Energy Saving Tips

Energy Saving Tips

Energy Tips For Apartment Dwellers

Helpful advice to apartment dwellers, especially students and others with their first-ever utility account!

  • Don't think of it as the "Light Bill". We all call it the light bill. In summer we ought to call it "The Air Conditioning Bill". Central air conditioning requires about 50 times as much power as a 75-watt light bulb. And your cooling cost won't go down just because a roommate leaves. It costs nearly the same to cool an empty apartment as one with four roommates.
  • Set your air conditioning thermostat carefully.
    • Summer: Recommended indoor temperature is 78 degrees. Set it higher while you're away all day.
    • Winter: Recommended indoor temperature is 68 degrees. Set it lower at night.
    • How to set the "Fan"selection: Always select AUTO, never ON.
  • Find your system's air filter. Make sure there is one, and make sure it's clean. If not, notify your apartment manager. Some filters are cleanable; others require replacement. If the filter is clogged, your cooling and heating costs will rise.
  • Manage sunlight at windows. In summer, close your shades, drapes or blinds to block and reflect the sun's heat outward. You'll be surprised at what a great difference this makes. In winter, let sun in, but close window coverings at night.
  • Use hot water wisely. Report or repair leaks promptly. A hot water leak can increase your energy costs as well as your water and sewer costs.
  • Turn off lights when not in use. And consider compact fluorescent lamps for your most used fixtures. A 20-watt compact fluorescent lamp provides as much light as a 75-watt standard incandescent lamp, but the fluorescent lamp produces about one-fourth the heat at one-fourth the cost, and it lasts ten times longer.
  • Cover your heated waterbed. Use a blanket or comforter to hold heat in.
  • If you're away for Christmas: Turn off your water heater at the breaker panel. Leave your refrigerator on - it may develop an odd smell if turned off. Turn the central heating system way down or off at the thermostat, or off at the electrical breaker panel. If you leave the heat on while you're away for Christmas, a high utility bill may result. Unless you have pets, plants or outdoor water pipes that could freeze, turn the heating system off when away.

If you have energy questions, call a City energy auditor at 891-4YOU (4968), extension routing 4, 2. Or visit on the web at talgov.com.

25 Winter Energy Tips

  1. Set your heating thermostat carefully and accurately. Recommended daytime indoor temperature in winter is 68 degrees. Night-time setting depends on the type of equipment you’re using.
    • If you have an electric heat pump: At night, reduce the setting to 65 degrees. If you drop the overnight temperature much lower than 65, raise the temperature slowly the next morning, only 2-3 degrees at a time, to minimize operation of costly supplemental electric heat strips. Your operating cost can triple when the strips are on. Look for a small light on the thermostat that signals strip operation. (If you have a heat pump programmable thermostat, you can set a lower overnight temperature, for example 62 degrees, and the thermostat will bring the temperature up slowly before dawn without activating the backup heat strips.)
    • If you have a natural gas furnace, propane gas furnace or oil furnace: At night, dial your furnace down to 60 or 55 degrees overnight. A furnace will reheat the house quickly in the morning – it delivers hot air from the registers.
    • If you have electric resistance “strip” heating: Lower the temperature to 60 or 55 degrees overnight. Electric strip heating is the least expensive central heating system to install, and the most expensive to operate. Set your thermostat low to avoid high costs.
  2. Dress for winter. In the first few week of colder weather, you may need extra clothing to feel comfortable at 68 degrees indoors. Pull on a sweater. If you dress like it’s summer and heat to 75 degrees, expect a high utility bill at the end of the month.
  3. Let the sun in! If you have south, east or west windows, open your shades, drapes or blinds to let in the sun’s heat during the day. It makes a difference. Close all your window coverings overnight to hold in heat.
  4. Use hot water wisely. Don’t let a leak go unrepaired. A hot water leak hurts you three ways: It increases the bill for electricity as well as for water and sewer.
  5. If you’re away for Christmas: Turn off your water heater at the breaker panel. Leave your refrigerator on. Turn your central heating to OFF at the thermostat or off at the breaker panel. If you leave your central heating thermostat set to “ON” and set to 55 or 60 degrees, it may run a long time heating an empty residence over the cold holidays. The result can be a higher-than-expected utility bill for the time you were away.
  6. Cover your heated waterbed. Keep it covered with a blanket or comforter to hold in the heat. Uncovered, the cost to heat the bed doubles.
  7. Turn off lights when not in use. Use the lowest wattage necessary. Consider buying compact fluorescent lamps – their cost continues to drop. The use one-fourth the energy of incandescent lamps, while lasting 10 times longer.
  8. Use energy-saving settings on washing machines, dryers, dishwashers, and refrigerators.
  9. Insulate your attic. It’s like throwing a winter coat over your house. With good ceiling insulation you’ll need less heat and have lower bills. R-38 is the recommended level (about 14 inches of blown white fiberglass). But you can go even higher. Recently the U.S. Department of Energy moved Tallahassee into its Region 3 climate zone, which includes some fairly cold locations like Atlanta, Richmond, Kansas City and Seattle. Recommended maximum ceiling insulation level in Region 3 is R-38 if you heat with gas furnace or heat pump, but R-49 if you heat with electric resistance “strip” heat. R-49 would be about 17 inches of blown white fiberglass, or 13 inches of blown cellulose insulation.
  10. Turn down water heater thermostat to 120 degrees F. If you have an electric water heater: Turn the power off at the breaker panel; remove the two side panels on the water heater; part the insulation, and with a standard screwdriver, set both the upper and lower thermostats to 120 degrees. If you have a gas water heater: Simply dial the thermostat adjustment knob to a lower heating level, checking the resulting hot water temperature at the nearest kitchen or bathroom faucet.
  11. Use a clothesline to air-dry clothes using the sun’s free heat.
  12. Wash clothes in cold water. Almost all the cost of clothes washing is in the cost to heat water. Newer enzyme detergents perform best in cold water.
  13. Clean the dryer lint screen frequently. Also check and clean the outdoor flapper vent if necessary. When clogged, drying times lengthen and costs rise.
  14. If you have a heat pump, be sure the thermostat is not accidentally set to Emergency Heat. Costs double in the Emergency Heat mode.
  15. If you have a heat pump, be sure the big outdoor fan spins when you’re heating the house. If that outdoor fan doesn’t spin when you’re heating, you’re probably heating with “strips” only, at double the cost.
  16. Set your thermostat’s Fan selection to AUTO, not ON.
  17. Dress even warmer and lower the thermostat. Same comfort, lower cost.
  18. Close your fireplace damper when not in use!
  19. Arrange items in your refrigerator for quick removal and return. The less time the refrigerator door is open, the less cost.
  20. If you return from work or school to a cool house, don’t choose a higher than usual thermostat setting. Just raise the thermostat setting to 68 degrees or your normal setting. It doesn’t heat any faster at a higher setting.
  21. Make sure your return air grills are not blocked with rugs or furniture.
  22. Cook faster with a lid on the pan.
  23. On electric range tops, turn off the burner a little early. Allow cooking to finish as the burner cools.
  24. Make sure floor air-registers are open. They are easily kicked shut.
  25. Chart your energy consumption from month to month. Writing it down starts you on the path of thinking, changing habits, and using less energy.

Need more information? Call Energy Services at 891-4YOU (4968); routing extension 4, 2. Or visit the Electric and Gas Utility pages at talgov.com