Energy Conservation and
Energy Efficiency Tips
First, look for the Energy Star
ENERGY STAR is a widely recognised and trusted label on products that meet strict energy-efficiency requirements set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). ENERGY STAR certified products are third-party certified and subject to ongoing verification testing. These appliances help consumers save money on operating costs, by reducing energy use without sacrificing performance, as well as protect the environment.
Home appliances, including refrigerators, hot water heaters, dishwashers and clothes dryers consume a lot of energy. Consider purchasing appliances with the Energy Star rating (see below) if you’re in the market for new appliances or are looking to upgrade.
Smarter, more connected homes
Automated control systems for air conditioning units, lighting and other systems that access data, such as outside air and room temperature, humidity, light level and occupancy, will boost home energy efficiency. New electronic devices and appliances can now be linked to the internet to provide real-time data that makes it easier to understand and lower energy use.
Some systems control smart appliances, for instance turning on an oven so it’s already pre-heated when you get home; turning off a coffee maker you accidentally left on; or closing a garage door or gate at your command.
Click on the icons to view.
Whether you’re roasting a chicken or sautéing veggies, chances are, your kitchen appliances get a daily workout. No matter what’s cooking, ovens and stoves consume a lot of energy.
- Switch to gas. A gas stove top is more energy efficient than electric. Even if your gas stove has an electric ignition (pilot light), you will pay much less per month to run a gas range.
- Convection or induction. For those who prefer electric stoves, consider an induction cooktop. Induction cooktops use electricity and magnetic coils to quickly heat pans and leave the remaining surface cool to the touch, making a more energy efficient stove. Also, consider a convection oven, which has a fan that continuously circulates hot air through the oven space. When food has hot air blowing onto it—instead of just surrounding it—it cooks more quickly and at lower temperatures.
- Buy a self-cleaning oven. It has better insulation which keeps the heat in, making a more energy-efficient oven. Just keep your use of the self-cleaning feature to a minimum, as this consumes a lot of energy, up to 8kWh.
- Bigger and better. Limit your use of small appliances like countertop convection ovens, bread makers and air fryers. These may be convenient time savers, but they are also high energy users. Use your conventional gas stoves to save energy costs.
Some cooking tricks to conserve energy:
- Cook multiple dishes at the same time. Be strategic with your oven racks and put multiple dishes in at the same time. You’ll save energy—and time!
- Try ceramic or glass pans. They hold heat better than metal ones. This means that you can cook your dishes at a lower temperature.
- Don’t peek! Use the oven light to check on your food when baking. Every time you open your oven, the temperature can drop 25o F, making your oven use more energy to bring the temperature back up.
- Turn off the heat early. You can save energy by using the residual heat left in the oven.
- Thaw your food first. This will help you cut down the time it takes to cook the food and reduce your oven’s energy use.
- Your cookware matters. Look for flat bottoms and straight sides, as well as tight-fitting lids. Food will heat up quickly and cook efficiently.
- Let the pan fit the burner. Don’t put that small saucepan on the biggest burner. If you use a six-inch pan on an eight-inch electric burner, you waste more than 40 % of the heat produced.
- Crank up the heat. Turn your burner to high first and lower the heat to finish cooking. Using retained heat saves energy.
- Give your burners a clean. Burner pans that are blackened due to heavy use make burners less efficient because they absorb a lot of heat. A clean burner pan reflects more heat onto your cookware.
- Maintenance is key. Service your air conditioners (A/C) according to the manufacturer’s schedule. Regularly clean or replace all filters to keep them running efficiently.
- Yes, size matters here too. Check the BTU rating to choose the right size A/C for your space. The BTU rating tells you how powerful the unit is. A too-powerful unit will cool the air but leave it damp and clammy. A weak unit will have to work overtime to maintain the set temperature, driving up your electricity bill.
- Check your features. Use the energy-saving features on your A/C:
- Use the programmable settings to set an exact temperature and schedule your A/C to turn off when you’ll be out.
