1 Saving Energy: A Floor-To-Ceiling Guide
2 Saving energy really doesn t require a lot of your energy. There are some easy things you can do to make a difference in your monthly energy usage and still be comfortable. Before you know it, you ll see that saving energy really adds up! This brochure shows ways you can reduce energy usage, save money, and help conserve natural resources. It also has useful information to help you buy energy-efficient appliances, and tips to help you control the energy consumption of the ones you already have. Being Energy Smart has never been easier. Assumptions: due to the volatility of the current energy market, cost estimates in this brochure are based on a range of gas and electric prices. Electric cost estimates reflect a range of $0.15 per kwh to $0.30 per kwh. Natural gas estimates are based on prices of $1.00 to $1.80 per therm San Diego Gas & Electric. All rights reserved. 1
3 Saving Energy: A Floor-to-Ceiling Guide TABLE OF CONTENTS Water Heater 3 Lights 5 Heating System 7 Air Conditioner 9 Refrigerator & Freezer 11 Washer & Dryer 13 Oven & Range 15 Pool & Spa 17 Other Energy Users 20 Vacation Tips 21 2
4 Replace With A High- Efficiency Water Heater If you need a new water heater, consider buying a high-efficiency model. It may cost more to buy, but it uses less energy, so you ll save in the long run. Twist The Tap Turn the water off while you re lathering your hands with soap or scrubbing dishes. Use Cold Water When You Can Use cold water to wash clothes or rinse dishes. Your Water Heater One drop of hot water per second can waste 2500 gallons per year. If just 1% of us repaired a leaky hot water faucet, the savings would add up to 25 million gallons of water and enough natural gas savings to heat 800 homes all winter long. Run Your Dishwasher That s right...run your dishwasher. By running it once a day (or less) you ll use around 17 gallons of hot water each time, compared to the 10 gallons you ll generally use each time you wash the dishes by hand. Wash full loads and use the energy-saver setting for an additional savings. Use your dishwasher s booster heater, it heats the water used in the dishwasher to 140 F, allowing you to set your water heater at an energy-efficient 120 F. 3
5 Keep It Warm If your older water heater feels warm to the touch, a water heater blanket may save up to 9% on your water-heating costs. Check the caution label on your water heater. Newer models come with proper insulation and some even prohibit installing a blanket. Finally, don t cover the inspection plate with the blanket, it could be a fire hazard. Install Low-Flow Devices Low-flow devices on your faucets and showers can cut up to 11% of your water use, which will help reduce your energy and water bills. Set The Thermostat Properly To work most efficiently, your water heater should be set between 120 F and 130 F, 140 F for some dishwasher models. Refer to your owner s manual for proper dishwasher operating temperatures. The bright yellow EnergyGuide label on new appliances can be a very valuable resource in helping you select a new appliance. It shows the annual energy use and the estimated annual operating cost, which can help you make the decision that s right for you. 4
6 Dim The Lights Consider buying solid-state dimmer switches. They can increase bulb life while reducing electric consumption and cost. But don t use them with compact fluorescents because they re not compatible. Motion Sensors Make Sense Replace light switches with motion or occupancy sensors, which make the lights go on or off when someone enters or leaves a room. Motion sensors are perfect for the garage, exterior or security lighting, turning on your lights when motion is detected. Your Lights Lighting can account for about 12% of your monthly bill (9% for allelectric homes). If each household in San Diego replaced four 100-watt incandescent lights with equivalent 27-watt CFLs, 400,000,000 kilowatt-hours would be saved each year. Enough to power over 70,000 homes for a year. Let Timers Take On The Task If you sometimes forget to turn off the lights, think about buying a timer. It turns lights off and on automatically, and helps with your day-to-day home security, too. Best of all, you can set it and forget it. Try Photocells Photocells automatically turn on your lights when it gets dark. Then, when it s bright enough, the photocell turns the lights off. They re great for outdoor or security lighting because you don t have to remember to turn them off in the morning. The sunlight will do it for you. 5
