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Managing Your Energy Use

Efficiency is Key

Being smart about the way you use energy can keep you comfortable and help you save money. Here are more than 100 ways to make your home more energy efficient.

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Heating and Cooling

Home Heating

Heating your home is the largest user of energy and offers the greatest opportunity for savings. To reduce your heating costs:
  • Have your heating system tuned and inspected by a service professional before each heating season.
  • Clean or replace the furnace filter often. Furnaces use less energy if they “breathe” more easily.
  • Keep furniture, carpeting and curtains from blocking heat registers and air return ducts.
  • If radiators are located near cold outside walls, place a sheet of aluminum foil between the radiator and the wall to reflect heat back into the room.
  • When replacing your furnace, look for one that’s at least 90% efficient.
  • Add an extra blanket for warmth while sleeping.
  • Close your attic, basement, garage and exterior doors to prevent cold drafts and keep in heat.
  • Ceiling fans set at a slow speed push warm air away from the ceiling and move it around the room.
  • Tips for choosing a Heating and Cooling Contractor.

Thermostat Settings

You’ll typically save 1% to 3% on your heating costs for every degree you dial down:
  • Installing a programmable thermostat before the heating season could save as much as 20% on your heating costs. Plus, when you install a programmable or wi-fi thermostat you may qualify for a rebate.
  • Set your thermostat at 68 degrees when you’re home and at 65 degrees when you’re away for a short time. If you’re used to higher settings, dial down one degree at a time until you feel comfortable.
  • Lower your thermostat to 58 degrees if you’re away from home five hours or more. It takes less energy to heat a house up then to keep it heated while you’re away.
  • NOTE: Warmer temperatures are recommended for homes with ill or elderly persons or infants.

Water Heater

Water heating is typically the third-largest energy expense, accounting for about 14% of energy bills:
  • Take a shower instead of a bath. You’ll use less hot water.
  • Turn off hot water when you don’t need it. Don’t let it run when you wash or shave.
  • Keep your hot water hot by making sure pipes in unheated areas are insulated.
  • Install a low-flow aerator or flow restrictor on an existing showerhead, and you’ll use less water.
  • Set your water heater temperature at 120 degrees. By lowering the thermostat, you can cut water heating bills without sacrificing comfort.
  • Save even more by setting your water heater to “on vacation” (if your unit has this feature) when you’re away from home more than two days.
  • You may qualify for a rebate if you install a high efficiency or tankless water heater. Click here to check.


Beat the summer heat and stay comfortable with these energy savers:
  • Buy an air conditioner with a high energy efficiency rating. The rating is printed on the EnergyGuide label.
  • Clean leaves and debris from your air conditioning unit.
  • Install your air conditioner in the shade. When it’s in direct sunlight, it uses more energy.
  • Clean the filter regularly. Dusty filters make your air conditioner work harder.
  • Don’t cool unused areas. Close doors and registers to cut energy costs.
  • Operate your stove, oven, dishwasher and clothes dryer in the morning or evening when it’s cooler outside.
  • Set the air conditioning thermostat at 78 degrees during the day when you’re home and higher when you’re away.
  • A ceiling fan cools fast and costs less than air conditioning.
  • Tips for choosing a Heating and Cooling Contractor.
  • Get an AC tune-up to be sure your air conditioning is operating at peak efficiency.
  • Installing a new air conditioner? Check here to see if you qualify for a rebate.


Your dishwasher uses hot water from your water heater to do its job. To save on water heating:
  • Set your dishwasher at 120 degrees or “low” if you can.
  • Make sure your dishwasher is full (but not jam-packed) when you run it and use the shortest cycle that is needed to get your dishes clean.
  • Let your dishes air dry instead of using the drying option, or use the non-heat drying option.
  • Keep the dishwasher drains clean since they are more efficient when cleaned regularly.


