Saving energy and money at work and at home

When thinking about conservation, there are two basic questions to answer. First, what technological changes can be made at your organization? Second, what behavioral changes can be made? Using advances in technology typically get a bigger energy savings bang, so think about changing out incandescent lights for fluorescent ones or buying a more efficient air conditioning unit. (Then call BWP to find out if you qualify for an Energy Solutions rebate!)

But don't discount the multitude of small, easy energy-saving actions that every employee can take. These add up for big savings.

BWP offers up this list of tips to help you and your organization save energy, both at work and at home.

Lighting Tips:

  • Replace incandescent bulbs with Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs). CFLs use 75% less energy and last 8 to 10 times longer than incandescent lights making them worth the extra up-front cost. BUT, use CFLs appropriately - place them in fixtures that remain on for at least 3 hours daily. Special CFLs are required to operate with dimmers or 3-way switches.

Turn off lights!

  • Incandescent lights should always be turned off when not in use. Fluorescent lights work optimally when they are not turned off repeatedly, so only turn off when you plan to be away for 30 minutes or more.
  • When day lighting is adequate.
  • Leave minimal lighting on during non-business hours or when you are away from your home as necessary for safety; otherwise, shut off all lighting.

Use the right amount of light:

  • Consider three-way lamps and dimming switches. This will make it easier to keep lighting levels low when brighter lights are not necessary.
  • Use one large wattage lamp rather than two small ones. Example: use one 100 watt rather than two 60 watts light bulbs.
  • Use task lighting (table and desktop lamps) instead of room lighting.
  • Keep light fixtures, shades and bulbs clean!

Air Conditioning Tips:

  • When you are away from home or work set the thermostat to 85°.When home, set to 76°-78°, health permitting.
  • Turn off central air conditioning 30 minutes before you plan to leave your home or office. The building will maintain a cool temperature for that time.
  • Consider using ceiling or portable fans to circulate and cool the air.
  • Choose air conditioning units with thermostat controls and programmable timers.
  • Open windows and shades during the evening when it's cooler. Use blinds, shades, and awnings to keep the heat out.
  • Turn off lights, TVs and computers when they are not being used. They make air conditioning work harder!
  • Do not place lamps or TV sets near your air conditioning thermostat.
  • Close off unoccupied rooms and shut their air conditioning vents; turn off room air conditioners in unoccupied rooms.
  • Clean or replace air conditioner filters regularly.
  • Keep outside air conditioning units free from leaves that may clog vents.
  • Insulate the attic, outside walls, floors, and ducts. Seal cracks with caulking and weather strip around windows and doors.
  • Consider installing a solar powered fan in the attic for adequate ventilation.
  • Consider purchasing an ENERGY STAR® air conditioning unit.

Cooking Tips:

  • Use microwaves to defrost, cook, and re-heat food instead of an oven.
  • Don't block microwave vents.
  • Turn off coffee machines when not in use and use small appliances for small tasks, such as a toaster instead of an oven.
  • Make sure the seals in the oven fit properly.
  • Keep lids on pots when cooking. While baking, do not open the oven; consider using the light instead.
  • Keep microwaves and ovens clean and well maintained to work most efficiently.

Dishwashing Tips:

  • Only run dishwashers when they are full and use the economy cycle for everyday washing.
  • Instead of using the drying cycle, stop the dishwasher, open the door and let dishes dry naturally. It takes more energy to dry dishes than to wash them.
  • Use cold water to rinse dishes before loading them into the dishwasher.
  • Wash dishes in the sink where possible.

Laundry Tips:

  • Use a clothesline instead of a dryer when possible.
  • Only run the clothes washer and dryer when fully loaded.
  • When possible, use cold water to wash clothes.
  • Clean the clothes dryer filter after each load.
  • Spin clothes thoroughly before drying.
  • Do not over-dry clothes; use minimum amount of time necessary to dry them.
  • Dry lighter items together and heavy items together.
  • Consider purchasing ENERGY STAR® washing machines.

Heating Tips:

  • Turn down the thermostat. Wear warm clothing and set the thermostat to 68° or lower during the day and evening, health permitting.
  • Put extra blankets on the bed.
  • Roll up towels and put them at the bottom of doors to stop drafts.
  • On sunny days, keep the shades, blinds and drapes open. At night, close curtains, draperies and blinds to keep the heat in.
  • Close closet doors and doors to unused rooms.
  • Use reversible ceiling fans to push warm air downwards and keep rooms warmer.
  • Make sure your home is properly insulated and seal cracks with caulking.
  • Consider installing ENERGY STAR® windows.
  • Switch off heating when you are out of the house.
  • Keep heating registers and air vents clear of obstacles and make sure you clean or replace furnace filters regularly.
  • Keep outside heating units free from leaves or debris that may clog vents.
  • Choose heaters with thermostat controls and programmable timers.
  • Cover wall-mounted air conditioners with plastic film or an airtight cover.
  • Close the fireplace damper after the fire is out.
  • Do not use fireplaces while your central heating system in on.

Water Heating Tips:

  • Wrap insulation around water heaters and long-run hot water pipes.
  • Match water heater size to your needs and set the temperature at 120°-140°.
  • Turn thermostat down to a minimum on water heater when you are away for more than two days.

Pool and Spa Tips:

  • Set the heater thermostat to 78° or lower.
  • Use a timer to operate the filter pump.
  • Check with your pool supply advisor for recommendations on how long to run your pool pump daily. Don't run it any longer than necessary.
  • Use a wall brush and leaf skimmer frequently and follow a regular program of preventative maintenance.
  • Use a cover or blanket on pools and spas when they are not in use.
  • Consider using solar heating as an alternate source.
  • Run your pool pump during off-peak hours. Summer peak hours are 10a.m-5p.m.

Tips on Saving Water in the Bathroom:

  • Install an ultra low-flow toilet. These use 1.6 gallons of water per flush vs. 3.5 gallons or more.
  • Install low-flow aerators and showerheads.
  • Repair all water leaks.
  • Take short showers instead of baths.
  • Collect water with a bucket while waiting for the shower water to heat up and use it later for other purposes.
  • Do not leave water running when shaving or brushing your teeth.

Tips on Saving Water in the Kitchen and Laundry:

  • Repair plumbing leaks and fix dripping faucets.
  • Install low-flow aerator on all faucets.
  • Do not leave water running when rinsing dishes.
  • Do not use running water to thaw meat or other frozen foods.

Tips on Saving Water Outside the House:

  • Use a broom, not a hose to clean driveways, steps, and sidewalks. If a hose must be used, control the flow a shut-off nozzle.
  • In the summer, water your garden during the coolest part of the day.
  • Direct downspouts or gutters toward shrubbery or trees. Collect rainwater in a large bucket for other outside uses.
  • Adjust sprinklers to insure you are not watering the house, sidewalk, or street.
  • Adjust the automatic sprinklers with the seasons.
  • Shut the sprinklers off when it is raining.

General Suggestions:

  • Do laundry & dishes during off-peak energy hours. Summer peak energy hours are noon to 6:00 p.m.
  • Use trees and landscaping for shading purposes.
  • ENERGY STAR® is the label given by federal government to products that exceed energy efficiency standards. To find out more about Energy Star, visit or call 1-888-782-7937.
  • Conservation works! Your efforts will save you money and will help California get through the energy crisis.

Useful Telephone Numbers:

  • Burbank Water and Power Conservation Services and Rebate application processing: 818-238-3730.
  • Public Works Bulky Item Pickup: 818-238-3805 (24-hour recording).
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