7 Save Watts Wherever You Can Use watt-saving bulbs. They give off the same amount of light as regular bulbs, but use 10% less energy. Remember, the higher the wattage, the more it costs to have your lights on. Consider Low-Voltage Lighting For The Outdoors If you re planning to light your landscaping, install low-voltage lighting wherever possible. A string of six low-voltage lights uses about 108 watts, compared to a single 150-watt flood light. Saving energy in lighting costs can be as easy as replacing incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), which use 75% less energy and last up to ten times longer. Each year the United States throws away billion incandescent bulbs enough to fill two Qualcomm Stadiums. With each CFL, you ll throw away nine less bulbs. 6
8 Choose The Correct Temperature Setting The best temperature for your heater s thermostat is 68 F or below. Before bedtime, turn it down to 55 F or lower (or even off) for more savings and let a programmable thermostat turn the heat up an hour before you plan to wake up. If you have a heat pump, raising and lowering the thermostat could cause the electric heating strips to come on, significantly increasing your heating costs. Finally, thermostats should never be turned up high to heat a home in a hurry. It won t heat your home any faster. Your Heating System In the winter, your heating system is probably your biggest energy user, accounting for 13 16% of your monthly bill. If we all turned down our thermostats just two degrees, we d save enough energy to heat 20,000 San Diego homes for a day. Stay Warm For Less If you re in the market for a new furnace, consider a high-efficiency gas furnace. If you have an electric furnace, consider buying a heat pump. Beware Of Portable Space Heaters If you use more than one, you can use more energy and spend more money than if you had just used your gas furnace to heat your entire home. Space heaters are best when you re trying to heat one room. It s not a good idea to use them throughout your home all at the same time. 7
9 Don t Let Heat Escape Keep doors and windows closed on chilly nights. Weather-strip and caulk your doors and windows, which can save as much as 6% of your heating costs. And when you're not using your fireplace, close the damper. Don t Block Heating Vents Check to see that heating vents are unobstructed so your system doesn t over-work itself getting heat into your home. Keep It Clean A furnace with a dirty filter has to work harder to heat your home. Check filters at least twice during the heating season and either vacuum or replace them. Plus, it s a good idea to have your entire system checked yearly by a qualified heating contractor. Insulate Your Home Properly Up to 20% of your heating can be lost through your ceiling. Proper insulation will keep your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer. The higher the R value, the greater the insulating power. Your attic must also be adequately ventilated to prevent heat build-up in the summer and moisture buildup in the winter. Good insulation also helps prevent this build-up. Installing R-19 ceiling insulation can cut heating costs by up to 20%. In some areas of San Diego County, R-30 insulation is recommended. Be sure to look into insulation carefully before buying. 8
10 Install Insulation Installing insulation is generally one of the best things you can do to reduce your home s cooling costs. If you plan to insulate your home s ceiling, consider a minimum R value of 19, and in some warmer areas an R value as high as 30. Shade Your House Use landscaping, awnings and overhangs to provide shade around the outside of your home. A shaded house is easier to cool than one in direct sunlight. Your Air Conditioner By using fans instead of central air-conditioning, you can save 80 to 90% on cooling costs. In fact, if every residence with air conditioning in San Diego used fans for just three hours on one warm summer day, the energy saved could power over 3,000 homes for a full month. 9 Maintain It Proper maintenance helps your air conditioner run more efficiently. In addition to regular do-it-yourself maintenance, it s a good idea to have your entire system checked yearly by a qualified air-conditioning contractor. Keep The Vents Clear An obstructed vent, inside or outside your home, wastes both energy and money. Move furniture away from vents and window air conditioners. And trim shrubbery that might block outside vents.
