Energy-Saving Tips for Your Home

Learn how to save energy at home all year round with these helpful energy-saving tips.

Are you ready to start keeping more of your hard-earned money? Being more energy efficient in your home is the best way to help lower your energy costs and save money.

To help you get started on the road to savings, we've put together this list of helpful tips to get the most out of your appliances while using the least amount of energy possible.

Natural Gas Heaters

Heating is the number-one energy expense for most customers. In fact heating can account for more than half of your total natural gas bill. Upgrading to a more energy-efficient model can help you save up to $33 per year.
 
  • SoCalGas provides weatherization and furnace repair/replacement to qualified limited-income customers.
  • Save up to 10 percent on heating costs by lowering your furnace thermostat by three to five degrees, health permitting.
  • Install a programmable thermostat to help automatically regulate your homes temperature for comfort control and energy savings.
  • Save up to $20 per year by installing or upgrading insulation in your attic and walls.
  • Keep your heating system tuned-up to operate at maximum efficiency.
  • Clean or replace your furnace filters according to manufacturer recommendations.
  • For safety and efficiency keep all heating vents and furnace registers free of dirt lint and obstructions.
  • Have your air ducts tested for leaks. Leaky ducts can cost you between 10 to 30 percent in heating & cooling costs.

Water Heaters

  • Water heating can account for up to 25 percent of your bill.
  • When buying a new water heater, choose an ENERGY STAR certified natural gas model.
  • Check with your local water utility to see if they have rebates on water heaters.
  • The energy efficiency of a storage water heater is indicated by its "Energy Factor" (EF). The higher the EF, the more efficient the water heater
  • SoCalGas offers rebates on qualifying ENERGY STAR certified natural gas water heaters with an energy factor of .67 or higher.
  • Don’t buy a water heater bigger than you need. Before you shop, estimate your household's peak hour demand and look for a water heater with the capacity to meet that demand.
  • Always consult a contractor when considering a tankless water heater installation.
  • Visit the ENERGY STAR store locator  to find a retailer near you.
 

Clothes Washers

Choosing an energy-efficient clothes washer and following a few simple tips can save you money on your natural gas, electricity and water bills. 
 
  • When shopping for a new clothes washer, look for the ENERGY STAR label. ENERGY STAR certified models use 30 percent less energy and can save up to $77 per year.
  • Wash full loads or adjust the water level to fit the size of your load.
  • Save up to 10 percent on water heating costs by washing and rinsing your clothes in cold water.
  • Select a laundry detergent formulated to clean effectively in cold water.

Clothes Dryers

Natural gas clothes dryers are more energy-efficient than electric ones. They are generally less expensive to operate. If you have an old, inefficient dryer replacing it with a new, more efficient gas model could save you 10 to 20 percent in energy savings.
 
  • When buying a dryer, look for higher Energy Factors, which indicates the dryer's energy efficiency. This rating system applies to both electric and gas units and accounts for pounds of clothing dried per kilowatt-hour of energy use.
  • Check the ductwork to be sure that it is clear of obstructions and that the outside vent opens and closes properly.
  • Dry full loads, but don't overload or over dry. Separate lightweight and heavy clothes for more energy-efficient drying.
  • Dry two or more loads in a row to take advantage of the heat still in the dryer.
  • Clean the lint filter before drying each load.
  • Clean the machine. Periodically remove any buildup of lint and dust from the dryer exhaust, the back of the dryer and behind the lint screen.
  • Replace leaky exhaust terminals. Check the outside dryer exhaust terminal to make sure it closes as it was designed to do and is not blocked with lint.

Natural Gas Fireplaces

For a warm and cozy atmosphere, consider installing a natural gas fireplace insert, which can also provide a heating source for a room.
 
  • Highly efficient natural gas fireplace inserts can heat up to 1,000 square feet of living space.
  • Install glass doors in front of your fireplace to help keep warm air in the house. Natural gas fireplace inserts not only help keep your house clean, but create less pollution than wood-burning fires.
  • Add an elegant cast iron fireback to your fireplace to promote heat transfer into the room.
  • Use your energy wisely. Don't run your natural gas fireplace when you're not in the room to enjoy it.

