Start by creating a checklist and posting it on the bulletin board or fridge so that everyone knows what the plan is going to be.
These should be items that are done by the home owner by just changing their life style a bit and paying attention to little things. For a more extensive and thorough home energy audit or heat loss assessment, seek the advise of a professional to analyze the home and make recommendations for energy improvements.
Living spaces : In the Winter, keep the draperies and shades on South-facing windows, which recieve teh most sunlight, open during the day to allow the sunlight to enter the home and closed at night to be used as a type of insulation and reduce the chill in the room.
Minimize the use of the fireplaces. Warm air escapes through the chimney. Make sure the fireplace damper is closed unless a fire is burning. If the fireplace is never used, plug and seal the chimney flue.
Kitchens: Use kitchen ventilation fans (that vent to the exterior) wisely. In just a short period of time the fans can pull out a house full of warm air. That air is being replaced by outside air and now needs to be conditioned.
When baking, keep preheating time to a minimum. Use the smallest pan possible so that less energy is required to heat it. Limit the number of times the oven door is opened as heat is lost with each opening.
Scrape food and bones from dishes into the trash, don't rinse. Soaking and prewashing are generally recommended only in cases of burned-on of dried-on food.
Cover pots and pans with lids to retain heat and reduce cooking time.
Situate the kitchen so the refrigerator or freezer is away from direct sunlight or warm air (such as a range, dishwasher, heat ducts....etc) so the appliance does not use additional energy to remain cold.
Bedrooms: When using a window air conditioner, turn it off or reduce the setting when leaving the room. Also ensure it is sealed properly in the opening to prevent air infiltration.
Keep heated water beds covered when not in use.
Plug all holes in the walls including light switches, outlets, and windows to prevent air infiltration/exfiltration.
Unblock all heating registers, air supplies and return vents. If the return vents are outside the room be sure the entry door is not in contact with the carpet preventing air flow when the door is closed.
Clean registers, baseboard heaters and radiators.
Bathrooms: Leaving the bathroom door open after a shower will allow warm steamy air to circulate through the house.
Avoid using the commode as a trash can. Each flush uses approximately six gallons per flush. If replacing commodes, consider a low water consumption commode.
Turn off water when shaving, washing your face or brushing your teeth. Turn on water as needed.
Install low-flow showerheads in the shower and repair leaky faucets/toilet fixtures. Water heating is the second largest energy use in a home.
Use bathroom ventilation fans sparingly. These fans temporarily help remove the humidity during and after a shower or bath. These fans can pull 50 to 100 cubic feet of air out of the house per minute. Depending on the season, this can waste conditioned air and electricity.
Laundry Rooms: Only wash full loads of laundry to maximize the use of electricity and natural gas.
Use the lowest temperature possible when using the washing machine.
Dry clothes in the summer during the coolest part of the day and in the winter during the warmest part of the day. Never dry clothes when sleeping or when no one is home. Dryers can pull approximately 300 cubic feet of air out of the house per minute. Unconditioned air will be pulled into the house from any opening available.
When replacing washing machines, consider front-loading washing machines as they use less energy and water as older top load models. Front-loading models take more moisture out of the clothes thus reducing the drying time needed.
Do not overfill the dryer since the machine requires that warm air circulates around the clothes to efficiently dry the load.
Clean dryer filters after each load.
If drying time seems to increase, check and clean the dryer vent pipes and exterior vent.
Attic/Basement: Check with the EPA for recommended R-Values in your zone. In Ohio the EPA recommendation for attic insulation is now at R-49. Check with a professional for more information on if your attic needs additional insulation. Insulation is approximately R-3 per inch.
Verify insulation at air ducts in non conditioned spaces to prevent loss of heat/cool depending on the season.
Verify insulation is present at basement rim joists on exterior walls.
Have a professional tune up and inspect your furnace once a year. Keep the area around the furnace clean.
Follow the manufacture suggestion on changing the air filter.
Set the water temperature on the water heater at approximately 120 degrees. Higher temps cause more heat loss and can cause injury in a short period.
All Rooms: Setting the thermostat lower can save as much as 10 percent a year. A programmable thermostat can be installed to lower the temperature at specific times.
Add humidity to your home by keeping houseplants or a humidifier. Humid air feels warmer and is helpful in reducing winter colds and dry skin.
In the winter, kits can be purchased that can create a dead air space acting like a storm window on older windows.
Keep south facing window glass clean to maximize the amount of sunlight that shines through the windows.
Use fluorescent for compact fluorescent bults to light rooms and exteriors. The can last up to 10 times longer and use 25-75 percent less energy.
Turn off lights when not using them. Times or sensors can be installed to reduce the time the lights are left on.
Keep bulbs frrom of dirt and duct as dust reduces efficiency of the bulbs.
Repair any leaky faucet or component.
Unplug any unused charger for batteries to reduce the energy gremlins slowly using energy when the charger is not connected to device or a battery in the charger.
Shut down computers and peripherals when not in use instead of going into sleep mode.
Use a power strip to turn off multiple devices when not in use. Be sure to properly log off any device before turning off the power strip.
When replacing appliances be sure to look for the Energy Star logo. Visit www.energystar.gov for more information.
There are many incentives by federal and state governments including tax credits to encourage energy efficient homes. Check www.odod.state.oh.us/cdd/oee and click on INCENTIVES for more information.