Conservation Conversation: Saving By Conserving at Home

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 Part 1: Six Ways to Save on Heating and Cooling

1. Optimize your thermostat by adjusting the temperature when you leave home so it's not heating or cooling unnecessarily.

2. Change your HVAC filter monthly, which can help your system to run on less energy.

3. Close curtains/blinds on hot days and open them on cold days.

4. Check weatherstripping on all exterior doors and replace when worn or missing.

5. Close fireplace dampers when not in use.

6. Make sure heating/cooling air grates aren't blocked by furniture or curtains.


As you can see, heating and cooling make up more than half of the energy you use at home – therefore, they're the biggest portion of your utility bill.

By taking steps to use less energy for heating and cooling, you can save a significant amount of money every month. In fact, depending on the weather and the age of your home, you could save between 5% and 20% on utilities!

Try these tips and you're already on your way to saving by conserving!


Part 2: Six Ways to Save on Water Heating

How We Use Energy in Our Homes


Though we may take hot water for granted, heating water (for showers, baths, your dishwasher, for example) is the second largest utility expense in your home, accounting for 18% of your energy usage. Do what you can to conserve … every little bit helps!

Saving on Water Heating

1. Shorter showers can save water – cutting back by two minutes can save five gallons – and energy.

2. Cooler showers can save energy on water heating AND BILLS. 

3. Running your dishwasher only when it’s full is most efficient.

4. Consider the cold water setting on your clothes washer, since most of the energy used is for heating the water.

5. Using cold or warm water for washing hands will get them just as clean as using hot water – and saves energy.

6. If shopping for a new clothes washer, look for the Energy Star rating.

How Much Electricity Do Appliances Use?


Water heaters use the most electricity of any household appliance. The average household spends $400 to $600 per year on water heating, and every bit of saving can add up. Taking steps to use less energy for water heating is an easy way to save.
Try these tips and you’re already on your way to saving by conserving!


Part 3: 12 Ways to Save Money Washing & Drying Clothes

Your clothes washer & dryer together use the second-highest amount of electricity among household appliances. Loading and running your clothes washer & dryer appropriately can lead to significant energy savings. For example, using these suggestions with an Energy Star-rated washer & dryer can mean up to 30% savings when doing laundry.

Saving on Clothes Washing & Drying

1. Load items loosely in the washer, without overloading.

2. Wash clothes in cold water.

3. Choose high-efficiency detergent.
4. Use the right amount of detergent. (Use less if you have soft water, a smaller load, or a lightly soiled load, to maximize washer performance.)
5. Select the “Precise Fill” or similar setting if your washer has one.
6. Use your washer's high-speed or extended spin cycle to remove as much moisture as possible and reduce drying time.
7. As with the washer, don’t overload the dryer.
8. Clean the lint filter before each use.
9. Air dry when you can (to use your dryer less).
10. Use wool or rubber dryer balls to help clothes dry faster.
11. Try the cool-down cycle if your dryer has one; your clothes will finish drying with the remaining heat in the dryer.
12. Make sure the dryer vent (behind the machine) isn’t kinked or crushed up against the wall.

(And if you’re shopping for a new clothes washer and/or dryer, look for the Energy Star rating.)


How Much Electricity Do Appliances Use?



Try these tips and you’re already on your way to saving by conserving! Stay tuned next month for saving by using your dishwasher most efficiently.


Part 4: Eight Ways to Save Money on Washing Dishes

The biggest way to save energy, water and MONEY is by using your dishwasher (rather than washing by hand) whenever possible. Running your dishwasher is much more efficient per dish in overall savings. While handwashing may save some energy, it uses much more water.



Tips on Saving When Using Your Dishwasher

Strategically loading and running your dishwasher can save thousands of gallons of water a year – which can amount to hundreds of dollars – and an estimated up to $2 per month in energy costs.

  1. Pre-rinsing isn’t necessary. Instead, scrape food scraps into the trash. (A rubber spatula or similar works great.)
  2. Load your dishwasher properly: glasses and cups up top; plates and cookware on the bottom; soiled side of items facing center of rack.
  3. Run dishwasher only when full to optimize water and energy use.
  4. Use a rinse aid to enhance drying performance.
  5. Avoid heated drying. Opening the door at the end of the cycle to airdry saves energy.
  6. Don’t use the “hot start” setting. The “Normal” setting is designed to conserve both water and energy.
  7. Set dishwasher for the lightest cycle necessary. If dishes are only slightly soiled, use a lower setting.

Try these tips and you’re already on your way to saving by conserving! Stay tuned next month for saving by conserving water in your home.


