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General Efficiency and Sustainable Practices

Insulate your home when:

  • You have an older home and haven’t added insulation. Only 20% of homes built before 1980 are well insulated.
  • You are uncomfortably cold in the winter or hot in the summer— adding insulation creates a more uniform temperature and increases comfort.
  • You build a new home, addition, or install new siding or roofing.
  • You pay high energy bills.
  • You are bothered by noise from outside—insulation muffles sound.
  • Heaters have built-in heat traps.


  • Lower the thermostat on your water heater; water heaters sometimes come from the factory with high temperature settings, but a setting of 120°F provides comfortable hot water for most uses.
  • Insulate your natural gas or oil hot-water storage tank, but be careful not to cover the water heater’s top, bottom, thermostat, or burner compartment. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations; when in doubt, get professional help.
  • Insulate the first 6 feet of the hot and cold water pipes connected to the water heater.
  • If you are in the market for a new dishwasher or clothes washer, consider buying an efficient, water-saving ENERGY STAR model to reduce hot water use. See Appliances on page 22 for more information.
  • Install heat traps on the hot and cold pipes at the water heater to prevent heat loss. Some new water
  • Set your thermostat as low as is comfortable in the winter and as high as is comfortable in the summer.
  • Clean or replace filters on furnaces once a month or as needed
  • Clean warm-air registers, baseboard heaters, and radiators as needed; make sure they’re not blocked by furniture, carpeting, or drapes.
  • Bleed trapped air from hot-water radiators once or twice a season; if in doubt about how to perform this task, call a professional.
  • During the heating season, keep the draperies and shades on your southfacing windows open during the day to allow the sunlight to enter your home and closed at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows.
  • Maintain refrigerators and freezers in optimal working order by keeping coils clean and doors properly sealed.
  • Windows should be firmly closed and locked to prevent air seepage. Doors should be closed when rooms are not in use.
  • Do not permit the use of portable electric space heaters.
  • Blinds and curtains should be opened during the day to allow sunlight in for solar heat gain. In the evenings, close blinds, drapes, and curtains to reduce thermal heat loss.
  • Dress appropriately for the season; wear layers of clothing during the winter months.
  • Blinds and curtains should be closed at certain times of the day to prevent direct sunlight from entering the space during the cooling season.
  • Be aware of the scheduled hours of building operations and plan work accordingly; do not expect buildings to have fully operational HV AC systems during evenings and weekends when there is minimal occupant use.
  • Wear clothing appropriate to the seasons.
  • Keep all doors and windows in air conditioned spaces closed whenever possible.
  • During the cooling season, keep the window coverings closed during the day to prevent solar warming.
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