Equipment & Appliance Checklist

If you are concerned about your electric bill, this “do it yourself” checklist will cover some major energy consuming devices and ways to better control your electrical usage.

Your home operates as a system and every segment needs to be analyzed in order to be efficient. This checklist mentions a number of issues that have a direct bearing on how efficiently you use electricity.

Heating Systems
When the house is occupied, the recommended temperature setting during the winter is 68°F.
When the house is unoccupied, the ideal setback temperature varies depending on your heating system:
1.  Heat Pump with Electric Backup – the setback temperature should onlybe a few degrees below the occupied temperature setting. This should allow theheat pump to regain occupied setting without bringing on the backup electricheat. However, special heat pump programmable thermostats will allow you to lowerthe set back temperature even more without sacrificing efficiency.
2.  Fossil fuel or Electric Furnace (without a heat pump) – the unoccupiedsetback temperature should be in the range of 60-65°F.
Leave the registers open and do not block registers with furniture(air flow is critical).
Change the furnace filter every 30-60 days.
Close drapes at night and on cloudy days.
Use bathroom and kitchen vents only when moisture and odors become a problem.
Insulate hot and cold water pipes in unheated areas.
Seal all the joints in the ductwork and insulate in unconditionedareas.
Have the heating system inspected and serviced every year, by aqualified heating contractor.
If you have natural gas or propane appliances make sure your carbonmonoxide (CO) detectors are operating.

Cooling Systems
Set the thermostat at 78°F. Each degree highersaves approximately 6 percent on air conditioning costs.
Don’t turn the thermostat lower than the desired setting.The house will not cool off any faster and can overshoot the desiredtemperature – wasting energy.
Keep the outdoor unit coils free of dirt, leaves and debris.
Cut back plants and bushes that may restrict air flow to the outdoorunit.
If the house is unoccupied during the day, you can save energyand money if you turn off your air conditioner and leave your houseclosed up. If not, and you don’t like coming home to a warmhouse, purchase a programmable thermostat to turn on the air conditionerin time to have the house cool when you arrive.
Keep primary and storm windows shut when closing up the house forthe day or when running the air conditioner.
Close your drapes on hot sunny days. If there is some way to shadeyour windows from the outside, this will keep out even more heat.Plan landscap¬ing to allow winter sun in and block summer sunout.
Make sure your clothes dryer is vented outdoors. You don’tneed the heat or humidity inside the house.
Use bath and kitchen vents to exhaust heat and moisture. Turn offthe gas furnace pilot light in the summer. Ask a dealer how to turnoff and relight pilot lights.
Install a ceiling fan to create air movement. The air movementcan keep you cool at a higher temperature, allowing you to avoidrunning your air conditioner, or letting you set the air conditionerat a higher temperature.
Change the furnace filter every 30-60 days.
Have the cooling system inspected and serviced yearly, by a qualifiedcooling contractor.

Water Heating
Set the water heater temperature at 120°F if youdon’t have a dishwasher or if you have one with a booster heater.A dishwasher usually requires 140°F water.
Install flow reducing shower heads.
Drain a bucket of water out of your water heater at least oncea year, or more often if you have hard water to flush out the sedimentthat can accumulate.
Insulate your water heater, unless it’s a newer insulatedmodel.
Insulate the first ten feet of hot and cold water pipes out ofthe water heater.
Insulate pipes in unheated spaces.

Refrigerator/Freezer
Set the refrigerator temperature at 34-37°F andthe freezer temperature to 0-5’’°F.
Vacuum the vents and coils twice a year. Dust makes them work longerto cool.
Don’t block air circulation around the refrigerator.
Turn on the energy saver switch unless moisture begins to condenseon the refrigerator.
If you have a manual defrost model, don’t let frost buildup more than 1/4 inch.
Replace gaskets that don’t seal tightly.
The higher ambient air temperatures of a garage in the summer greatlyincrease the operating costs of the units.

Lighting
Use lower wattage lamps in fixtures where you don’tneed as much light, such as hallways and bedrooms.
Where possible, use one higher wattage lamp instead of severallower wattage lamps. However, don’t use a higher wattage lampthan what is recommended for the fixture.
Use florescent fixtures and lamps whenever possible. They use ¼ theenergy of an incandescent lamp, and provide the same amount of light,and last-7 – 20 times as long.

The High Bill Test

If you are wondering what makes your meter really spin, the followingis a simple procedure you can do to identify a possible problem area.

The test requires at least two people. First, turn on all the majorelectric consuming devices. Next, have someone stand by the meter andwatch the dial or the clocks spin while the other shuts off all the electricconsuming devices, one by one, that are fed off that meter.

There are a couple of things you are looking for:

  1. Which appliance(s),when shut off, slows the meter down the most.
  2. By watching the meter,you can observe if a motor is possibly short cycling (rapidly turningoff and on), which will cause increased kWh usage and decreased motorlife.
  3. If, to the best of your knowledge you have everything shutoff and your meter dial or clock is still turning, you may have a groundingproblem, a short or something running you are not aware of.

Statistics show that if a meter is defective or have failed, they willalmost always slow down. So if you are using more kWh than you expected,this procedure will show you which appliance(s) are problem candidates.