Energy saving ideas

It makes sense to buy the most efficient appliances and to conserve energy. Every time you buy a home appliance, tune up your furnace or replace a light bulb, you're making a decision that affects the air we breathe, the water we drink and the ground we walk.

More information on the Home Energy Squad

Electricity is generated in a number of ways. Approximately 60 percent of the electricity in Minnesota comes from fossil fuels that can pollute the air and water. Every kilowatt-hour saved by switching to a more efficient appliance or light bulb reduces pollution. Consider supporting renewable energy sources - contact your utility company for more information. Take energy use into consideration when purchasing household products and follow these tips to make your home an energy-efficient one.


  • Replace worn-out refrigerator door gaskets.
  • Save half the energy a dishwasher uses by not using the dry cycle.
  • Turn off or unplug appliances, especially while you're away.

Home heating

A comfortable and healthy home requires an efficient, sound heating system. It is critical to recognize that the elements in your home are interrelated. Adding insulation, caulking, replacing windows or remodeling your kitchen can affect the efficiency and safe operation of flame-burning appliances. For example, adding a kitchen fan will alter the operation of a water heater and many furnaces.

When replacing your furnace, get the most energy efficient one. The payback will be short and will save you hundreds of dollars on your fuel bill. An old furnace, even when it's running well, may extract only 60 percent of the available heat from the fuel. That means only 60 cents of your heating dollar is going into the house to heat; the rest is going out the chimney. In contrast, many new furnaces are so efficient that they waste less than a nickel of every dollar spent, and some as little as 25 percent of the electrical energy your standard furnace may consume.

You can also save energy and money by replacing your traditional thermostat with a programmable one. Recycle your old thermostat by bringing it to the South Hennepin Recycling and Problem Waste Drop-Off Center, 1400 West 96th Street. Visit for more information.

Other energy-saving tips include:

  • Lower the thermostat by at least 5 degrees while you're at work or asleep, and save on your heating bill.
  • Close a bedroom door and heat register during the day, or close off an unused room entirely, and save about $50 a year.
  • Open shades to let in the sun's warmth - close them at night to keep heat inside.
  • Lock windows to tighten the seal and stop heat leaks.

Water heating

  • Turn down the temperature setting on your water heater to 120 - 125 degrees to save energy and prevent scalding.
  • Fix a dripping hot water faucet that can cost more than $35 a year. Usually it only needs a new washer.

Windows and doors

Windows and doors often account for 35 to 40 percent of a home's heat loss in the winter and an even larger fraction of heat gain in the summer. When shopping for new windows, check the label for the U-factor. A 0.35 or less U factor and a solar heat gain coefficient of 0.55 or less is recommended. Weatherstrip and caulk around old windows and doors.

More resources

  • Fresh Energy - a nonprofit organization leading the transition to a clean, efficient and fair energy system.
  • Minnesota Energy Challenge - by the Center for Energy and Environment (CEE), a nonprofit organization that works to promote public interest through the responsible and efficient use of natural and economic resources
  • Office of Energy, Minnesota Department of Commerce - Home of one of Minnesota's leading sources of unbiased energy information.