Simple steps like cleaning air filters regularly and having your heating
and cooling equipment tuned annually by a licensed contractor can save
energy and increase comfort at home, and at the same time reduce
greenhouse gas emissions. When it's time to replace your old equipment,
high efficiency model, and make sure it is
properly sized and installed.
Programmable thermostats automatically
adjust your home's temperature settings, allowing you to
save energy while you're away or sleeping.
are more convenient and accurate
than manual thermostats and improve your home’s
contain no mercury
save energy and save money on
utility bills — when used properly, about $150/year
are better for the environment,
since using less energy helps reduce greenhouse gas
emissions associated with energy production
Programmable thermostats earn
the ENERGY STAR by
meeting strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the
government. These units save energy by offering 4
convenient, pre-programmed temperature settings —
settings that try to anticipate when it's convenient for
you to scale back on heating or cooling.
If you are like many homeowners and
work outside the home during the day and have a
different schedule on the weekend, a programmable
thermostat can offer many benefits, and the return on
your investment is usually within 1 year.
On the other hand, if you are home
throughout the day, seven days a week, then a
programmable thermostat will offer more limited
Insulation keeps your home warm in the
winter and cool in the summer. There are several common
types of insulation — fiberglass (in both batt and blown
forms), cellulose, rigid foam board, and spray foam.
Reflective insulation (or radiant barrier) is
another insulating product which can help save energy in
hot, sunny climates.
When correctly installed with air
sealing, each type of insulation can deliver comfort and
lower energy bills during the hottest and coldest times
of the year.
Insulation performance is measured by
R-value — its ability to resist heat flow. Higher
R-values mean more insulating power. Different R-values
are recommended for walls, attics, basements and
crawlspaces, depending on your area of the country.
Insulation works best when air is not moving through or
around it. So it is very important to seal air leaks
before installing insulation to ensure that you get the
best performance from the insulation.
For more comprehensive
information, check the Department of Energy’s online
To get the biggest savings, the
easiest place to add insulation is usually in the attic.
A quick way to see if you need more insulation is to
look across your uncovered attic floor. If your
insulation is level with or below the attic floor
joists, you probably need to add more insulation. The
recommended insulation level for most attics is R-38 (or
about 12–15 inches, depending on the insulation type).
In the coldest climates, insulating up to R-49 is
insulate your attic hatch or door to
prevent warm air from escaping out
the top of your house.
Seal holes in the
attic that lead down into the house,
such as open wall tops and duct,
plumbing, or electrical runs. Any
hole that leads from a basement or
crawlspace to an attic is a big
energy waster. Cover and seal them
with spray foam and rigid foam board
Seal holes with
caulk or spray foam where pipes,
wires, and vents enter or exit your
home through walls. Be sure to check
behind and under sinks!
frames and door frames inside the
home with clear or color matched
caulk to reduce drafts. Use
long-lasting exterior caulk outside
the home where a window or door
frame meets brick, wood, or siding.
doors and windows that do not seal
tightly. Use foam gaskets around
electrical outlets (under the
plates) to reduce drafts.
There are many
more steps either you or a
contractor could take to improve the
warmth and comfort of your home
through air sealing and insulating.
For more ideas on how to seal and
insulate right, consult EPA's
Home Sealing Do-it-yourself guide
Many air leaks and drafts are easy to
find because they are easy to feel — like those around
windows and doors. But holes hidden in attics,
basements, and crawlspaces are usually bigger problems.
Sealing these leaks with caulk, spray foam, or weather
stripping will have a great impact on improving your
comfort and reducing utility bills.
Homeowners are often concerned about
sealing their house too tightly; however, this is very
unlikely in most older homes. A certain amount of fresh
air is needed for good indoor air quality and there are
specifications that set the minimum amount of fresh air
needed for a house. If you are concerned about how tight
your home is, hire a contractor, such as a
Home Energy Rater, who can use
diagnostic tools to measure your home's actual
leakage. If your home is too tight, a fresh air
ventilation system may be recommended.
After any home sealing project, have a
heating and cooling technician check to make sure that
your combustion appliances (gas- or oil-fired furnace,
water heater, and dryer) are venting properly. For
additional information on Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)
issues related to homes, such as combustion safety,
EPA’s Indoor Air Quality Web site.
Want more from your windows?
Ask for ENERGY STAR.
ENERGY STAR-qualified windows, doors, and skylights save
you energy and money, increase the comfort of your home,
and protect your valuable possessions from sun damage.
They are also better for the environment because
lowering your energy use means less air pollution from
Save money and energy.
Installing ENERGY STAR-qualified windows lowers
energy bills and saves you money over single-paned
and even new double-paned, clear-glass windows.
More than just dollar savings.
ENERGY STAR-qualified windows protect from the
winter heat and summer sun, while also reducing
condensation and interior fading.
Control direct sun through windows
depending on the season and local climate. During
cooling season, block direct heat gain from the sun
shining through glass on the east and especially west
sides of the facility. Depending on your facility,
options such as “solar screens,” “solar films,” awnings,
and vegetation can help. Over time, trees can
attractively shade the facility, and help clean the air.
Interior curtains or drapes can help, but it’s best to
prevent the summer heat from getting past the glass and
inside. During heating season, with the sun low in the
South, unobstructed southern windows can contribute
solar heat gain during the day.
Use fans. Comfort is a function of
temperature, humidity, and air movement. Moving air can
make a somewhat higher temperature and/or humidity feel
comfortable. Fans can help delay or reduce the need for
air conditioning, and a temperature setting of only 3 to
5 degrees higher can feel as comfortable with fans. Each
degree of higher temperature can save about 3% on
cooling costs. When the temperature outside is more
comfortable than inside, a “box fan” in the window, or
large “whole facility” fan in the attic can push air out
of the facility and pull in comfortable outside air.
Fans can improve comfort and save energy year round.
In the summer, use the ceiling fan in
the counter-clockwise direction. While standing directly
under the ceiling fan you should feel a cool breeze. The
airflow produced creates a wind-chill effect, making you
“feel” cooler. In the winter, reverse the motor and
operate the ceiling fan at low speed in the clockwise
direction. This produces a gentle updraft, which forces
warm air near the ceiling down into the occupied space.
Remember to adjust your thermostat when using your
ceiling fan — additional energy and dollar savings could
be realized with this simple step!
Heavy or insulating shades
and drapes drawn over the windows will keep heat inside
Geothermal Heat Pumps
Geothermal heat pumps are similar to
ordinary heat pumps, but use the ground instead of
outside air to provide heating, air conditioning and, in
most cases, hot water. Because they use the earth's
natural heat, they are among the most efficient and
comfortable heating and cooling technologies currently
Earning the ENERGY STAR
means products meet strict energy efficiency guidelines
set by the US Environmental Protection Agency and the
Department of Energy.
ENERGY STAR qualified geothermal
heat pumps use about 30% less energy than a standard
They are quieter than
Remember, saving energy
prevents pollution. By
choosing ENERGY STAR and taking steps to optimize the
performance of your heating and cooling equipment, you
are helping to prevent global warming and promoting
cleaner air while enhancing the comfort of your home.
You may also be
interested to know:
Though these products can be more
expensive to purchase up front, the cost difference
will be paid back over time through lower energy