Conserving energy at home is easy if you know where to look.
According to Tucson Electric Power energy efficiency experts, there are many ways to reduce energy waste, lower your bill and make a positive environmental impact. These actions range from turning off lights when they’re not needed to unplugging certain appliances and electronics when they’re off to avoid using “phantom” energy.
“The first thing I would do is use efficient lighting,” said Daniel Hogan, Manager of Residential Energy Efficiency Programs & Services. TEP’s ENERGY STAR Lighting Program offers instant discounts on LED and CFL bulbs found at local retailers.
Another way to look for wasted energy is to consider what’s plugged in. Kitchen appliances such as coffee makers and microwaves, entertainment devices such as DVD players and video gaming systems, and common household items such as cell phone chargers, fans and radios all can drain energy when they’re not in use.
The amount of this so-called “phantom” energy varies from household to household depending on what is plugged in. The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory estimates that as much as 10 percent of residential energy use is lost to devices drawing power when they’re not being used.
Another great tip: Always keep your air filter clean. “People don’t realize how critically important this is because it keeps your air conditioning coils clean from dust and debris, allowing adequate air flow across those clean coils,” said Hogan. Clean coils also help refrigerators operate efficiently, he said.
Maintaining a second, usually older and inefficient refrigerator in the garage or spare room can cost a lot in terms of energy. Many people hang on to an older fridge after upgrading without considering this cost.
For those with outdoor lights, adding a timer can reduce energy use. Landscapers, contractors and electricians can help you add timers to new or existing porch and landscape lighting.
“Some people run outdoor lighting from dusk to dawn, rather than turning them off after a few hours,” Hogan said. “Do you really need lights on at 3 a.m.? That is a lot of energy if you have multiple outdoor lights.”
Another tip is to keep the doors inside your house open.
“The air flow in your house will work better when the doors are open,” Hogan said. “All homes have supplies in each room but often only have returns in a central hallway. When air goes into a room through the supply, if the door is shut, it can’t return. You essentially pressurize the room with the door shut, and it starves air to the return coils.”
Through TEP’s many energy efficiency programs, customers can receive rebates for purchasing new energy efficient air conditioners and heat pumps and installing variable speed pool pumps.