Simple, Low-Cost First Steps for Home Energy Efficiency

John F. Neville
The SEA Group

Here are a few easy things you can do to cut your home energy use. Convince the entire family to follow these steps, and you may find that it doesn’t take any time or cost any money to improve your home’s energy efficiency.


  • Make a habit of turning off the lights whenever you leave a room; keep lights off in unoccupied areas of the home.
  • If it’s sunny outside, open the blinds and “daylight” the room; turn off the electric lights and you will have all the light you need – free.
  • Unless you are watching your favorite show, turn off the television.
  • When you aren’t using the computer, turn it off.


  • Keep the thermostat set to around 66 to 68°F during the daytime in the winter. You’ll notice a big difference in your heating bills.
  • If it seems a little chilly, try putting on a sweater before you turn up the heat.
  • At night, turn the thermostat down to 58°F. When you are bundled up in bed, you won’t need much heat to be comfortable.

Air Conditioning

  • Air conditioners can be very expensive to run, so if you have one, use it in moderation.
  • A room should not seem like an icebox when you come inside on a hot day. Set the thermostat on your air conditioner to around 80°F; when it’s hot and muggy outside, you will feel cool and comfortable inside.
  • Use a fan before turning on the air conditioner. Air passing across your skin will help you keep cool without the high energy bills for air conditioning.
  • Use natural climate controls first. For example, when it is cooler at night, open the windows to let the cool air fill the house. Close windows, drapes, or shades to shut out the hot sun and to prevent the sun from warming the rooms inside.


  • Since the water heater can use a significant amount of energy, this is a good place to find some savings. Set the thermostat on the hot water heater at 120°F or just below the “Normal” setting.
  • Take showers instead of baths and keep them short. Turn off the water when brushing your teeth and washing your hands.
  • If you wash dishes by hand, fill a bowl or basin with soapy water and another with clean rinse water; then turn off the faucet.
  • If you use a dishwasher, avoid prewashing the dishes. Just scrape them clean. Run only full loads, and set the dishwasher to air dry the dishes.
  • If you wash your clothes at home, set your washer to use cold water. With the new phosphate-free detergents, your clothes will come out clean while you save energy.
  • You can save energy, too, if you dry clothes on a clothesline instead of in the dryer.


  • A roaring fire can cheer a cold room in the dark of winter, but fireplaces can also leak out more heat than they provide. Fireplaces draw in heated air from the rest of the house to fuel the fire. So while you may feel warm as you sit by the fire, you can be cooling down the rest of the house and then using more energy to heat it back up.
  • Keep the glass doors on your fireplace closed, especially as the fire begins to die. This will keep some of the heated air inside from being drawn up the flue.
  • Make sure the flue is closed tightly whenever you do not have a fire.
  • Unless you have a source of outside air for combustion, use your fireplace only for special occasions.
Act Locally
Adventures with Energy
Governor’s Office of Energy Resources
270 Washington Street SW, Suite 615
Atlanta, GA 404-656-5176
First Steps

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