11 Do Your Homework Important factors to consider when shopping for a new air conditioner are: size of area to be cooled, climate, your home s construction, sun exposure, wiring, insulation and the number and location of windows. Once you have this information, determine which unit will cool your home for the lowest cost. The SEER rating on the EnergyGuide label can also help you. SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio all new central air conditioners have a minimum SEER of 10. Consider buying a high-efficiency model with a SEER of 11 or higher. A SEER 16 model can save you up to 40% on your cooling costs. Set It And Leave It The best temperature for your air conditioner s thermostat is 78 F or higher. Consider purchasing a programmable thermostat to avoid coming home to a hot house. A setting of 78 F instead of 72 F can save up to 12% of your cooling costs. Keep It Cool Install your air conditioner out of direct sunlight. Also, shade it beneath an awning or patio cover. Watch Those Windows Consider installing reflective films or solar shade screens on windows with the greatest exposure to the summer sun. This can help keep your furniture and carpet from fading too. Keep Cool Air In First, keep your doors and windows closed when you have the air conditioner on. Second, weather-strip and caulk your doors and windows to seal in cooled air. 10
12 Keep It In Good Shape A refrigerator works best when it s kept in good condition. Check the door seals by placing a flashlight inside and close the door. If you can see light with the door closed, it s time to replace the seal. Also, if a seal is cracked, or you feel cold air leaking out, the seal should be replaced. Keep It Cool Keep it in a well-ventilated, dry and cool space. Refrigerators and freezers near ovens, stoves, water heaters, clothes dryers or other crowded or warm places have to work harder. Your Refrigerator & Freezer Chances are your refrigerator/ freezer is one of the largest energy users in your home, gobbling up about 20% of your household s annual energy costs. If everyone in the U.S. used high-efficiency refrigerators, the electricity saved would eliminate the need for about 10 large power plants. 11 Unplug It If you have an extra refrigerator or freezer and don t keep it full, you could save up to 15% by unplugging it. Use The Right Settings Check your thermostat controls. To work most efficiently, your refrigerator should be set between 38 F and 40 F. The freezer temperature should be set at 0 F. Flip That Energy-Saver Switch You can save energy by keeping the Energy-Saver switch turned on. Check your owner s manual for directions on your model s switch.
13 Go For High-Efficiency Newer refrigerators use half as much energy as older models of the same size, so they cost half as much to run. Be sure to compare cubic footage and purchase price, as well as estimated operating costs. The yellow EnergyGuide label can help you in your decision-making process. Defrost Regularly If you have a manual defrost freezer, don t forget to defrost regularly. More than 1/4 inch of frost makes your freezer work harder to keep your food frozen. Keep It Clean Dirty condenser coils could lead to higher operating costs. Coils, found on the back or bottom front of your refrigerator, should be checked and cleaned at least twice a year. Keep It Closed A refrigerator works more efficiently when you open its door as little as possible. So make your decisions before opening the door and get everything you need quickly and at one time. Keep The Heat Out Of Your Refrigerator Before you store leftovers in the refrigerator or freezer, allow them to cool slightly. That way, your refrigerator or freezer won t have to work to cool them off. Keep It Full Refrigerators operate most efficiently when they are full, but not overloaded. While it s true that frozen foods help to keep the air cool, over-packing food in either compartment can prevent cold air from circulating properly. Refer to your owner s manual for the correct capacity. 12
14 Wash Full Loads Over 70% of the cost of washing a load of laundry is in heating the water. So get the most for your money, and make every effort to wash full loads. Buy Gas When You Have The Choice Electric dryers are often less expensive to buy than their gas counterparts, but the energy savings you ll see from a gas dryer will more than offset the additional purchase price. Dry Full Loads Dry full loads to get the most for your money. Your Washer & Dryer If you wash two loads of laundry per week and switch from hot to cold water, you can save over 3,300 gallons of hot water per year. If just 10% of San Diego County households did this, we could reduce our collective natural gas usage by over two million therms each year. Enough to provide all the natural gas needs to over 6,000 homes each year. 13 Don t Overwork Your Clothes Most clothes only need a minute wash cycle to get clean. And overdrying will make them stiff, wrinkled and nearly impossible to iron. They ll wear out faster too. So wash and dry for only as long as necessary. Use Cold Water As Often As Possible Save washing in warm water for whites or hard-to-clean items. Clothes washed in cold water fade less and have fewer wrinkles. You might even save on ironing costs. Above all, always rinse in cold.
