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Saving Electricity

General
  • Call SUB at (541) 746-0963 for an energy audit. A SUB energy expert will visit your home and recommend energy-saving improvements. It’s free, easy to do, and will put you on the right track to making energy-saving changes to your home.
  • Be sure the insulation in your home is adequate: SUB recommends R-19 in the floor, R-11 in walls, and R-38 in attic spaces.
  • Caulk window frames and door frames to prevent air leakage. Compensate for ill-fitting doors by adding weatherstripping.
  • Patch holes in your drywall. This takes only a few minutes and will keep heat from escaping.
  • Plant deciduous trees on your home’s southwest side. The leaves will block heat in the summer and fall off in the winter, allowing winter sunlight to warm your home.
  • Plant evergreen trees (conifers) on the north and west sides of your home to block chilling winter winds and intense summer heat.
Appliances
  • When purchasing new appliances, choose an ENERGY STAR model. The up-front cost may be more, but these appliances will pay for themselves with the energy they save.
  • Set older water heaters to 120° and insulate them to save electricity. (Note, however, that insulating newer energy-efficient water heaters may void the manufacturer’s warranty.) If you place a new water heater in your garage, set it on an insulated pad.
  • Most water heaters have an anode rod inserted in the top that runs inside the tank and draws rust and corrosion away from the sides of the tank. By changing the anode rod before it rusts through, you prevent the tank itself from rusting and increase the life of your water heater. Check your owner’s manual to see if this option is available on your water heater.
  • Avoid sediment build-up in your hot water tank by draining several buckets out of the bottom tank drain valve. If you do this twice a year, you’ll improve your heater’s efficiency.
  • Convert your water heater to solar power. Even in our cloudy climate, a solar water heating system can produce 40 to 60% of your household’s yearly hot water. If you’re considering a solar water heating system, call (800) 221-8035 to determine your qualification for Oregon Solar Tax Credits.
  • Insulate hot water pipes to reduce the amount of time it takes to get hot water to your faucet.
  • When cooking, use a microwave, electric skillet, or toaster oven as much as possible. All these items use less energy than your oven does.
  • Pre-heat your oven for 10 minutes or less, and turn off your oven several minutes before the food is done; it will cook even as the oven cools. Glass and ceramic containers cook food more efficiently than metal containers. Keep the oven door closed as much as possible, since heat is wasted each time the door is opened.
  • Boil only as much water as you need. Match pan size and burner size for stove-top cooking, and keep pans covered to save energy.
  • Don’t use foil to wrap the drip bowls under your burners. The foil can block the oven vent, preventing air from circulating normally. This shortens the heating element’s life span and decreases the oven’s heating efficiency.
  • Open your refrigerator door as infrequently as possible. Cool air escapes each time, increasing your energy usage.
  • Clean the air intake by your refrigerator’s exterior coils at least once a year.
  • Defrost your freezer often to maintain its efficiency. Test your freezer and refrigerator gaskets by closing the door on a small piece of paper. If the paper slips out easily, it’s time to replace the gasket.
  • Freezers work most efficiently when they are full. Fool your freezer into thinking it’s full when it’s not by placing milk containers partially filled with water in the freezer compartment. Leave room at the top of the containers for the water to expand as it freezes.
  • Use “air-dry” and other power-saving settings on your dishwasher. If your model doesn’t include these features, turn the dishwasher off after the final rinse and prop the door open to let dishes dry. Only wash full loads.
  • Use the cold water setting on your washing machine whenever possible, and only wash full loads.
  • Clean your dryer’s lint trap after each load. Sort clothes into loads of quick- and slow-drying items to keep your dryer from running longer for a few difficult items. Line-dry as many of your clothes as possible.
Lighting
  • Install energy-efficient light fixtures, both indoors and outside. Motion sensors indoors turn off the lights when you leave the room and activate them as soon as you enter. A photosensor on your outdoor lights saves electricity by turning lights on when it gets dark and off when it gets light again.
  • Install LED lights –While they cost more to purchase than traditional incandescent bulbs, they more than pay for themselves. Screw an LED into your table lamp, and you’ll get about 25,000 hours of use before needing to replace it, for a total cost of $17 (bulb cost plus electricity). Screw incandescent into that same lamp, and the cost is $95 (cost of replacement bulbs plus electricity for the same 25,000 hours). And LEDs produce the same quality and color of light as traditional bulbs.
  • Turn lights off when you’re not in the room. For lights that are often turned on and forgotten, use a socket timer that fits in a lamp socket before a light bulb is inserted. When the lamp is switched on manually, the timer switches it back off after a fixed amount of time.
  • Dust off your light bulbs. Built-up dirt and dust can decrease the bulb’s output by 10%.
    Install plug-in timers on radios and lamps to turn them on and off at realistic times when you’re gone, saving energy and protecting against break-ins at the same time.
  • Use light-colored lamp shades. Make sure you’re not defeating the purpose of your lamp with a dark shade that absorbs most of the light that’s produced.
  • Think light when painting or redecorating. Light-colored walls and carpet not only make your rooms look bigger, they reflect more natural light and reduce the need for artificial light.
Space Cooling
  • Maintain fans and air conditioners so they’re running at the highest efficiency.
  • Use appropriately-sized air conditioning units for the area you’re trying to cool. Supplement your cooling system with fans that circulate the cool air. Focus cooling efforts on rooms you use frequently; don’t cool unused rooms or areas.
  • Look for the ENERGY STAR ratings when you’re shopping for a new air conditioner: Above 9 energy efficiency rating (EER) for room air conditioners and above 12 seasonal energy efficiency rating (SEER) for central air conditioning.
  • Seal and insulate air conditioning ducts.
  • Reduce your need for air conditioning by insulating your home and tightening window and door openings.
  • Close window coverings during the day to block out the sun.
Space Heating
  • Keep your thermostat set to 68° and use sweaters and blankets to warm up in the winter. For every degree you raise your thermostat, your heating bill can go up 3%!
  • Turn your thermostat down to 62° at night and 55° when you’re gone. This is especially easy using today’s programmable thermostats.
  • With zonal heat (ceiling, baseboard, wall), you can heat only the rooms you are using. Make sure to close off rooms not in use.
  • Maintain your furnace or heating system with a yearly check-up. Follow your service technician’s recommendations.
  • Clean furnace filters monthly.
  • Keep heat vents and registers unobstructed by curtains or furniture.
  • Circulate heated air in your home. If the warm air stagnates by your fireplace or furnace, use ceiling or portable fans on a low setting to spread the heat around.
  • Seal air leaks in your heating system. Make sure ductwork is air-tight.
  • Seal leaks around power outlets by installing an inexpensive foam gasket, found at any hardware store, between the outlet and the cover.
  • Prevent air leaks around your fireplace by closing dampers and fireplace doors.
  • Keep curtains open on south-facing windows during the day, and close them at night.
  • Be safe! Don’t leave space heaters unattended.