Your refrigerator/freezer is one of the biggest energy users in your home. These tips can help you waste less and save more:
  • Don’t keep the fridge too cold. ENERGY STAR® recommends a temperature range between 35°-38°F to keep food fresh, but not waste energy.
  • Get an inexpensive refrigerator thermometer at your local hardware store, put it on a shelf in your fridge, adjust your temperature settings and then follow the manufacturer’s instructions for how long it will take to adjust. Use the thermometer to double check and make sure the temperature is right.
  • Clean your refrigerator’s condenser coils at least twice a year. Dirty coils make your fridge work harder and use more energy.
  • Like your belly, a full fridge is a happy one. Keeping your fridge and freezer fuller uses less energy than an emptier one because it has less air in it and air warms up faster than food each time you open the door.
  • If you don’t tend to have a full fridge, keep a few jugs of water in there for an inexpensive way to use less energy. If your freezer isn’t very full, add some bags of ice.
  • While full is good, try not to overpack your fridge or freezer. Leaving a little bit of room on the front of the shelves allows the cold air to circulate better.
  • When your fridge and freezer doors are closed, put your hand near the edges and make sure you don’t feel cold air escaping. If it feels cold, your refrigerator is not sealing properly and you might as well leave the door open. Try replacing the seal first as an inexpensive fix.
  • Pull the plug on “Old Yellow” or whatever name you have for your old second refrigerator. An old refrigerator could be costing you up to $150 a year in electric bills.

Stove and Oven

Cook delicious meals and help lower energy costs by following these suggestions:
  • Preheat the oven only when the recipe calls for it and don’t preheat if you’re using the broiler – it heats up pretty quickly.
  • If you have a gas stove, look at the color of the flames from your burners. If the flames are yellow, energy is being wasted and the burners need adjusting. Call an appliance repair professional.
  • Make sure pots and pans are the right size for the burners and use lids when you cook. Foods will cook faster, and less time slaving over a stove is never a bad thing.
  • Use glass and ceramic dishes since they hold heat better.
  • Open the oven door as little as possible. If you are patient and trust your cooking skills, you’ll save the heat and energy you lose - usually 25 to 75 degrees - each time you avoid opening the door.
  • Want some encouragement to grill out more? Remember that using your oven during the hottest months makes your air conditioner work harder.
  • Try using your other small appliances like crockpots, electric frying pans and microwaves a bit more. They are often more energy efficient and save you money, but still get the job done.
  • Practice your dicing skills - small pieces of food cook faster and that saves your energy.
  • Looking for a new gas stove? Choose a model with electronic igniters instead of pilot lights for the highest efficiency.
  • Electric stoves more your style? Try turning off the stove when your meal is almost done. The burners stay hot long after you turn them off.
  • If you have a self-cleaning oven, clean it immediately after cooking since it will take less energy to raise the temperature to the cleaning stage.

Washer and Dryer

Washers and dryers are some of the biggest energy users in the house, so a little extra attention here can prevent your money going down the drain:
  • Washing your clothes in cold water saves on water heating costs, keeps colors from fading and clothes from shrinking.
  • Wash a full load when you can. If you can’t wait for a full load, use the appropriate load-size setting.
  • Remember to add the right amount of detergent. Too many suds make your washer work harder and use more energy, plus too much detergent can lead to mildew.
  • Air dry your clothes when you can. Not only will this cut down on your energy bill, but it’s less damaging to your clothes. Hang them outside during the warmer months for energy savings and that fresh air smell. Indoor drying racks are a good option for year-round drying and can pay for themselves within a year.
  • Try not to overload your clothes dryer or do really small dryer loads. Dryers tend to work most efficiently with a medium load where clothes have room to tumble and the warm air can circulate.
  • Stop your dryer when the laundry is dry since over drying can put extra wear and tear on your clothes (lint is fabric that is worn off your clothes during the drying process) and wastes energy.
  • Remember to clean the lint traps on your dryer before every load and clean your dryer vents periodically. It helps you use less energy and also prevents a source of home fires.
  • When you can, dry your laundry in consecutive loads to take advantage of a heated dryer and save energy.

