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Does Your Home Need an Energy Efficiency Checkup?

Wasting energy is literally wasting money. Taking the time to weatherize your home or apartment and replacing inefficient equipment can help you save money. Regular maintenance can also lengthen the lifetime of your equipment.

Find Your Energy Hogs! The largest user of energy in the average household is that of your heating and air conditioning units. Follow these simple methods to save:

  • Replace your return air filter at least once every month. Households with pets that shed may need to replace more often. A dirty filter inhibits the air that passes through the system for reconditioning and greatly affects the proper operation of your unit.
  • Set the thermostat to 68 degrees for the heating season and 78 degrees for the cooling season, and dress properly.
  • Fans circulate air and provide greater comfort at higher temperature levels during hot weather.
  • Consider having a programmable thermostat installed. Programmable thermostats can be programmed to raise or lower temperature levels in your absence and return the temperature to its desired level before your return. If you do not have a programmable thermostat, adjust the temperatures by hand for savings while you are away.
  • Have your unit serviced twice annually to insure that it is operating properly. A trained professional will check your coolant levels, duct systems, system lubrication, and coils during these system checks. 
  • Use space heaters for only short periods and to "knock off" the chill of a room or small space. NEVER use an electric oven to heat your home.

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How hungry is your air conditioner or heater?
Find the amperage on your outside condensing unit or your heating unit to determine the average hourly cost to operation your unit:

AMPS

WATTS

COST PER HOUR

 

AMPS

WATTS

COST PER HOUR

9.8

2,254

$0.23

 

27.0

6,210

$0.62

11.4

2,622

$0.26

 

28.0

6,440

$0.64

12.2

2,806

$0.28

 

29.1

6,693

$0.67

12.9

2,967

$0.30

 

31.9

7,337

$0.73

13.5

3,105

$0.31

 

32.7

7,521

$0.75

14.2

3,266

$0.33

 

34.3

7,889

$0.79

15.4

3,542

$0.35

 

36.5

8,395

$0.84

16.2

3,726

$0.37

 

38.0

8,740

$0.87

17.2

3,956

$0.40

 

39.2

9,016

$0.90

18.0

4,140

$0.41

 

40.0

9,200

$0.92

19.1

4,393

$0.44

 

41.0

9,430

$0.94

20.0

4,600

$0.46

 

42.0

9,660

$0.97

21.2

4,876

$0.49

 

43.0

9,890

$0.99

22.9

5,267

$0.53

 

44.1

10,143

$1.01

23.7

5,451

$0.55

 

46.0

10,580

$1.06

24.5

5,635

$0.56

 

48.0

11,040

$1.10

25.4

5,842

$0.58

 

49.0

11,270

$1.13

26.1

6,003

$0.60

 

50.0

11,500

$1.15

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WATER HEATING
Your water heater is usually your next biggest user of energy. Most household water heater tanks are 40 or 50-gallon units and can have wattages as high as 5500 watts.

To save water heating dollars:
Set the temperature between 110 and 120 degrees. Most electric water heaters have two heating elements; one at the top and one at the bottom. First unplug the unit or turn off at the breaker. Remove the covers and insulation at thermostats and set the dials at the desired temperature. It is important that both be set at the same temperature level. If the top element cannot be reset, set the bottom element at the desired temperature. Most gas water heaters have dials that register warm, hot, and hotter. Test the settings by taking temperature readings of your water at the sink. Some gas water heaters have "vacation" settings that allow you to turn it off during vacations or extended absences while keeping the pilot light still lighted. Cover the water heater with an insulating blanket. This is most helpful if your water heater is in an unconditioned space such as the attic or garage. Blankets can be purchased at most hardware stores. Be careful not to cover the top of a gas water heater at the flue as this limits the oxygen needed. Consider installing a timer on your electric water heater to limit its time of operation during regular hours. Unplug it or turn off at the breaker during extended absences. The heat recovery rate is usually within one hour. If you take showers, limit them to only four minutes. Use cold water when washing clothes whenever possible. Detergents today are designed to get clothes clean in colder temperatures. Run only full loads in your dishwasher and use "miser" settings when possible. Insulate feeder pipes with pipe insulation. (Note that the average electric water heater is a 40 gallon, 4500 watt tank that will cost on an average of $40.50 per month to operate at 120 degrees without a timer).

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COOKING
There's nothing better than a home cooked meal but cooking can add tremendous amounts of heat to your home. This is a good thing during winter months but can wreak havoc during Texas summers.

Use these tips to save. Always match the pot size to the corresponding burner and use lids to avoid releasing additional humidity. When using the oven, cook multiple dishes and leave the oven door closed until it is time to remove. Use your microwave whenever possible to shorten cooking time, save operating costs and limit heat gain.

