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.
- Adjust ceiling fans to turn counter-clockwise in the summer.
- Use fans instead of central air conditioning whenever possible. A fan costs about 90% less to operate.
- Change the air filter regularly. An air conditioning unit with dirty filters can use 5-10% more energy. In general, HVAC system air filters should be replaced once a month. However, since there are different types of filters, you should check your manufacturer’s recommendation regarding replacement. You can find your filter in the return air register (may be on the wall or ceiling) or on the HVAC unit itself.
- Clean the condenser coils. Make sure your AC system is off at the thermostat. Then, clean the outdoor coils with a garden hose by gently washing in a downward angle (only if on the ground). For a deeper clean, you can spray the coils with a mild cleaning solution and let it sit for 10 minutes before rinsing.
- Clean the evaporator coils. This is quite easy and can be done in 5 steps:
- Turn off your AC system.
- Mix warm water and a mild cleaning solution.
- Open the panel with the evaporator coil in it.
- Spray the cleaner on the coils and let it sit for about 5 minutes.
- Gently wipe away dirt and debris with a soft cloth.
- 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.
- Get rid of your older-model refrigerator or freezer, especially if you have an extra one in your garage.
- Prepare cold meals or put your grill to work.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Start or program your dishwasher, washing machine or clothes dryer to run and finish before 5 p.m. or start after 8 p.m. Monday through Friday. You can save even more during the summer if you schedule household chores to finish before noon on weekdays or anytime on the weekends. Midnight to noon and all hours on weekends are at the lowest off-peak rate.
- Wash full loads of laundry whenever possible and switch your temperature setting from hot to warm to cut energy use in half for a single load. Using the cold cycle can reduce energy use even more. About 90% of the energy consumed for washing clothes is used to heat the water.
- Try to avoid using multiple appliances like your dishwasher, air conditioner and washer and dryer at the same time between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. during the week, when rates are highest.
- If you need to use your air conditioner during peak hours, try setting your thermostat a few degrees higher between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. during the week. You can save 3 to 5% on your cooling costs for each degree you raise the temperature on your thermostat.
- Keep your kitchen cool and make meals that don’t require your oven. Use your grill or small appliances to cook food. Small appliances like microwaves, toaster ovens and pressure cookers, use about 66% less energy than a conventional oven.
- Gaming systems are fun but also use a lot of energy. Give your system a rest from 5 to 8 p.m. Activate power saving settings and turn off controllers when not in use. Learn more at energystar.gov.
- 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.
Even when no one is home, your heating and cooling systems are still using energy to maintain the temperature set on your thermostat. By adjusting your thermostat a few degrees during peak hours, you can save on heating and cooling costs.
A smart or programmable thermostat can help ensure that your heating and cooling systems aren't running when your home is empty, and that the temperature is comfortable when you’re home.
Recommended temperature settings
|Home||6 AM||78° F or higher|
|Away||8 AM||Set the temperature at least 7° F higher than your Home setting.|
|Pre-cool||3 - 4:59 PM||Set the temperature to 78°|
|Peak||5 - 8 PM||80° F or higher|
|Home||8:01 PM||78° F or higher|
|Sleep||10 PM||Set the temperature at least 4° F higher than your Home setting.|
Smart thermostats learn your preferences and habits and can create a custom temperature schedule. You can also create your own schedule. Smart thermostats can help reduce your home energy use and lower your energy bills. Plus, most smart thermostats can be easily controlled from anywhere and many offer reports that help you manage your energy use.
Visit SMUDEnergyStore.com where you can take advantage of exclusive instant rebates and special deals on a variety of smart thermostats.
Smart thermostat operating guides
Programmable thermostats automatically adjust the thermostat temperature at different times of the day, according to a schedule that you select. For example, if you’re away from your home during the day, you can program your heating and air conditioning systems to warm your home or cool it down automatically before you return.
Though our rebate program has ended, you can still save money by switching to a variable-speed pool pump.
Did you know that running your pool equipment can use as much energy as it takes to power your entire home? Upgrading to an energy-efficient pool pump can add up to big savings all summer long.
Pool pump information
Running filtration equipment
You can help reduce your peak-period power demand by running filtration equipment before 5 p.m. and after 8 p.m.
Bigger may not be better
Replacing a standard pump and motor assembly with a high-efficiency variable-speed pump will yield impressive savings in electricity costs without a compromise to cleaning effectiveness. Replacing an oversized pool pump with an energy-efficient pump is an investment that usually pays for itself in just two to four years.
Running a pump at half speed reduces power use to one-quarter of that required for full speed. The pump will need to run twice as long at low speed to filter the same amount of water, but you will still save money. Running the pump for 16 hours on low speed costs about half as much as running eight hours on high speed.
Cost of operation
Here's a real-life comparison of operating costs for a 25,000-gallon pool with a standard pump vs. the same pool with a variable-speed pool pump.
With a standard 1.5 horsepower pool pump: $1.73/day or $51.90/month
- Runs 8 hours a day
- Pumps about 80 gallons per minute
- Circulates 38,400 gallons a day
- Draws 9.0 amps at 240 volts at $0.10/kWh
With a variable-speed pool pump at low speed: $0.65 per day or $19.50 per month
- Runs 12 hours a day
- Pumps about 40 gallons per minute
- Circulates 28,800 gallons a day (the pool only needs to turn over the water once a day)
- Draws 2.25 amps at 240 volts at $0.10/kWh
The variable-speed pool pump provides just the circulation your pool needs at a fraction of the cost. (Please note these figures are for comparison only and actual savings will depend on rate structure and use.)
Pool and spa tips
Run the pump
On Time-of-Day pricing, consider running the pool pump during lower-cost off-peak hours, and have pool operations end by noon. Keeping the pool circulating a longer period of time each day has a couple of advantages:
- The longer periods of circulation will help to reduce algae.
- If you have a salt system, you can run the system many more hours per day and get increased chlorine production if needed.
A good pool cover keeps water temperatures about 10 degrees higher and reduces evaporation of water and chemicals by about 70 percent. Your pool stays warmer—and cleaner—as energy use and equipment wear are minimized.
Keeping a spa heated can use a significant amount of energy, especially during the winter. If your spa is 240V, and always heated to your maximum temp (usually 100+), consider the following tips:
- For daily use in the winter, lower the temperature 3 to 5 degrees after use, and turn it back up an hour before use the following day. Maintaining a lower spa temperature during winter nights will help you save.
- For spas that go more than a day between uses, lower the heat setting to the lowest temperature after use, then turn it back up the morning of the day you plan to use it. This will be your biggest spa energy saver!
- Keep the spa covered until you're ready to use it—heat loss is money wasted. Add a floating thermal blanket to the rigid cover used with most spas; the added layer conserves heat and reduces evaporation.
- If your spa is 120V, heating it takes a long time, so keep your temperature adjustments within 3 to5 degrees under your desired temperature.
Consult a professional
While it can be tempting to save money in the short term, you’re not always best served by maintaining your pool or spa yourself. Without proper knowledge and experience with pool equipment and chemicals, you may have to replace equipment more often and you risk structural failures such as cracked pool shells, which can be very expensive to replace. If you’re not sure how to handle a pool or spa issue, talk to a Certified Aquatic Equipment Installer (CAEI) SMUD Professional. To learn more visit www.fpsie.org
For information about how to adjust your pool pump for maximum bill savings, call 1-916-732-5732.
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.