Natural Gas Barbecues

  • A natural gas grill can be permanently installed in your yard, or portable models are available with a quick-disconnect.
  • When you use a natural gas grill constructed of stainless steel, you have a unit that will prove long lasting, and provides a true commercial-quality kitchen appearance. Other grill exteriors are made of enameled steel and aluminum. Look for heavier, thicker grades for the longest life.
  • Top-rated burners, cooking grids and grates are made of stainless or enameled stainless steel, cast or brass.
  • For an additional fee, a representative from SoCalGas will connect your natural gas barbecue.
 

Pools and Spas

Natural gas pool and spa heaters use less energy and heat water faster than electric heaters. You can help save on energy costs by following a few simple steps.
 
  • Lower the pool or spa heaters temperature setting.
  • Install a time clock to preset and minimize heating hours.
  • Keep your spa or pool covered when not in use. Well-fitted pool and spa covers help prevent heat loss and could save you up to $20 per year.
  • Consider purchasing a solar pool cover. It uses the sun to heat the water’s surface.
  • Reduce pool filtering and automatic pool sweep time to a minimum and schedule it for off-peak hours before noon and after 6 p.m.
  • Check the accuracy of your spas thermostat. An inaccurate thermostat can cost you hundreds of dollars each year.
  • Replace your pool pump. Save as much as 40 percent by replacing your pool pump with a more efficient unit.

Pool Filters

  • Pools need to be filtered. How long you should filter your pool depends on:
    • The pool size.
    • The filtering equipment.
    • How much you use the pool.
    • Different environmental factors (such as how much sunlight hits the pool).
  • Keep in mind that the more you use your pool, the more filtering it will need.

Pool Cover

  • There are two types of pool covers:
    • Thermal/opaque covers help prevent heat and water loss. If left on during the day, they also transmit some heat to the pool.
    • Solar covers help transmit heat to your pool from sunlight. They also help prevent heat and water loss.
  • When shopping for a pool cover, be sure to check the durability, warranty, insulation value and safety features, as well as the price. If you have small children, be sure to choose a cover that will prevent them from being trapped underneath it.

Pool Heaters and Timers

  • Pool heaters expand pool usage by extending swimming hours in the day and swimming months in the year. Energy-efficient natural gas pool heaters use less energy than electric heaters and cost less to operate.
  • A filter time clock is an easy way to manage pool filtering. Check your clock's instruction manual for directions on setting the operation times.

Caulking and Insulation

  • Caulking and weather stripping help seal your home and reduce drafts keeping heat inside during winter and cool air inside during summer.
  • Caulking works best for gaps that are 1/2" or smaller. For larger gaps, you can use a foam sealant that comes in a spray can.
  • Save roughly 10 to 15 percent on your heating and cooling bills with caulking and weather-stripping.
  • Insulation blocks the flow of heat through attics floors and walls by forming dead air spaces.
  • Save up to $20 per year by installing or upgrading insulation in your attic and walls.

Cooking and Natural Gas Ovens

Natural gas is the number-one choice for chefs and it’s no wonder it’s instant on instant off and distributes heat evenly.
 
  • Don’t preheat your natural gas oven if you don’t have to. If you’re baking breads and cakes pre-heating your oven may be necessary. For most foods like casseroles and broiled items pre-heating isn’t necessary.
  • Don’t open the oven door while food is cooking. You can lose up to 50 degrees in temperature and waste energy.
  • Cover pots when cooking and cook by time and temperature guides.
  • Cook several meals at the same time.
  • Use pots and pans that fit the burners. Pans that fit a burner absorb more of the energy reducing the amount of heat lost.
  • Keep oven and burners clean. A clean oven uses energy more efficiently.
  • Never use the natural gas range for room heating. It is not designed for this purpose and can create a hazardous situation.

Dishwashers

  • Skip the drying option on your dishwasher and save up to $4 per year.
  • Purchase a new ENERGY STAR certified dishwasher with energy-saving settings, such as partial load setting (which uses less hot water) and energy-efficient drying cycles.
  • Check with your local water utility to see if they have rebates for new energy-efficient dishwashers.

Ducts

Leaky ducts can waste energy used to heat and cool your home. In fact leaky ducts can cost you between 10 to 30 percent in heating & cooling costs.
 
  • Have your ducts tested for air leakage. If you suspect an air duct problem have a contractor check behind registers in your crawlspace or in the attic for crushed disconnected or leaky ducts.
  • Ducts should be repaired with mastic-type sealant not duct tape.
  • Clean your ducts to increase the airflow and minimize contaminates released by the duct system.
  • Insulate heating or air-conditioning system ducts with one to two inches of insulating batting.
  • Be sure a well-sealed vapor barrier exists on the outside of the insulation on cooling ducts to prevent moisture buildup.

