No Cost, Low Cost Tips

Affordable Ways to Save

Saving money doesn’t have to be hard or expensive. Make simple changes that have a big impact.

DTE Energy knows your time is precious, so we’ve put together a wide-ranging selection of no cost, low cost tips that you can use to quickly make your home more energy efficient, one room at a time. Take advantage of simple ways to enhance your lighting, improve your heating and much more.

Source of tips: EnergyStar.gov.

You can save $ without spending loads of $. Check out these no-cost tips to start saving today.

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Lighting Tips

Saving Money
Lighting represents about 20% of your home's electricity bill. Switching from incandescent bulbs to ENERGY STAR® qualified CFLs or LEDs is the easiest step you can take to save on your energy bill and help the environment.

Switching to LEDs and CFLs
Switching from old-fashioned incandescent bulbs to CFLs and LEDs is an effective, simple way to save energy and money. CFLs and LEDs use up to 75% less energy without sacrificing light output. CFLs last 10 times longer while LEDs can last up to 25 years longer than traditional incandescent bulbs.

Outdoor Lighting
The outdoor porch light is one of your home's most used fixtures. ENERGY STAR® certified fixtures use 75% less energy and come in a variety of styles and finishes. Many include features such as motion sensors or automatic daylight shut-offs.

Light Fixtures
ENERGY STAR® certified light fixtures combine attractive design with the highest levels of efficiency. Replacing five fixtures in your home with ENERGY STAR® certified models could save you $75 a year in utility bills.

ENERGY STAR®-Certified Lighting
Switching from traditional lighting to ENERGY STAR®-certified lighting is a smart move. With energy savings of 70% to 90% or more, you can save between $30 and $80 in electricity costs over each bulbs lifetime.

Inefficient Incandescent Bulbs
Traditional incandescent light bulbs use a lot of energy to produce light and 90% of the energy is given off as heat. That loss of energy is money we are throwing away.

Three-Way Bulbs
Does your fixture have a three way switch to provide three different light levels? If it does you'll need to look for an ENERGY STAR® certified bulb that is specially designed to provide three different light levels and marked "Three-Way."

Heating Tips

Furnace and Boiler
Maintenance
Clean or replace furnace and air filters regularlyfilters should be cleaned or replaced at least every three months.  Dirty filters block air flow, causing your furnace and central air conditioning to work harder and less economically.

Air Filters
Change your air filter regularly. Check your filter every month, especially during heavy use months in the winter. At a minimum, change the filter every 3 months. A dirty filter will slow down air flow and make the system work harder to keep you warm and wastes energy.

Thermostat
Programmable Thermostat
Install a programmable thermostat and set it at 68 degrees Fahrenheit or lowerthe recommended setting for winter. Through proper use of pre-programmed settings, a programmable thermostat can save you about $180 every year in energy costs.

Lowering Your Temperature
Dress appropriately for the weather and on cold winter nights, put an extra blanket on the bed and lower your thermostat another degree or two to save even more.

Check out our DTE Rebate Program to learn how you can get money back for buying a new thermostat.

Air Sealing and Insulation
Seal Then Insulate
Homeowners can save about 10% of their total energy bills by sealing air leaks first, followed by adding insulation. Seal air leaks using caulk, spray foam or weather stripping.  Weatherizing your home this way is one of the most cost effective ways to improve energy efficiency and comfort.

Sealing Hidden Leaks
Air can leak out of your house around windows, doors, skylights and other openings. If you add up all of the hidden air leaks in your home, they can equal a hole the size of an open window! To maximize home efficiency, seal all the gaps where air can leak out.

Sealing With Fire-Resistant Materials
Seal air leaks around fireplace chimneys, furnaces and gas-fired water heater vents with fire-resistant materials such as sheet metal or sheetrock and furnace cement caulk.

Doors and Windows
Insulated Drapes
Install insulated drapes or blinds to keep warm air inside. In the winter, keep the draperies and blinds on your south-facing windows open during the day to allow the sunlight to enter your home and closed at night to reduce the chill and drafts.

Plastic Window Sheeting
Seal the leaks! It may be too cold outside to caulk around windows, but you can still install low-cost, clear plastic window sheeting over leaking windows to keep cold air out. The plastic must be sealed tightly to the frame to help reduce infiltration.

Ducts
Check your ductwork for air leaks, especially at joints. Seal off air leaks with foil faced tape rather than duct tape.