15 Get The Lint Out Clean your dryer s lint screen after every use. Besides keeping your clothes looking good, a lint-free dryer works much more efficiently. Check Your Connections Check for hose cracks and leaky faucet connections. Either one can cause you to lose hot water every time you wash. Do It For Free Use the sun to dry your clothes. It s free, and the only energy it requires is your own. If you re in the market for a new clothes washer, consider buying one that is ENERGY STAR rated. ENERGY STAR Washers: use up to 50% less water use 50% less energy save 7,000 gallons of water per year 14
16 Don t Pre-Heat If You Don t Have To If you re baking breads and cakes, pre-heating your oven may be necessary. But for most foods, like casseroles and broiled items, pre-heating simply isn t necessary. Use The Leftovers Your oven and range have leftovers too. A gas oven can retain heat up to 15 minutes; an electric oven up to 30 minutes. Even your electric range top burner can stay hot for an extra three to five minutes. Take advantage of this extra heat to warm desserts or rolls. After all, you ve already paid for it. Your Oven & Range Your food budget doesn t stop at the checkout counter. You can save energy and money by cooking smaller meals in electric pans or toaster ovens instead of your stove or oven. A toaster oven uses a third to half as much energy as a full-sized oven. Keep It Closed Every time you open your oven s door, you lose approximately 25 degrees of heat. Pay Attention To Pots & Pans Pans with flared sides or bottoms that are smaller than your burner let heat escape. If pots and pans are too big, or have warped bottoms, your food won t cook evenly. For most foods, a medium-weight aluminum pan cooks faster and more efficiently than other types. Save your heavier pots and pans for foods which require slow and steady cooking. 15
17 Keep Your Oven & Range Clean An oven or range that s free of grease and baked-on residue will work more efficiently. Thaw First, Then Cook If you thaw your foods completely before cooking, your oven won t have to work so hard to cook your meal. Buy Gas Appliances If you re in the market for a new range or oven, consider buying gas. They cost less to operate than electric appliances and are usually on for a shorter period of time. Use Your Microwave Oven Your microwave requires about the same amount of energy per hour to operate as your electric oven. But, since it cooks food much more quickly, it saves you time, energy and money. In contrast, a gas oven costs about 11% less to operate than a microwave. So, your decision whether to use your microwave or your gas oven should be based on the length of time you need to cook in either one to get the same results. Cover It Up Covers and lids on your pots and pans trap steam to help cook food faster. Cook Smaller Meals In Smaller Appliances For smaller meals that can t be cooked in a microwave, consider using your electric skillet, broiler oven or toaster oven. They use half the energy of their full-size electric counterparts, and won t heat up your kitchen in the warmer months. Boil Until Boiling And Not A Minute Longer Once water or other liquids reach a state of boiling, they won t get any hotter. So if you need to bring something to a boil, turn the burner down or off when it starts to boil. 16
18 Keep It At The Optimal Temperature 102 F or lower is a sufficient temperature for spas. Any higher can be a safety hazard as well as being expensive. For swimming pools, try 78 F 82 F. Buying A Pool Or Spa Consider purchasing a gas-heated pool or spa to save money on future operating costs. Important factors to consider before deciding: the weather (wind, temperatures and the sun), its size (the number of gallons you intend to heat) and its intended use (how warm you want it and how often). Your Pool & Spa Pools and spas cost a significant amount to operate, resulting in higher-than-average energy bills. If everyone with a swimming pool replaced their equipment with a high-efficiency pump and motor, the energy saved would be enough to power over 90,000 homes for a month. Don t Over-Filter Filtering is a major cost of owning a spa or swimming pool. The average spa requires an hour of filtering per day. An average swimming pool, on the other hand, often requires roughly four to six hours of filtering per day in the summer and three to four hours in the winter. Generally, one complete water turnover every 24 hours will provide adequate filtering. If you have a pool maintenance service, ask them about reducing the hours of filtration. And for extra savings, when you replace your filter pump motor, consider purchasing an energy-efficient one. 17
