EQ Factor - Maintaining and Energy Effiecient Home

Energy efficient new custom homes

Best Practices

The information below categorizes energy-using equipment that affect your monthly utility bills. These general best practice measures can serve as ongoing reminders of the combined impact that equipment, controls, and behavior can have on energy consumption. A well-maintained home will result in energy savings and greater comfort.


Interior and Exterior Lighting

  • As lightbulbs need replacing, make sure to use compact fluorescent lamps or LEDs.
  • Use day lighting and task lighting in perimeter spaces when overhead fixtures are not needed
  • Retrofit light switches to include occupancy sensors, timers or photo cells in areas that are frequently unoccupied
  • Use outdoor lights with a combined photocell and motion sensor
  • Never leave exterior or security lighting on during the day


Heating and Cooling

  • Replace air filters once a month or as needed
  • Have a professional perform routine preventive maintenance, including coil cleaning, on the HVAC equipment



  • Install programmable thermostats and/or check thermostat settings and programming to set back the temperature when the home is not occupied
  • Set thermostat to 76°-78°F for occupied cooling and 85°F for unoccupied
  • Set thermostat to 68°-72°F for occupied heating and 55°F for unoccupied


Duct System

  • Periodically check accessible ducts for visible penetrations
  • Seal any duct leaks using a specialized sealant called duct mastic (duct tape is not recommended)


Whole House Air Leakage

  • As your new home settles, make sure to seal any air leaks. Use caulk, spray foam, or weather stripping to help maintain energy efficiency and thermal comfort
  • Check for leaks in the attic and crawlspace, then seal all penetrations around windows, doors, and electrical outlets


Plug Load

  • Selecting energy-efficient office equipment and electronics, as well as turning off machines when they are not in use, can result in significant energy savings
  • Switch monitors to sleep mode or turn them completely off when not in use, as the screen saver mode does not save energy
  • ENERGY STAR® computers and monitors save energy only when the power management features are activated, so make sure power management is activated
  • Unplug power supply cords that utilize an AC adapter (for laptop computers and other devices), as the transformer in the AC adapter draws power continuously, even when the laptop or device is not plugged into the adapter
  • Unplug battery chargers when the batteries are fully charged or the chargers are not in use. Unplug appliances or switch off the power strip to cut all power to unused appliances or electronics.
  • Install power strips with occupancy sensors in offices, desktops, and areas where loads are not needed unless occupied


Did you know that 75% of the electricity used to power electronics is consumed while the products are turned off, but not unplugged?


Exterior Doors

  • Air seal (weather strip) exterior doors or doors opening to unconditioned spaces
  • Air sealing of doors involves both the sides around the jambs and along the bottom of the door



  • Regulate solar heat gain by using blinds or exterior shading devices. White blinds, shades, or curtains reflect heat away from the home
  • Lower solar shades in summer to block heat gain from the sun, and raise them in winter to allow for solar heating


Water Heater

  • Drain a quart of water from your water tank every 3 months to remove sediment that impedes heat transfer and lowers the efficiency of your heater
  • Set water heater at proper temperature (usually 120°F)
  • Insulate your hot-water storage tank, but be careful not to cover the thermostat. Follow the manufacturer's recommendations
  • Insulate hot water lines
  • Repair all water leaks—especially hot water; examine for leaks on the water heater pressure-relief valve
  • Consider a solar thermal water heating system



  • Wash your clothes in cold water using cold-water detergents whenever possible
  • Clean the lint filter in the dryer after every load to improve air circulation
  • Periodically inspect your dryer vent to ensure it is not blocked. This will save energy and may prevent a fire



  • Routinely clean the coils
  • Make sure your refrigerator door seals are airtight. Test them by closing the door over a piece of paper or a dollar bill so it is half in and half out of the refrigerator or freezer. If you can pull the paper or bill out easily, the latch may need adjustment and/or the seal may need replacing
  • Cover liquids and wrap foods stored in the refrigerator. Uncovered foods release moisture and make the compressor work harder
  • Don't keep your refrigerator or freezer too cold. Recommended temperatures are 37° to 40°F for the fresh food compartment of the refrigerator and 5°F for the freezer section
  • Regularly defrost manual-defrost refrigerators and freezers as frost buildup decreases the energy efficiency of the unit. Don't allow frost to build up more than one-quarter of an inch



  • Check the manual that came with your dishwasher for the manufacturer's recommendations on water temperature; many have internal heating elements that allow you to set the water heater in your home to a lower temperature (120°F)
  • Be sure your dishwasher is full, but not overloaded, when you run it


Cooking Equipment

  • Keep range-top burners and reflectors clean; they will reflect the heat better, and you will save energy.
  • Use a covered kettle or pan to boil water; it's faster and it uses less energy
  • Match the size of the pan to the heating element
  • Use small electric pans or toaster ovens for small meals rather than your large stove or oven. A toaster oven uses a third to half as much energy as a full-sized oven
  • Use pressure cookers and microwave ovens whenever it is convenient to do so. They will save energy by significantly reducing cooking time
  • Align oven doors and/or replace missing gaskets


Remember to regularly clean and dust all appliances, as clean equipment operates more efficiently!