When Shopping for New Appliances

Other Appliances

Look around your home for additional places to save:
  • Have your water pump serviced if it stays on too long after using water.
  • Be sure the thermostats on appliances work properly. If the thermostat sticks, the appliance stays on and raises your energy bill.
  • Unplug electronics when not in use or try a smart power strip. Computers, televisions and other electronics use energy when they’re plugged in even though they’re turned off.
  • Turn off the humidifier or dehumidifier when they’re not needed.
Around The House

Caulk and Weather Stripping

Prevent warm or cool air from escaping your home. Here’s how:
  • A 1/8" crack around the door equals a softball-sized hole in the middle of the door. Seal cracks in your basement floor.
  • Caulk windows, doors and areas where pipes, electrical wires and ducts enter your home. Do not caulk around water heater or furnace exhaust pipes.
  • Weather-strip around windows and doors.
  • Replace torn or worn weather stripping and caulk.


More than 50% of energy used for winter heating is lost through the walls, floors, ceilings and attics:
  • Adding fiberglass insulation in your attic is one of the most cost-effective ways to save and you can do it yourself. Required R-values vary across Michigan. Check with a store that sells insulation or a local contractor for the requirements in your area.
  • Add extra insulation to floors by covering them with a pad and rug.
  • Prevent heat loss as warm air travels through heat ducts from your furnace by wrapping heat ducts with insulation.
  • Insulate hot water pipes in unheated areas to keep water hot.
  • Get rebates on insulation and windows whether you do the work yourself or hire a contractor.


Get great light at a great price at the store and on your energy bill:
  • Switch out older incandescent bulbs for dramatically more efficient LED or CFL bulbs. These bulbs can last 10 times longer and use 50% to 80% less energy. That means you buy fewer bulbs, spend less time changing bulbs and waste less energy.
  • Consumers Energy offers instant in-store rebates for energy efficient lights in styles, shapes and lighting warmth to fit almost every need and taste. CFLs are a great value and the latest LED bulbs last even longer, come on instantly and look great. Be on the lookout for our logo on the shelf in the lighting aisle to find great values. Find your nearest retailer for discounted LEDs and CFLs.
  • If you use certain lights for more hours than others – like in your kitchen or your front porch - upgrade those bulbs first to maximize your savings.
  • Select the right light bulb. When buying bulbs, check the lumens. The higher the lumens, the more light you’ll get. Most retailers offer displays to show the lumens and the color of the bulbs.
  • Increase the power of reflection by putting lamps in corners where two walls reflect light into the room.
  • Place security lights on a timer, motion or photoelectric control so they’ll turn on and off automatically.


Take a look at these energy-saving ideas:
  • Let your drapes hang loose, and be sure they don’t block heat registers and air-return ducts.
  • Vinyl shades and quilted curtains help reduce heat loss.
  • Harness the Winter Sun: Open drapes, shades and blinds to allow direct sunlight in during the winter to reduce heating cost. Close these at night to keep the heat in.
  • Block the Summer Sun: Close drapes, shades and blinds during the heat of the day to reduce your heat gain.
  • To reduce air conditioner use on hot summer days, open windows and doors in early morning and in the evening to let cooler air in, but close drapes and shades in between during the heat of the day to keep the sun out.
  • An inexpensive way to improve the efficiency of your windows is use clear plastic or vinyl sheeting on the inside of your windows to make a temporary double pane window. Most hardware and home improvement stores sell kits.
  • A more permanent way to cut your heating loss is to install storm windows.
  • Consider replacing old windows with new high-performance windows. It is not usually the first place to invest in improvements to save energy, but if you have older windows, it can help and they look great. Check out website for available rebates on energy efficient windows.
Other Considerations

Building a New Home

If you’re planning to build or buy a new home, be sure to add energy-saving features that can save you money year after year:
  • A few well-placed trees and shrubs will protect your home from winter’s icy winds and summer’s hot sun; plant evergreen trees and shrubs to the north and northwest of your home, and leafy trees with high-spreading crowns to the south and west to let in the winter sun.
  • Install a vapor barrier facing the inside of your home to prevent damp air from getting into the insulation.
  • Install the water heater close to the point of use. Water stays hotter when it’s piped a short distance.
  • All window and glass areas should have storm windows or have double or triple glazing.
  • Insist on high energy efficient appliances.

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