Your top energy efficiency questions and ways to save

Your top energy efficiency questions and ways to save

10 simple ways to conserve energy around the home

How can you find ways to save energy around the house? All you have to do is ask.

Here are 10 frequently asked questions from Duke Energy customers about how they can save. Company energy efficiency experts offer simple ways to conserve and save on your energy bill.

When is the best time to wash clothes?

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Try to do laundry earlier in the day during the summer and in the evenings during winter. In the summer your home tends to get warmer in the afternoon and your washer and dryer may make your cooling system work harder. In the winter, your home tends to get colder in the evening and the washer and dryer may help your heating system work a little less hard. Use cold water in the wash cycle and wait until you have enough clothing to do a full load to increase energy efficiency and water use.

What should the temperature on my refrigerator and freezer be?

Your refrigerator should be 37 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. The freezer should be 4 to 5 degrees if it is part of a fridge/freezer unit. For a separate freezer, use a setting of 0.

What’s the best thermostat setting?

You can save as much as 10% a year on heating and cooling by turning your thermostat 7 to 10 degrees higher than you normally would in warm months and 7 to 10 degrees lower in cold months for eight hours a day. We recommend setting your heating thermostat in winter to the lowest comfortable setting while you are home. The lower your thermostat setting in cold weather, the lower your heating bills will be. In summer, set your thermostat to the highest comfortable setting. The higher the setting, the lower your cooling energy bills will be.

Does using a fan while I’m in the room help save energy or does it drive up the cost?

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Using fans is a great way to lower your cooling costs. Fans will only save money on your cooling if you are able to increase your thermostat temperature when the fans are on. For example, if you normally set your thermostat to 76 degrees, when using fans you can set it to 78 degrees and save energy. This is because fans use a lot less energy than air conditioning, so using fans more and air conditioning less will save energy. If you don't change your thermostat setting, using fans will cost slightly more than not using them because they use a small amount of energy.

Will using a dehumidifier help lower my cooling cost or raise it?

Running a dehumidifier will increase your energy use. The dehumidifier uses energy but doesn't decrease the amount of work the AC has to do to cool your home. The AC cools the air to the set temperature and dehumidifies at the same time. With most home setups, the AC will stop running when the temperature setpoint is reached, regardless of the humidity. In addition, dehumidifiers give off heat when they run, creating more work to cool your home. If you want a cool home, use your AC without the dehumidifier. It is true you will feel cooler when the air is dryer. So when the weather is cool but damp, you could consider running the dehumidifier and not your AC though you may not save much, if anything. This is because a dehumidifier is less efficient (uses more energy to remove the same amount of water) than your central AC.

Is it more expensive to leave lights on or to turn them on and off throughout the day?

You will always use less electricity by turning off your lights when you are not using them. With some types of bulbs, turning them on and off a lot will shorten the life. In some cases, the cost of paying to keep the lights on is less than the cost of buying new bulbs more often. Most homes don't have this issue. Energy.gov recommends you always turn off incandescent, halogen or LED bulbs when they aren't needed. It won't shorten their life. For CFLs and fluorescent tube lights, turning them on and off a lot may shorten their useful life. The rule of thumb is to turn them off if you are leaving the room for more than five minutes.

If you really want to save on lighting, change all your incandescent and halogen bulbs to LEDs. You will pay the same amount in energy costs to keep an LED bulb on 24 hours a day as you would keep an incandescent bulb on for just four hours.

How can I save money in the kitchen?

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Here are some ways to save energy in the kitchen.

Keep your refrigerator and freezer full to keep a steady temperature inside and reduce the number of times the system has to turn on.

Install a low-flow aerator on your kitchen faucet to reduce water use.

Use the appropriately sized burner, especially with an electric range, to heat your cookware and avoid adding heat to your kitchen. Smaller pots and pans should be heated with smaller burners.

Grills are a great alternative cooking method in the summer. Your cooling system works harder in the summer when using the oven for long periods or boiling water.

To make sure you are using your dishwasher efficiently, run only full loads and use the energy-saving settings.

When it is time to replacement any major appliance keep an eye out for the ENERGY STAR® label, which indicates they meet higher quality and energy efficiency standards.

What is the most expensive home appliance to run?

The cost to run an appliance depends on two main things:The amount of energy the appliance uses and how much it is used.

In general, appliances that use the most energy (other than heating and cooling systems) are electric water heaters, dryers, dehumidifiers and space heaters.

How much energy can be saved by unplugging electronics and appliances when not in use?

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Electronics and appliances that are plugged in but not in use consume a small amount of power, called standby power. Standby power can account for as much as 10% of your annual electricity use. The amount of standby power will depend on how many devices you have, the type, and how often they are plugged in.

For big energy savings, look into heating and cooling, water heating, and upgrading to more efficient appliances. Be aware of what is using energy in your home so you can understand and control your use. Most Duke Energy customers can monitor their energy use through their smart meter and company app.

What can I do to cut down on water heating costs?

Check the temperature of your water heater. It should be set to 120 degrees.

Install aerators and low-flow faucets on fixtures and showerheads to reduce the amount of water flowing from your hot water heater. Keep showers to under five minutes is another way to reduce hot water use. Set a timer and make it a challenge to see if you can beat the clock.

Wash laundry in cold water. It will get clothes as clean as warm or hot water. Always wash a full load to reduce the number of loads, saving water.

Hand washing dishes uses up to 30 gallons in 10 minutes while dishwashers only use 3 gallons per cycle on average. Using your dishwasher even when it is not full will use less water to get your dishes clean.

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