Start Simple

Ready to start saving energy and money today? Most of these actions can be done by homeowners or renters and many are free.

Reduce Everyday Energy Use

  1. Hot Water Temperature. Reduce the temperature on your water heater to 120 degrees. (Use a calibrated thermometer to measure the temperature of your tap water at the hottest setting.) Water temperatures hotter than 120 degrees increase the risk of scalding and waste energy.
  2. Thermostatic Shutoff Valve. If it takes several minutes for hot water to reach your shower, install a thermostatic shower shutoff valve. It will turn the water off as soon as it gets hot, so you won’t waste hot water even if you walk away.
  3. Low Flow Showerheads. Use low-flow showerheads and take brief showers. You can measure the gallons per minute (GPM) of your existing showerhead using a bucket and timer. (Example: If it takes 24 seconds to fill to the 1-gallon mark, the showerhead uses 1 gallon/0.4 minutes = 2.5 GPM.) Look for the WaterSense label to find a showerhead that uses less than 2.0 GPM.
  4. Laundry and Dishes. Wash clothes in cold water. Consider drying clothes on a line or hanger. Run only full loads in your clothes washer and dishwasher.
  5. Power Strips. Use power strips to shut down electronics and appliances completely. Big screen TVs, cable boxes, DVRs and video game consoles can be big energy wasters in standby mode.
  6. Lighting. Replace incandescent light bulbs, most of which waste 90% of their energy through heat, with CFLs, LEDs or other high-efficiency lighting. Turn off lights when not in use and/or install occupancy sensors.
  7. ENERGY STAR. When you buy new appliances, look for the ENERGY STAR label.
  8. Extra Refrigerators. Get rid of your second refrigerator, especially if it’s more than 20 years old. It might be costing you hundreds of dollars per year to keep just a few items cool. Some utilities will pay you to pick up your old fridge.
  9. Refrigerator Temperature. Set your refrigerator temperature to 37 degrees F and your freezer to 5 degrees F. (Use a calibrated thermometer to test the temperature.) Colder settings waste energy.
  10. Pool Pumps. Replace your single-speed pool pump with a variable-speed pool pump. Try reducing the time your pump runs by an hour or two per day and see if it noticeably affects water quality.

Reduce Seasonal Energy Use

  1. Thermostat Settings. Set your programmable thermostat to 65 degrees (or lower) in the winter and 78 degrees (or higher) in the summer.
  2. Filters. Clean or replace your filters every month or two (when in use).
  3. Go Natural. Use natural breezes (ventilation) and sunlight when possible. Close drapes during the day to keep unwanted solar heat out.
  4. Demand Response. Participate in your utility’s demand response program (if available). You may be able to get a discount on your bill for agreeing to use less electricity on particularly hot days. Quick links:
    1. SDG&E  |   SoCal Edison  |  PG&E
    2. Others – contact your local utility

Get Informed, Get Involved

  1. Use a Wattmeter. Use a wattmeter to see how much power individual appliances use.  You can buy one for around $20.  Be sure to test your appliances in both “on” and “standby” (or “off”) modes to detect “phantom” power use.
  2. Monitor Your Energy Use. Sign onto your utility’s online account to view your energy use over the last year. If you have a smart meter, you can see how much electricity you use on an hourly or daily basis.
  3. Attend an Event. Attend one of CSE’s free educational events to learn about home energy upgrades.
  4. Make a Commitment. Ask each member of your household to commit to one new energy-saving action today.
    • Place everyone’s commitments in easy-to-see places near the locations of their actions.
    • For example, your child might write, “I will turn off the lights when I leave the room” and tape this reminder near the light switch in his or her room. You might write “I will check my energy use on a weekly basis” and place this note near your computer.
    • People are more likely to follow through with an action if they make a written commitment and see reminders. Leave the reminders up for a few weeks until your energy-saving actions become second nature.