Part 5: Five (More) Ways to Save Money by Conserving Water

  1. Look out for leaks
    Small leaks at home can add up to gallons of water lost every day. Regularly check under sinks and around toilets for any leaks. If you find one, please use FirstKey Maintenance System (FMS)to submit a service request so we can get it fixed soon.
  2. Don't let your toilet run away
    If you notice that your toilet keeps running after you flush, there’s probably an easy fix.
  • Take the lid off your toilet tank.
  • Make sure the rubber flapper fits completely over the drain and makes a good seal.
  • Check the chain: Is it too short, tangled or stuck? (If so, the flapper won’t close completely.) Is it too long? (The chain may get stuck under the flapper and not allow it to close all the way.)
  • If none of these things are the problem, please submit a service request online through FirstKey Maintenance System (FMS) and we’ll come take care of it.
  1. Turn off the tap
    Make it a habit to not leave the water running when brushing your teeth, shaving, etc.
  2. Keep your cool
    Leave a pitcher or bottle of drinking water in the refrigerator instead of letting the faucet run until the water is cool.
  3. Get ready for dinner
    It takes a little planning ahead, but you can thaw frozen food in the refrigerator overnight rather than under running water.


Part 6: Six Ways to Save Money in Cold Weather

Here are a few more ways to conserve energy, some of them especially helpful in cold winter weather. Remember: Every little bit helps, and it can all add up to more savings for you.

  1. Avoid the draft
    Adding weather-stripping to doors leading outside can help keep the heat inside and is a quick, easy and inexpensive way to save on heating costs. Check out this video from fellow FirstKey Homes resident Naiara. 
  2. A Little Extra Heat
    Some types of space heaters are much more efficient than others. In general, radiant/convection models are more energy-efficient than those with a fan. So, look for ceramic, oil-filled or propane space heaters and stay away from those that rely on a fan to blow hot air.
    Space heaters can be great if you plan to only be in one room for a while; they can keep you warm and allow you to turn down your thermostat (which saves you money). Just remember to turn the space heater off when you leave the room.
  3. Curtain Call
    Another simple way to help keep the heat inside is to close curtains during cold weather, reducing up to 10 percent of heat loss through windows. If it’s sunny, though, opening curtains on sunlit windows can help warm your home via solar energy; just remember to close them at night and on windows that don’t get much sun.
  4. A Phantom That's Real
    “Phantom Plug Load” is the electricity that’s used in your electrical outlets that have appliances/electronics plugged in, even when the equipment isn’t turned on. You can reduce your usage of this type of electricity by unplugging countertop appliances when they’re not in use — think toasters, coffee makers, etc. Another option is to plug appliances in to power strips and turn the power strips off when not using the appliances.
  5. Keep it Clean
    To help keep your heating (and cooling) system working most efficiently, be sure to change the HVAC filter(s) in your home regularly — we recommend monthly. More efficiency means more savings!
  6. Fire Alarm
    If you have a fireplace, when it’s not in use, make sure that the damper is closed. An open damper can really suck the warm air out of a home, so close it completely — you’ll probably feel a draft if it’s open.
    Add these tips to your daily routine and you’re already on your way to saving by conserving! Stay tuned for the next Conservation Conversation for more ways to save energy – and MONEY – at home.

Part 7: Five Ways to Conserve and Save This Spring

Now that spring has sprung, we want to share ways to save as the weather gets warmer. Remember: Every little bit helps, and it can all add up to more savings for you.

  1. Change air filters regularly (we recommend monthly) to help keep your heating & cooling system working efficiently.
  2. Open windows on beautiful spring days for natural ventilation to save on cooling.
  3. Use ceiling fans to keep cool. Make sure your fans turn counterclockwise, to circulate cool air. (And remember to turn them off when you leave the room.)
  4. Fire up the grill for cooking outside – it’ll keep the oven from heating up your home.
  5. Open blinds/curtains to warm your house when it’s cool inside, and close them when it gets warm.

You can also get ready for summer savings:

  • Check weatherstripping on all exterior doors and replace when worn or missing.
  • We’ll have more tips next time about saving in summer.

And remember these all-the-time conservation tips:

  • Change the HVAC filter(s) in your home regularly — we recommend monthly. More efficiency means more savings!
  • Use ceiling fans to help stay cool, but only when you’re in the room.
  • Replace light bulbs with energy-efficient types like LEDs. (Look for the Energy Star label.)
  • Unplug things like countertop appliances when not in use – or use power strips and turn off when not using.
  • Run only full loads of dishes and clothes – and consider the cold water setting for clothes-washing.
  • Avoid handwashing dishes; using the dishwasher is more efficient.
  • Check for leaks under sinks and around toilets regularly … even small leaks can add up to big water bills.

Next up will be ideas to help you conserve energy and water at home in summer. Remember: Conserving means SAVING MONEY!

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