Humidifier
Too Much Moisture
If you have an humidifier, check it regularly for proper operation. It could be adding too much moisture to your indoor air.

Ventilation
Keep the Air Flowing
Make sure that rugs, drapes or furniture are not blocking air flow to heating/cooling registers or baseboard heaters. Also keep them clear of paper, files and office supplies.

Turn Off Fans
Turn off kitchen and bath and fans within 20 minutes after you are done cooking or bathing. Also, when replacing exhaust fans, consider installing high-efficiency, low-noise models.

Ceiling Fan
Changing Blade Direction
In the winter, run ceiling fans in the opposite direction going clockwise at the lowest speed to slowly circulate heated air.

Fireplace
Close Fireplace Damper
Tightly close fireplace damper, unless a fire is burning.  Keeping the damper open is like having a window open during the winter.

Gas Logs
Gas logs are an affordable way to revamp a wood-burning fireplace. With efficiency ratings as high as 75%, natural gas fireplaces are an economical way to heat selected rooms in your home.

Cooling Tips

Air Conditioner
Shading Your Unit
An air conditioning unit operating in the shade uses as much as 10% less electricity than the same one operating in the sun. Plant shade trees to shield your home and block the heat from the sun. Shade your air conditioner, too. Direct sunshine on the heat exchanger decreases its efficiency. A well-placed tree or awning will shade and protect the unit. Position window air conditioners on the shaded side of the house, away from direct sunlight. For more efficient cooling, close doors leading to uncooled parts of the house.

Air Filters
Change your air filter regularly. Check your filter every month, especially during heavy use months in the summer. At a minimum, change the filter every 3 months. A dirty filter will slow down air flow and make the system work harder to keep you warm or coolwasting energy.

Cover Open Registers
Cover or close open registers near window air conditioners so cool air doesn’t escape through the registers.

Thermostat
Programmable Thermostat
Install a programmable thermostat. Program your thermostat to work around your family’s summer schedule. A setting of 78 degrees Fahrenheit is recommended in the summer. With proper use throughout the year, programmable thermostats can save you about $180 annually in energy costs.

Check out our DTE Rebate Program to learn how you can get money back for buying a new thermostat.

Air Sealing and Insulation
Seal Then Insulate
Homeowners can save about 10% of their total energy bills by sealing air leaks first, followed by adding insulation. Seal air leaks using caulk, spray foam or weather stripping.  Weatherizing your home this way is one of the most cost-effective ways to improve energy efficiency and comfort.

Sealing Hidden Leaks
Air can leak out of your house around windows, doors, skylights and other openings. If you add up all of the hidden air leaks in your home, they can equal a hole the size of an open window! To maximize home efficiency, seal all the gaps where air can leak out.

Doors and Windows
Adding Shade
Close blinds and curtains on the south and west facing windows to block out summer sunlight. To add more shade, plant trees to shield windows or move container trees and plants in front of windows.

Adding Tinted Window Film
Tinted window film can help reduce solar heat gain during the summer and it will keep furniture and carpets from fading.

Ducts
Sealing Air Leaks
Check your ductwork for air leaks, especially at joints. Seal off air leaks with foil faced tape rather than duct tape.

Seal and Insulate
If you have ductwork that is located in an unconditioned spacesuch as the attic, a crawlspace, or unfinished basementseal leaks and insulate it. Wrap ducts in insulation to keep them from getting hot in the summer. Check to ensure that hanging flexible ducts are supported every four feet with an inch and a half wide or wider hanging strap.

Dehumidifier
Locate away from sources of dust and dirt (like woodworking equipment), which can clog coils and grills.

Reducing Sources of Moisture
Improving the drainage around the foundation of your home may result in decreased humidity in your basement. Ensure that clothes dryers are properly vented to the outdoors. Repair leaking outdoor faucets and if your home uses central air conditioning, consider installing an air conditioner vent in the humid space in your home.

Ventilation
Keep the Air Flowing
Make sure that rugs, drapes or furniture are not blocking air flow to cooling registers. Also keep them clear of paper, files and office supplies.

Exhaust fans
Use an exhaust fan to blow hot air out of your kitchen while cooking. Remember to turn off kitchen and bath exhaust fans within 20 minutes after you are done cooking or bathing. Also, when replacing exhaust fans, consider installing high-efficiency, low-noise models.

Ceiling Fan
Turning off the air conditioner
Use ceiling fans instead of cranking up the air conditioner in the summer. Open windows for cross breezes.

