much less heat than an electric or gas oven.
- Keep the oven door closed. Oven temperature drops by 25 to 30 degrees every time you open the oven door, which slows cooking.
- If you are using your oven for an hour or more, shut the kitchen off from the rest of your home and turn on the stove exhaust to help take heat out.
- Never place aluminum foil on an oven bottom (for instance, to catch drippings). The foil may block heat or air circulation and reduce the oven temperature as much as 50 degrees. It may also interfere with even browning.
- Cook with lids on pots to reduce energy use and heat. This will bring liquids to a boil more quickly and will allow continued cooking at lower temperature settings.
- Use glass and ceramic pans. They retain heat better than metal pans and can lower the baking temperature by 25 degrees.
- Try to cook in the morning. Kitchen heat can make your air conditioner work harder during the hotter parts of the day.
- Cover exhaust fans when not in use. An open kitchen exhaust fan allows hot/cold outside air to come into your home. Low-cost covers are available to cover exhaust fan openings.
Manage Air Conditioning & Heating
- Clean or change air filters monthly. Dirty filters make your system work longer than necessary.
- If you have central air and heat, do not close vents in unused rooms. This could increase pressure and cause duct leaks.
- If you have a window unit, close off unused rooms.
- Use a programmable, Internet-connected thermostat. It will automatically adjust the temperature and save you money while you're asleep or away. Earn a rebate from Austin Energy for purchasing and installing an internet-connected thermostat and an additional incentive to participate in smart energy savings events.
Stay Cool During the Summer
- Set your thermostat at 78 degrees or higher. Each degree lower increases your energy use by 6% to 8%.
- Turn off your AC or raise the thermostat to 85 degrees when you are away for two hours or more.
- Point fans in your direction. Fans blowing directly on you can make temperatures around you feel up to 5 degrees cooler.
- Close shades and curtains on windows hit by direct sunlight to prevent heat from getting indoors.
- Avoid turning on the oven during the hottest time of the day. Using the microwave produces less heat.
Stay Warm During the Winter
- Set your thermostat at 68 degrees. Each degree higher uses 3% more energy.
- Lower your thermostat when you leave home. You’ll use much less energy to heat the house while you are away.
- Let the sun shine in. Open curtains and shades on eastern and southern windows during the day to let in more heat, then close them in the evening.
- Caulk and weatherstrip windows and doors. This simple and inexpensive improvement prevents drafts.
Talk to Your Leasing Office
Why stop at these energy-saving tips? Discuss energy efficiency with your leasing office. Ask your apartment representative to contact Austin Energy about energy efficiency upgrades, such as LED lighting and solar window screens, to help lower your electricity bill and reduce operating costs for them.
Rebates Are Available
Austin Energy offers cash rebates for recommended energy efficiency improvements made to a multifamily property. Getting started is easy!
Interested property owners or building managers should simply complete and submit a Contact Request Form. An Austin Energy representative will contact you to begin the rebate process.