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Person with apron pouring cooking oil onto pan

Energy-Saving FAQ

Find answers to all the questions you might have on appliances, billing and heating and cooling with our list of frequently asked questions.

What is the purpose of a home energy audit?

The purpose of an energy audit is to identify places in the home where energy is being wasted and prioritize the actions needed to fix them. You’ll start saving money on your energy bills as soon as you identify and fix energy wasters. The end result is intended to reduce the amount of energy the home needs to operate and keep occupants comfortable. Energy audits range from simple walk-throughs you can do yourself to more elaborate services performed by trained professionals. Which is right for you will depend on your situation, abilities and interest level.

Can a programmable thermostat help me use less energy?

Yes, once you select your desired setpoint times and temperatures. A programmable thermostat adjusts your home's temperature to your setpoints, so you're comfortable when at home and saving energy while away or sleeping. A programmable thermostat is a good idea if you're away from home on a regular basis, or want to automatically lower your energy use at night.

If you’re heating and cooling your home with an energy-efficient heat pump, a programmable thermostat will help you get maximum energy efficiency. Ask your heating and cooling dealer to install a programmable thermostat, and make sure it’s the type specially designed for your heat pump.

What is the best way to locate air leaks in a home?

The most rigorous way to locate duct leaks is with a blower door or similar analysis performed by a professional. This analysis measures the magnitude of your duct leakage and identifies its location. Some companies offer ductwork sealing services with a follow-up blower door check to ensure duct leakage has been reduced to acceptable levels. The blower door measures how leaky the building and ductwork are, and can be used to find the location of the major leaks. 

Will a ceiling fan help me save energy and money?

Yes. Ceiling fans move air across the surface of the skin making people feel up to six degrees cooler. Some ceiling fans offer reversible operation; they can blow down in summer when the breeze will create a cooling effect, and up in winter to circulate warm air that has risen to the ceiling. This feature is particularly advantageous in rooms with high ceilings that trap warm air during the heating season. Only use fans in occupied rooms.

Should I seal my attic vents?

Attics should be ventilated year-round, to reduce the build-up of heat and moisture. In winter, attic ventilation expels moisture that might otherwise accumulate and deteriorate insulation or other building materials. Don’t be tempted to seal the vents to conserve energy. Sealing them could cause costly moisture damage. In summer, proper ventilation reduces roof and ceiling temperatures thereby lowering cooling costs and extending roof life. Attic heat will escape naturally if ventilation is provided.
An unventilated attic can reach temperatures as high as 140 °F, while allowing a path for natural ventilation lowers the temperature to a more manageable 90-100 °F. Homes with poorly ventilated attics often have heat trapped in the insulation radiating into the living space late into the evening after the sun has set. 

How much longer do CFLs or LEDs last than traditional incandescent bulbs?

According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), “an ENERGY STAR® qualified CFL lasts up to 10 times longer than a traditional incandescent bulb that puts out the same amount of light. An ENERGY STAR® qualified LED bulb will last as much as 25 times longer than a comparable traditional incandescent bulb.”

What are the advantages of an electric water heater?

  • No flames – Forget about flames because an electric water heater has none. There’s no pilot light to light—and relight. And you don’t have to worry about children and pets coming near it or storing things around it.
  • No fumes – There’s no need to worry about the odor of dangerous gas fumes or carbon monoxide.
  • No flues – Because venting and combustion air circulation are not required with an electric water heater, you’ll save on venting and piping costs. And since there are no flues, you can locate the water heater almost anywhere in your home, freeing up closet and storage space. Even better, you can save energy by installing your water heater near your kitchen and bath, where hot water is used most frequently.
  • Quiet & Clean – There’s no combustion noise, no fumes and no residue.