Electrical Appliances

Air Conditioning

Choosing an energy-efficient air conditioning and heating system and following a few simple tips can save you money on your electric bills.
 
 
  • New air conditioners are far more efficient than older designs. Upgrade and save between 20 to 50 percent on your cooling costs.
  • Find a unit that is the right size and has the highest SEER that is within your price range. Look for the ENERGY STAR label to ensure that your air conditioner is among the most efficient in its class.
  • Set your air conditioner thermostat to 78F or higher health permitting when you’re at home. Set it at 85F or turn it off when you’re away from home.
  • Consider installing a programmable thermostat to regulate usage.
  • Clean or replace filters regularly according to manufacturer recommendations. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for air conditioner maintenance and operation such as replacing dirty filters and keeping vents clear of obstructions.
  • Use a fan instead of your air conditioner to circulate air.
  • Open windows for cool air during the evening and early morning.
  • Close blinds or other window covers to block direct sunlight.

Home Office and Den

With greater opportunities to work at home, "home office" energy costs can add up! Here are some steps you can take to help save energy and money while working at home.
 
 
  • Turn off lights, computers and monitors, and other office equipment when they are not being used, when you leave a room and at night. If your computer is plugged into a power strip, be sure to switch the strip off after shutting down your computer.
  • Replace regular incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs or LED bulbs. CFLs can save about 60 to 80 percent over incandescent bulbs while providing the same light output with less heat, not to mention they last about 10 times longer.
  • If your computer has a "low power standby," be sure it is set in that mode.

Indoor Lighting

By taking simple steps to lower your lighting energy usage, savings can add up quickly!
 
  • Turn off lights (and other appliances) when they are not being used and when you leave a room.
  • Use Compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) in recessed fixtures. CFLs use about 60 to 80 percent less energy. Save time and money by replacing bulbs in recessed light fixtures less often.
  • Replace your halogen torchiere lamp. Using one torchiere six hours a day costs between $50 to $100 per year.

Outdoor Lighting

Take simple steps to lower your exterior lighting energy usage. Savings can add up quickly.
 
 
  • ENERGY STAR labeled outdoor light fixtures are more efficient than conventional fixtures and help save you money on utility bills.
  • Outdoor light fixtures, including post- and wall-mounted fixtures, floodlighting and ground-level walkway lighting provide safety, security and decoration.
  • Install timers, time clocks or photocells to ensure that exterior lights are turned-off at the appropriate time.
  • Check with your local electric utility regarding the availability of rebates and incentives for energy-efficient exterior lighting.

Refrigerator

Refrigerators can eat up more energy than any electrical kitchen appliance in your home. New, efficient models use about half the electricity compared to older refrigerators.
 
  • Look for an ENERGY STAR certified model to ensure high-efficiency.
  • If you have two refrigerators, or an additional freezer, consider whether you really need to operate more than one.
  • Turn off your refrigerator’s moisture control. Doing so can reduce energy use by about 10 percent.
  • Dirty coils on the back or bottom front of your refrigerator can make it work harder than necessary. Check and vacuum them at least twice a year. Proper maintenance can improve your refrigerator's efficiency by about 10 to 30 percent and extend its life.
  • Allow hot foods to cool before placing them in the refrigerator. Hot food decreases the temperature in the refrigerator temporarily, forcing the refrigerator to work harder to keep the air cool.
  • Don't leave the refrigerator door open any longer than absolutely necessary.
  • Make sure your refrigerator door seals are airtight. Check them by placing a flashlight inside and close the door. If you can see light with the door closed, replace the seal.

Patio Heaters

Natural gas patio heaters utilize radiant heat warming objects instead of the air surrounding them. When shopping for a heater, be aware of the size of the area to be heated. The efficiency of patio heaters is affected by the wind its best to install them in a sheltered area providing specified minimum clearances for combustibles. Permanently mounted directional natural gas patio heaters can be installed in eaves along walls or on specially designed posts and are less affected by air movement adding to their efficiency.
Actual savings obtained in each instance may vary and will depend on various factors, including geographic location, weather conditions, equipment installed, usage rates and so forth. Completing multiple energy-saving measures will not necessarily result in cumulative savings.