19 Invest In A Pool Or Spa Cover You can save up to 90% of your summer heating costs by using a pool or spa cover. Covers help minimize nighttime heat loss (up to 5 degrees), and prevent chemical loss and water evaporation (hundreds of gallons per month). When shopping for a cover, look for price, durability, warranty, transparency of material, insulation values and safety. A temperature reduction of just 2 degrees (from 80 F to 78 F, for example) can save nearly 20% of your pool s heating costs. Go Solar Solar pool heating systems are especially effective during the summer months and can back up a regular pool heater in the spring and the fall. A solar pool heating system can be a significant investment, so make sure the savings have a payback time of less than or equal to the useful life of the equipment. Turn Off Those Bubbles Using your spa s aerator the device that adds bubbles to the water jets can be costly. Bubbles may be soothing, but they cool the water, making the heater run longer to keep the water warm. Consider A Time Clock A time clock gives you more control over your filter s and heater s hours of operation. Keep An Eye On Decorative Lighting Reduce the lighting in and around the pool area when you re not using it. For safety and security purposes, however, maintain at least one light in the pool in the evening. Also, think about a photocell device it ll turn the lights on and off for you. 18
20 Protect Your Pool Or Spa Wind can cool off your pool or spa and increase evaporation. But, welltrimmed hedges, trees and shrubs, cabanas and fencing can all provide a nice windbreak. Minimize Use Of Automatic Pool Sweeps Generally, three to four hours of daily operation are sufficient. Remember to start the pool sweep one hour or more after the pump has started and stop the sweep one hour or more before shutting off the pump. Refrigerator & Freezer Keep Your Equipment Clean Follow a regular program of preventive maintenance. An annual inspection and deliming of the heat exchanger (as necessary) will help maintain heating efficiency. Backwash or clean the filter as recommended by the manufacturer or your pool maintenance company for maximum efficiency. Help Us Help The Environment Unless it s solar-heated, avoid filtering your pool from noon to 6 p.m., the period of highest electric demand. By filtering outside of this time, you ll be helping the environment by reducing the amount of electricity that power plants must supply during peak times, which means they use less fuel. Check Your Pool Or Spa Thermostat An inaccurate thermostat can cost you hundreds of dollars a year in heating costs. 19
21 Watch Those Gas Fireplace Logs Gas fireplace logs can keep you cozy, but your gas costs can really take a jump if you use them every night. And most of the heat goes up your chimney instead of into the room. Invest In A One-Inch Foam Pad For Your Waterbed Thermal shield insulation pads can eliminate heating costs for your waterbed, saving up to 20% for a king-size waterbed and 30% for an unmade king-size bed. Other Energy Users Unplugging or turning off small appliances when you re not using them can represent a significant savings. For example, if homes and businesses across the county shut off 50,000 computers when not in use, enough energy would be saved to power 7,500 homes for a year. Give Your Home An Energy Check-up Call us at SDGE (7343) for a free, do-it-yourself Energy and Environmental Home Profile. It only takes a few minutes to complete and return. We'll analyze the energy usage in your home and mail you the results. Or visit our Residential section at and complete an On-line Energy Profile and get your results onscreen within a few minutes. 20
22 Your Gas Furnace If you re going on vacation, turn your gas furnace control to the pilot position. If you have electric ceiling heat, turn it off at the circuit breaker. Your Pool/Spa Turn heaters off and reduce filtering time to a minimum. If you have a pool maintenance service, check with them before reducing the hours of filtration. Vacation Tips Water Heater Going away for longer than a month? Consider shutting off your water heater. With a gas heater, turn the thermostat to Off, then turn off the supply valves. With an electric heater, shut it off at the circuit breaker. Always refer to the manufacturer s instructions for shutting off and relighting your gas pilot light. 21 Your Refrigerator If you re going away for a few days, get rid of foods that are likely to spoil. If you ll be gone for more than a month, consider cleaning out your refrigerator, unplugging it and leaving the doors open.* * Caution: Some older models are impossible to open from the inside, a hazard for children and pets. Also, older models may have difficulty restarting. Your Water Bed If you ll be gone for a week or longer, lower your water bed s thermostat to 70 F.
23 Free Energy-Savings Brochures From SDG&E To order, contact us at SDGE (7343) or by at EnergyGuide Labels Heat Pumps Home Cooling Home Heating Home Lighting New Baby Refrigerators and Freezers Saving Energy: A Floor-To-Ceiling Guide Spas And Hot Tubs Swimming Pools Vacation Energy Bills Water Heaters Weather-Stripping And Caulking Your Energy Costs: A Room-By-Room Guide En Español Consejos para ahorrar energía Cómo ahorrar energía: Una guía de piso a techo Pasos sencillos para ahorrar a largo plazo Sus costos de energía: Una guía habitación por habitación Visit us at for energy-saving tips, updates and information on energy-efficient rebates and services.
24 San Diego Gas & Electric P.O. Box San Diego, CA Printed on recycled paper 2001 SDG&E. All copyright and trademark rights reserved. INV M