Changing blade direction
Use ceiling fans to provide additional cooling and better air circulation. Run the blades counter-clockwise or downward to cool more efficiently. Ceiling fans cool only people, not the room so remember to turn ceiling fans off when you leave the room.

Appliances
Laundry and dishwashing
Postpone laundry and dishwashing until the evening when the outside air is cooler.

Using a grill
Avoid activities that add heat and humidity to your home during the hottest parts of the day, such as cooking inside. Cook outside on the grill instead of using the oven.

Using your microwave
You can reduce cooking energy by as much as 80% when using your microwave for small portions.  This also helps save on air conditioning costs in the summer since less heat is generated when compared to using your stove or oven.

Appliance Tips

Arranging Appliances
If possible, locate refrigerators and freezers away from direct sunlight and other warm air sources such as ranges and heating equipment.

Refrigerator
Recycling Old Refrigerators
Older refrigerator models can use up to four times the electricity of new high-efficiency ones and cost up to $150 a year to run. Be sure to check out our DTE Appliance Recycling program to see if you’re eligible for money back.

More than 60 million refrigerators are over 10-years-old, costing consumers $4.7 billion a year in energy costs. By properly recycling your old refrigerator and replacing it with a new ENERY STAR®-certified refrigerator, you can save $35 to $300 on energy costs over its lifetime.

Sealing Air Leaks
Replace poor and cracked seals to avoid cold air leaks.

Maintaining
Keep coils and condenser areas free of dust.

Setting Temperatures
Keep your refrigerator compartment temperature between 36 and 38 degrees Fahrenheit. Check temperatures by leaving a thermometer in each compartment overnight.

Anti-Sweat Switch
If your refrigerator has an energy-saver (anti-sweat) switch, it should be on during the summer and off during the winter.

Freezer
Selecting Temperature
Keep the temperature at 0 degrees Fahrenheit.

Manual vs. Automatic Defrost
Manual defrost freezers use half the energy of automatic defrost models, but must be defrosted periodically to achieve the energy savings. Don't allow frost to build up more than one-quarter of an inch.

Positioning Inside
Unless you live in a mild climate, keep your freezer indoors, preferably in a basement. Extreme temperatures are hard on the compressor and can reduce the life of your freezer.

Recycling Old Freezers
An estimated 35 million freezers are currently in use in the U.S. Over 16 million of these freezers are more than 10 years old, costing consumers $990 million per year on their energy bills. Be sure to check out our DTE Appliance Recycling Program to see if you’re eligible for money back

Dishwasher 
Running Full Loads
Load it up. Dishwashers use about the same energy and water regardless of the number of dishes inside, so run full loads whenever possible.

Scrape, Don't Rinse
Rinsing dishes can use up to 20 gallons of water before the dishes are even loaded. Save yourself the rinsing just scrape food off dishes. ENERGY STAR®-certified dishwashers and today's detergents are designed to do the cleaning so you don't have to. If your dirty dishes sit overnight, use your dishwasher's rinse feature. It uses a fraction of the water needed to hand rinse. Instead of scrubbing, rinsing and drying each dish, just load them all in an ENERGY STAR® certified dishwasher that can save you over 230 hours of personal time over the course of a year.  That’s almost 10 days!

Setting Air-Dry Option
Use the air-dry option. Avoid using the heat-dry, rinse-hold and pre-rinse features.

Setting Water Temperature
Check the manual that came with your dishwasher for the manufacturer recommendation on water temperature. It may have an internal heating element that allows you to set the water heater in your home to a lower temperature.

Stove 
Using the Right Size Pots
Using the right size pots on stove burners can save about $36 annually for an electric range, or $18 for gas. Heat is lost and energy is wasted if the burner size is larger than the pot size.  A 6" pot on an 8" burner wastes over 40% of the burner's heat.  Covering pots and pans also helps you cook more efficiently and keeps your kitchen cooler.
 
Sealing the Door
Make sure the oven door is sealed tight. Avoid opening the oven door while bakingeach time the door is opened, about 20% of the heat inside is lost.

Cleaning Burners
With a gas range, keep the burners clean to ensure maximum efficiency. Blue flames mean good combustion; yellow flames mean service may be needed to ensure the gas is burning efficiently.

Clothes Dryer 
Cleaning Lint Filters
Clean your dryer's lint filter after every load.

