Heating and Cooling

According to the Department of Energy, heating and cooling account for about 56% of the energy use in a typical U.S. home, making it the largest energy expense for most homes. Learn more about heating and cooling efficiently at the Energy Star site.

  • Sealing heating and cooling ducts can help your system operate more efficiently. Learn more about sealing ducts.
  • A programmable thermostat is easy to install and inexpensive to purchase; it can also provide a way for you to manage your usage while away.
  • A ceiling fan can make the temperature in your home feel up to 4 degrees cooler, meaning you get more for your cooling dollar.
  • During the summer, close shades and windows during the day, particularly on the south and west sides of your home. Keep the heat out.
  • Change furnace and air conditioning filters at least once a month. Allergens and dust get trapped in them and cut your efficiency.
  • Tune up your heating and air conditioning system regularly. Keeping it clean and operating effectively will save you money in the long run. Follow this helpful maintenance checklist.
  • Keep the area around your furnace and your outdoor cooling systems clear.
  • Placing furniture or drapery over vents will only decrease the warm and cold air’s ability to circulate in a room, keep those areas clear as well.
  • Contact a licensed professional to assure your hot air isn’t simply escaping through your fireplace chimney.
  • If you aren’t ready to replace windows and doors in your home, weather-stripping and caulking can assist in sealing up your house to keep your home comfortable and reduce your energy usage.

Operate your thermostat efficiently:

  • Set your thermostat as high as comfortably possible in the summer. The smaller the difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures, the lower your overall cooling bill will be.
  • Keep your house warmer than normal when you are away, and lower the thermostat setting to 78°F (26°C) only when you are at home and need cooling. A programmable thermostat can make it easy to set back your temperature.
  • Avoid setting your thermostat at a colder setting than normal when you turn on your air conditioner. It will not cool your home any faster and could result in excessive cooling and unnecessary expense.

Don’t heat your home with appliances or lighting:

  • On hot days, avoid using the oven; cook on the stove, use a microwave oven, or grill outside.
  • Install efficient lighting that runs cooler. Only about 10% to 15% of the electricity that incandescent lights consume results in light—the rest is turned into heat.
  • Take advantage of daylight instead of artificial lighting, but avoid direct sunlight.
    • Learn more about strategies for efficient daylighting.
  • Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes. Consider air drying both dishes and clothing.
  • Take short showers instead of baths.
  • Minimize activities that generate a lot of heat, such as running a computer, burning open flames, running a dishwasher, and using hot devices such as curling irons or hair dryers. Even stereos and televisions will add some heat to your home.