This post on the Best Ways to Save Energy was originally seen on Mapawatt.  The goal is to provide homeowners a reference page that will help guide them to things they can do and incentives they can earn for saving energy.


What are the best ways to save energy?  It’s a topic that we’ve been wondering a lot about.  The best ways to save energy for someone in Alaska are probably going to be much different from someone living in Southern California (mainly for heating and cooling reasons).  But some tips (like changing incandescent bulbs to CFL or LED) work no matter where you live, because everybody uses light.

Before you start saving energy, you may need to get a better understand of just what energy is.  If you’re an energy noob, start with:

Energy Saving 101

Once you gain an understanding of what energy is, you are better equipped to understand your utility bill and how to get the numbers on that bill to go down!

Cheap, Quick, and Easy Energy Saving Tips
We have put together a free energy saving guide that you can download if you register for the Mapawatt Newsletter (or purchase for $2.99 from Amazon). The title of the guide is 5 Cheap, Quick and Easy Energy Saving Tips.  As the title implies, it covers low or no cost strategies users can employ that won’t take too much time or effort.  A summary of that guide can be seen below:

  • Monitor and Track Energy Consumption
  • Insulate, Seal, and Block
  • Install and Use a Programmable Thermostat
  • Turn Off, Turn Down, Turn Up and Unplug
  • Install CFLs and/or LEDs

Most of these tips are covered in our post on the Top Ten Home Energy Conservation tips under $100.  View the post for descriptions, but a list of the tips can be seen below:

  1. Put in CFLs ($1.25/bulb)
  2. Get a programmable thermostat ($30-$100)
  3. Install a ceiling fan ($50-$100)
  4. Get a whole home electricity monitor ($80)
  5. Get an appliance level electricity monitor ($20)
  6. Install the Perfect Flush by Brondell ($68)
  7. Get a bicycle pump for your car tires ($27)
  8. Use an automatic light sensor – ($15 )
  9. Rechargeable Battery Charger and Batteries – ($12.50)
  10. Find air leaks with a thermal leak detector ($23.50)

Energy Saving Projects

If you’ve already conquered the cheap, quick and easy strategies, you may need to move to the next level.  We covered a free energy saving guide that Southface Institute put together, that is a great guide for DIY projects.  Other things you can do:

  • Home Energy Audit
  • Upgrading Insulation
  • More efficient heating and cooling system

Clean Energy

If you’ve done all you can for Energy Conservation (not using energy) and Energy Efficiency (using less energy to do the same amount of work), you may be ready for the third step, Clean Energy.  Clean energy systems, like Solar PV panels or Wind Turbines, will help you produce your own clean energy, which will lower the amount of energy you need to buy from your utility. The different types of residential clean energy producing systems are (and the type of energy they produce):

  • Solar PV (electricity)
  • Solar Thermal (heat)
  • Wind Turbine (electricity)
  • Biomass (electricity and heat)
  • Micro-hydro water turbine (electricity)
  • Natural Gas Fuel Cell (electricity and heat)


If you have done all the energy saving activities you can do that don’t cost you money, you might have to consider spending some money to save some more energy.  If you are going to do that, you want to make sure to take advantage of all the incentives that are available.  In our post on finding energy incentives we mentioned the following types of incentives

  • Tax Deduction
  • Tax Credit
  • Rebate
  • Free audit
  • Grant
  • Loan
  • Discounts


If you are planning major energy improvements, you may need to finance your energy saving investment.

One option is the

where you can take out money for energy improvements when buying or refinancing a new home.

On our page on solar financing we covered a list that One Block off the Grid put together. Their categories include (with their corresponding hyperlinks):

Other Links:

Smart Ways to Save Electricity

Top Energy Saving Tips

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Comment by Ryan Schuchler on August 31, 2012 at 11:57am

Chris, thank you for posting this informative blog. To add to the comment made by Gjorevski, energy efficient replacement windows can reduce heating and cooling bills (and, of course, conserve energy) regardless of the type of climate. They'll help to keep the heat outside of your home when the temperatures are high, but conversely will keep the heat inside your home when it's cold outside. Triple Pane windows are an even better option, since they provide maximum energy-efficiency. Thanks again for these helpful tips!

Comment by Gjorevski Saso on August 30, 2012 at 12:57pm

After i changed windows last year and put insulation on one wall of my house (the one on north side), I noticed drastic energy saving - especially in winter when temperatures can be as low as -25 below zero.

Comment by Chris Kaiser on August 27, 2012 at 2:53pm

Eventually I'd like to create a checklist that users can use to stay on top of what they have done and what they would like to do.

Comment by Chris Laumer-Giddens on August 27, 2012 at 9:10am

That's the key, "staying on top of it." The simple act of installing doesn't cut it. A lot homeowners don't take the time to learn, but some of them do.

I think paying attention and following through with the information/tips in posts like this is what homeowners can do to impact their energy use the most.

Comment by Chris Kaiser on August 27, 2012 at 9:01am
I always tell people to program their thermostats. And then repeat it over and over. Most people may program them once, then forget to ever adjust it. Staying on top of a home's programmable thermostat is probably the single biggest thing a homeowner can do to lower their energy consumption. Thoughts?
Comment by Chris Laumer-Giddens on August 27, 2012 at 8:00am

Well done, Chris!

What have you found to be the most effective of all these strategies. I see and hear so many different results, and there's never any one thing can be said works for every home. They're all different with their own conditions. A house may be tight, but have poor windows. And, vice versa.

So, just wondering what others are seeing as the most beneficial energy saving strategy (at least, on average)


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