Energy savings tips

We have suggestions to help you stay comfortable while conserving energy, no matter what the season.

Ready to start saving? Go to SMUD Energy Store to purchase energy-efficient products and receive an instant rebate at checkout.

The easiest way to keep your home cool is to prevent it from heating up in the first place. Good insulation, caulking and weather stripping help regulate the temperature inside. Shade trees, overhangs and awnings help, too.

Here are some no-cost and low-cost conservation tips:

Air conditioning / cooling

  • Set the thermostat to 78 degrees or higher. You'll save around 5 to 10 percent on cooling costs for every two degrees you raise the temperature.
  • Change the air filter regularly. An air conditioning unit with dirty filters can use 5 to 10 percent more energy.
  • Use fans instead of central air conditioning whenever possible. A fan costs about 90% less to operate.
  • Adjust ceiling fans to turn counter-clockwise in the summer.

Appliances

  • Use your oven, stove, dishwasher, dryer, washing machine and other heat-producing appliances early in the morning or later in the evening, when temperatures are cooler.
  • Use a clothesline and give your dryer a break.
  • Get rid of your older-model refrigerator or freezer, especially if you have an extra one in your garage. We’ll pick it up and pay you a cool $50.

Cooking

  • Prepare cold meals or put your grill to work. Check out our Peak Hour Cooking Tips for quick and easy cooking shortcuts.
  • Microwaves use less than half the power of a conventional oven. Consider using your microwave to cook or reheat your dinner during peak hours.

More ways to save

  • Keep windows, blinds and draperies closed to keep the heat out.
  • Turn off unnecessary lights.
  • Check out our free Shade Tree program to lower your energy costs and improve air quality.

For every two degrees that you lower your thermostat during the winter, you save about 10% on the operating cost of your heater.

Here are some cool-weather conservation tips:

Heating

  • Set the thermostat to 68 degrees, and lower it to 55 degrees at night or when no one's home.
  • Program your thermostat so you don't have to remember to change the setting.
  • If you have a heat pump, set the lower temperature to 63 degrees. Heat pumps are designed to maintain temperatures within a narrower range.
  • Have a licensed HVAC contractor check your ducts if you notice little or no air coming out of vents, or if some rooms are colder than others. (Check out our heating and cooling rebates.)
  • Get your heating system professionally checked once a year, and change the air filters regularly.
  • Keep vents open and air flowing. Closing doors and room vents puts extra strain on the central heating system.

Appliances

  • Use portable heaters only in rooms that don't get enough heat, or if your home doesn’t have a central heating system. Remember to turn them off when the room’s not in use.
  • Never use propane heaters, hibachis, barbecues—or any heater with an open flame—indoors. They produce carbon monoxide, a clear, odorless gas that can be fatal to humans and animals.

More ways to save

  • Open drapes and shades on sunny days to let in the sun's heat; close them at night and on cloudy days.
  • Cover your fireplace and close the damper when you're not using it.
  • Dress in layers and add a blanket to your bed. 

No matter what the season, you'll save money by saving energy.

Water heaters

  • Wrap your water heater with a water heater blanket to keep heated water warm.
  • Set your water heater temperature to 120 degrees.
  • Install low-flow showerheads and fix any leaky faucets.

Weatherization

  • If your house is more than 15 years old, check the insulation in the attic and floor.
  • Check the weather stripping and caulking around doors and windows. Up to 20% of the heat or cool air inside a typical house is lost through the windows.
  • Curtains or blinds can act as additional insulation for windows, or can be opened to let in the sun’s heat.

Lighting

  • Consider replacing any incandescent bulbs or compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) in your home with energy-efficient LEDs.
  • Install light-sensitive controls or timers to automatically turn off lights when they're not needed.
  • Choose solar-powered lights for your yard.
  • Use desk lamps to focus the light where you actually need it, rather than wasting energy lighting the entire room.

Appliances

  • When you're not using lights and appliances, turn them off or unplug them if possible.
  • Use smart strips so you can easily turn off multiple appliances at once.
  • Use dishwashers, washing machines and clothes dryers only when they’re full.
  • Avoid using appliances during the peak hours of 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., when demand for electricity is highest.
  • Clean the coils at the back or bottom of your refrigerator to keep it running efficiently.
  • Keep in mind that every time you open the refrigerator door, the compressor has to run for 8 to 10 minutes to cool it down again.
  • Replace appliances with an Energy Star® model—they’re up to 40% more efficient than older models.
  • In summer, set your air conditioner thermostat at 85 degrees or higher. In colder weather, set your heater to 60 degrees or lower.
  • Put lights on a timer to save energy and give the house a "lived in" look.
  • Draw the drapes on windows facing south and west.
  • Shift your water heater to the lowest setting.
  • Check to make sure no faucets inside or out are dripping.

Around the house

Money-saving tips for your home.

 

A tremendous amount of electricity is used to run the pumps that bring water to your house and transport waste to your regional water utility.

SMUD and the Sacramento Area Water Works Association ask that you avoid using large amounts of water between 11 AM and 7 PM. Because energy prices are highest then, it costs your local water utility more to run the water pumps during those hours. These costs are passed along to you.

Avoid running dishwashers and clothes washers during peak hours. Water your lawn and gardens before 10 AM or after 10 PM.

Shop water saving products at SMUD Energy Store

Some large high-definition TVs consume as much energy as a refrigerator – up to 500 kilowatt-hours per year. ENERGY STAR® TVs are, on average, over 24 percent more energy efficient than other models.

That's good for you and the environment.

Choosing all ENERGY STAR® components for a typical home entertainment system can save you nearly $200 over the life of the products.

The following videos offer easy tips on how to save energy while preparing delicious meals.

Energy saving cooking tips

Learn how using the right sized pot and your microwave can help you save energy.

Quick cooking tips

More tips on how to cook meals faster and easier, keeping your kitchen cool.

Cook once, eat twice

Make preparing meals in advance a little easier by using ingredients that can do double duty.

Easy grilling tips

Use your grill to make meals from pizzas to panini!