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Food Preparation Costs
Appliance Average Wattage Avg. Mo. Cost Cost Per Hour Avg. Mo. Hours
         
Blender 330 0.05 $0.02310 $0.01
Broiler 1435 0.05 $0.10045 $0.05
Can Opener 220 0.04 $0.01540 $0.01
Carving Knife 100 0.05 $0.00700 $0.01
Coffee Maker 1400 15 $0.09800 $1.47
Coffee Percolator 660 15 $0.04620 $0.69
Convection Oven 1500 14 $0.10500 $1.47
Crock Pot 150 25 $0.01050 $0.26
Deep Fryer 1450 4 $0.10150 $0.41
Dehydrator 2200 48 $0.15400 $7.39
Electric Skillet 1200 3 $0.08400 $0.25
Food Processor 400 1 $0.02800 $0.03
Grill 1600 2 $0.11200 $0.22
Ice Cream Freezer 140 0.5 $0.00980 $0.01
Microwave Oven 1450 5 $0.10150 $0.51
Mixer 125 0.4 $0.00875 $0.01
Popcorn Popper 1440 4 $0.10080 $0.40
Range/Oven 12200 27 $0.85400 $23.06
Roaster 1425 2 $0.09975 $0.20
Toaster 1100 1 $0.08800 $0.08
Waffle Iron 1400 1 $0.09800 $0.10
Wok 1000 1 $0.07000 $0.07
Dishwasher* 1200 20 $0.84000 $1.68
Trash Compactor 750 0.5 $0.05250 $0.03
Waste Disposal 800 0.4 $0.05600 $0.02

*Does not include water or heat drying

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LIGHTING THE WAY TO LIGHTEN THE LOAD!
Lighting your home can account for 25 percent of your monthly utility bill. Energy conscious use helps but instead of just switching off, switching to a more efficient light source can be most beneficial.

Compact fluorescent lights (CFL's) have been available for several years to replace standard incandescent lights. CFL's are 8 times more efficient than incandescents with up to 10 times the life. They come in small wattages that produce as much light as standard 40 to 150 watt incandescent bulbs. They may be used in lamps, recessed cans, and outdoor lighting and are available in floodlights, three-way lights and dimmable lighting. CFL's produce less heat than standard incandescents, thus reducing unwanted summer heat gain. CFL's (not broken) are also easy to dispose of: drop them off at College Station Public Works, or take them to the nearest Home Depot.

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PUT A PENCIL TO IT!

  1. Multiply the number of lights replaced by the wattage of lights replaced, e.g. 3 x 60 watts + 2 x 75 watts + 1 x 100 watts = 430 watts
  2. Multiply the number of compact fluorescents purchased by their wattages, e.g. 3 x 15 watts + 2 x 20 watts + 1 x 25 watts = 110 watts
  3. Subtract the Total of B from the Total of A, e.g. 430 watts - 110 watts = 320 watts
  4. Multiply the difference of B from A times 10. (10,000 hours/1000 = kWh saved) e.g. 320 x 10 = 3200 kWh saved
  5. Multiply the product of D by the rate per kWh ($0.10), e.g. 3200 kWh x $0.10 = $320.00
  6. Subtract the purchase price of compacts from the calculated savings, e.g. $320.00 - $36.00 = $284.00
  7. Multiply the number of incandescents replaced by $7.00 (cost for incandescents for 10,000 hours at $0.50 each) e.g. 6 lights x $7.00 = $42.00
  8. Add F (savings) to cost of replacement incandescents avoided to get your Estimated Savings over the Lifetime e.g. $284.00 (kWh Savings) + $42.00 (replacement savings) = $326.00

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LIGHTING COSTS When possible open shades and blinds to make use of natural light to brighten your home. Patio, porch and awning covered windows and doors block the direct sunlight into your home.

When that's not possible, make note of the lighting that you use the most and replace with more efficient lights that provide the same light output. Turn off lights when not in use to help save.

Wattage Cost/10 hours Cost/24 hours
7 $0.01 $0.02
8 $0.01 $0.02
12 $0.01 $0.03
15 $0.02 $0.04
20 $0.02 $0.05
22 $0.02 $0.05
25 $0.03 $0.06
27 $0.03 $0.06
30 $0.03 $0.07
35 $0.04 $0.08
40 $0.04 $0.10
50 $0.05 $0.12
60 $0.06 $0.14
75 $0.08 $0.18
90 $0.09 $0.22
100 $0.10 $0.24
150 $0.15 $0.36
250 $0.25 $0.60
300 $0.30 $0.72

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CAULKING

One tube of caulk can caulk about two windows and pay for itself in about 6 months. Air leakage is the largest waster of energy in your home. Proper caulking and weather-stripping can reduce air leakage by 20 to 40 percent. Caulk is for non-moving joints. Use fireproof materials and carefully follow instructions when working with hot flues or pipes. Caulk around plumbing and wiring holes from the attic to reduce heat gain and loss. Caulk around socket and switch outlets to reduce infiltration. Be sure to turn off at the breakers first. Caulk around vent-a-hoods, recessed light fixtures, washer, dryer and bath vents. Caulk windows where the frame meets the wall opening from both outside and within. Weather-strip windows and doors and replace thresholds at the bottom of outside doors where needed. Check you central unit's duct system for leaks and repair with mastic or duct tape.

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INSULATION
Insulation insulates us from the harsh outdoor temperatures whether they are high or low. Checking the R-value (resistance value) of your insulation and installing additional insulation where needed can save you money in both winter and summer months.