Air-Dry Clothes
Consider air-drying clothes on clothes lines or drying racks.

Heavy Loads
Dry towels and heavier-weight items in separate loads.

Dryer Vent
Inspect the dryer vent regularly to make sure it is not kinked or clogged. Clean if needed.

Consecutive Loads
Dry consecutive loads to take advantage of the heat remaining in your dryer from the last load.

Avoiding Overload
Fill your clothes dryer but don't overload it. The dryer needs space for air circulation to efficiently evaporate the water caught in the fabrics.

Maintaining 
Periodically inspect your dryer vent pipe and remove any blockage. Better air circulation reduces drying time and saves energy.
 
Setting Auto-Dry
Set dryer to auto dry cycle. Over-drying clothes wastes energy.

Using Sensor Drying
Use sensor drying, not timed drying. ENERGY STAR® dryer models incorporate advanced moisture sensors to help you reduce your dryer’s energy use. This feature ensures that your dryer will automatically shut off when clothes are dry.

Clothes Washer 
Setting Water Temperature
Water heating consumes about 90% of the energy it takes to operate a clothes washer.  Unless you're dealing with oily stains, washing in cold water will generally do a good job of cleaning. Switching your temperature setting from hot to warm can cut energy use in half. Using the cold cycle reduces energy use even more.

Setting the Water Level
Set the water level on your washer to match the size of the load.

Leaving the Door Open After Use
Front-loading washers use airtight seals to prevent water from leaking while the machine is in use.  When the machine is not in use, this seal can trap moisture in the machine and lead to mold.  Leave the door ajar for an hour or two after use to allow moisture to evaporate.

Water Heating

Water Heater 
Setting Temperature 
Heating water can account for 15% to 20% of your utility bill. Most water heaters are set higher than necessary. Lower your water heater setting to 120 degrees Fahrenheit to save energy and money.* For every 10 degrees Fahrenheit reduction in temperature, you can save from 3% to 5% on your water heating costs. Also, lower the temperature on your water heater when you're away for more than two days.

*If you have a suppressed immune system or chronic respiratory disease, get advice from a health professional or keep your hot water tank at 140 degrees Fahrenheit due to the very low risk of promoting legionellae bacteria. 

Adding a Water Heater Blanket
If you have an older water heater, adding a water heater blanket will help increase its energy efficiency until you're ready to replace it.

Insulating Pipes
Insulate the first six feet of the hot and cold water pipes connected to the water heater.

Maintenance 
Drain a quart of water from your hot water tank every 3 months to remove sediment that impedes heat transfer and lowers the efficiency of your heater. Check your owner's manual and follow the manufacturer's advice when performing this operation.

Faucet and Shower 
Repairing Leaks
Repair any faucet leaks. A leaky faucet can waste gallons of water. Hot water leaking at a rate of 1 drip per second can waste up to 1,661 gallons of water over the course of a year, and waste up to $35 in electricity or in natural gas. Fixing drips is a cost-effective and easy way to save energy.

Choosing Faucet Aerators
Install an energy efficient showerhead and faucet aerators to reduce water use.

Choosing a Shower Head
With a new 2.5 gallon-per-minute (energy efficient) shower head, a 10-minute shower will use about 25 gallons of water, saving you 5 gallons of water over a typical bath.

 

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Home Electronics

Energy Usage
Consumer electronic products are responsible for 12% of household electricity use. Even when the chargers are not being used, they are still sucking up energy. Other electronics do the same thing, costing you money when you’re not even using it.

Skipping Screen Savers
Despite common belief, a screen saver does not save energy. In fact, more often than not, a screen saver will not only draw power for the monitor but will also keep the CPU from shutting down.

Sleeping or Shutting Off Your Computer
Make sure your computer automatically switches to "sleep mode" or manually turn the monitor off when it isn't in use.

Unplugging Electronics
Home electronics still draw power, even when you're not using them, and can account for up to 12% of your energy bill. Reduce that by simply unplugging your DVR, game systems, cell phones and other electronics when you're done. Just unplug and save!

Charging Your Cellphone
Unplug electronics such as cell phones and laptops once they are charged.  Did you know your cell phone's charger still draws energy even when it's not plugged into your phone?
 
Using Power Strips
Use power strips to reduce costs. There are three types of power strips: Timer-equipped (with programmable timers), occupancy sensing (with motion detectors), and current sensing (that can turn several outlets off or on). 

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