Insulation R-values are not measured by the inch but rather by the weight and density of the insulating material. Call a professional to determine your existing R-value. Add where necessary. College Station Utilities recommends R-values as follows:
Attics-R-30; Floors-R-19; Walls-R-13.

Select insulation on the basis of R-value. Batts, blankets or blown-in fiberglass, cellulose or rock wool are all acceptable insulations. If you have adequate insulation levels, check for gaps, shifting, settling or falling away areas and repair. Be sure to keep the attic eave or soffit vents, and any gable vents free of insulation to allow for proper ventilation. Batt insulations should be labeled with their R-values.
Blown-in insulations should indicate the number of bags required to achieve an R-value for a specified square footage.

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HEAT GAIN
Air conditioning accounts for about one half of your summer utility bills. By eliminating heat gain from windows and doors, you can lessen the load on your air conditioning system.

Solar screens can block as much as 80 percent of summer heat gain while only eliminating about 20 percent of the light from the windows. Solar screens are attractive and moderately inexpensive. Solar radiation in the morning hours is just as harmful as in the afternoon hours. This means that east windows can contribute as much heat gain to your home as west windows. Use landscaping when possible to shade the intense areas of glass in your home or install awnings or covers. An 18-inch overhang over a southern window will block summer sun but will allow your home to get valuable sun in winter months. Wearing lighter clothing and using ceiling and box fans to distribute air also help add to your comfort in summer months. Ceiling and box fans use about as much as a standard 60-watt light bulb so they should be turned off when you are away or are not using the room. Every degree that you turn up your thermostat in summer months can save up to 3% of the cooling costs.

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LANDSCAPING
Landscape your home for beauty and savings by correctly placing trees and shrubs! Proper landscaping can keep your home cooler in hot summers and block the wind in winter months. Planting trees that lose their leaves in winter on the southern and western sides of the house provide shade in summer while shedding their leaves in winter to provide needed heat from the sunlight. Planting evergreen trees and shrubs on the northern and western sides of the house provide a natural winter block during winter months. Vines, trained on a trellis, work well as sunblocks in areas with limited ground space. Shading patios and driveways helps to reduce radiant heat and heat conduction through walls and windows and can actually reduce wall temperatures up to 29 degrees.
  Summer Winter
Air Conditioner/Electric Heat 48% 59%
Electric Water Heater 15% 14%
Small Appliances & Lighting 15% 12%
Refrigerator 10% 6%
Electric Dryer 4% 3%
Electric Range 3% 2%
Dishwasher 2% 1%
Television 2% 2%
Washing Machine 1% 1%

TIP: Always remember to call 1-800-344-8377 (DIG TESS) to locate underground lines before undertaking any landscaping task.

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INFILTRATION SOURCES
Soleplate 25%
Wall Outlets 20%
Windows 13%
Duct System 13%
Vent-A-Hood 6%
Recessed Lights 5%
Doors 4%
Dryer Vent 3%
Sliding Glass Doors 2%
Bath Vents 1%
Fireplace 6%

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OTHER ENERGY USERS
Appliance Average Average Cost Per Average
  Wattage Mo. Hours Hour Mo. Cost
Computer 250 30 $      0.0175 $        0.53
Radio 15 7 $      0.00105 $        0.01
VCR 34 51 $      0.00238 $        0.12
Stereo 100 13 $      0.007 $        0.09
Television 330 284 $      0.0213 $        6.56
Video Games 9 50 $      0.00063 $        0.03
Fans        
Attic Fan 100 120 $      0.028 $        3.36
Ceiling Fan 30 360 $      0.0021 $        0.76
Box Fan 100 120 $      0.007 $        0.84
Refrigerators Auto Defrosts    
10-12 cu. Ft. 375     $        4.92
14-16 cu. Ft. 450     $        9.26
14-18 cu. Ft. 500     $       10.29
18-20 cu. Ft. 550     $       11.79
20-24 cu. Ft. 600     $       13.28
Freezers *     Uprights Chests
8 cu. Ft. 245   $        3.17 $        2.66
12 cu. Ft. 295   $        4.54 $        2.96
16 cu. Ft. 330   $        5.08 $        3.70
18 cu. Ft. 350   $        5.39 $        4.53
20 cu. Ft. 475   $        7.48 $        6.65
Personal Care        
Curling Iron 40 8 $      0.0028 $        0.02
Hair Dryer 1200 9 $      0.084 $        0.76
Hair Rollers 400 2 $      0.028 $        0.06
Makeup Mirror 40 4 $      0.0028 $        0.01
Elec. Razor 15 1 $      0.00105 $        0.34
Clothes Dryer 5500 27 $      0.0385 $      10.40
Washer 840 31 $      0.0588 $        1.82
Iron 1100 10 $      0.11 $        1.10
Water Heater 4500 90 $      0.45 $      40.50

Let us help address your energy conservation needs! On-site energy audits are available to College Station Utilities customers at no charge. Call 979-764-6343 today!

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Last updated: 1/7/2014 4:36:30 PM