- Use the energy-saving setting, which turns off not only the compressor, but also the fan, once your space has cooled off, thus conserving energy.
- Enable smart settings on smart A/Cs. Units combatable with Alexa or Google Assistant, for example, or a Wi-Fi-enabled thermostat can be adjusted with your smartphone. Because these units are so adjustable, the energy-saving possibilities are amazing and allow you to really fine-tune your usage.
- Green cooling. Plant shrubbery near your home. Shrubs planted near your exterior walls help insulate your home from heat, thus reducing your need for energy burning appliances to cool your home.
- Timing is everything. Night temperatures are typically cooler, so your room should remain cooler for longer without the A/C. Instead of using your A/C for the entire night, set a timer to have it switched off during the night. Alternatively, consider using it to cool down your room in the evening, then switching to a fan for the rest of the night.
- Cover your windows. Close blinds, shades and drapes on the sunny side of your home, or use tinted film on windows, to help keep your home cooler and reduce the work for your A/C. If you must turn on lights, use LED bulbs.
Energy efficient windows. Energy-efficient windows can decrease your air conditioning costs. Switching from single-pane to double-pane windows requires an initial investment, but the cost savings will add up as you spend less on energy bills. Installing window tint can also help. Tint film reflects solar energy to improve comfort year-round and provides impressive energy savings. By keeping windows shaded on hot days, you can cut down on air conditioning usage.
- Open your windows. Ventilation doesn’t help with A/C efficiency, but it is a good supplement for a fan by helping with air circulation. Note however, that a well-designed house will not require additional cooling.
- …or seal things up. Ventilation lessens the efficiency of air conditioning units, so if you must use an A/C, seal cracks and gaps around windows and doors to prevent air leaks and keep your unit running efficiently.
- The smaller the difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures, the lower your overall cooling bill will be, as the A/C unit has less work to bridge the temperature gap. So set your thermostat to the highest temperature you can tolerate. Experts recommend between 22-25oC, increased up to 27oC when you’re sleeping. Every degree of extra cooling will increase energy usage (and your electricity bill) by 6% to 8%.
Setting your thermostat to a lower temperature will not cool your home faster.
- Fan+ A/C. Using a ceiling fan in conjunction with an A/C will allow you to raise the thermostat setting about 4 degrees with no reduction in comfort. If available, adjust the blades of your fan to rotate counter-clockwise so it pushes cool air downwards.
New Tech. Consider investing in an inverter air conditioning unit. While it is more expensive than conventional units, it can be 30%-50% more efficient than conventional A/Cs.
Kilowatt hours (kWh) is a way to measure the amount of electricity consumed. It is commonly used as a unit for billing electricity delivered by electric utilities.
A kilowatt (kW) is 1,000 watts. A kilowatt-hour (kWh) is a measurement of the amount of energy a device would need to run for one hour. To estimate the kWh for your appliances and how they impact your electricity bill. Click here
GHG- Green House Gases (GHGs) are commonly water vapor, carbon dioxide, and methane. They trap heat in the air and use it to warm the earth. Excess Green House Gases, created by human activity such as burning natural gas (a fossil fuel) to create more electricity and driving cars create extra gases, which trap more heat and cause extra warming of the earth, commonly called Global Warming. Trees help to remove and store excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, thereby reducing global warming.
Trinidad and Tobago converts natural gas into electricity (commonly called generation). This gas is purchased by T&TEC at a lower rate than if it was sold on the open market and helps to keep electricity rates low. By reducing your use of electricity, you not only save money, you will help to protect the environment and save natural gas, which can be sold at a higher rate on the open market and used for further national development.
- Hand wash dishes instead of using the dishwasher.
- ENERGY STAR certified dishwashers have ‘smart’ features that minimise water use and the demand on the water heater and allow for quieter operation and less pre-rinsing.
- When shopping for a new dishwasher, consider how much water the dishwasher uses per cycle—less water means less cost to operate, especially if you’re using a water pump.
- Turn off the heated dry setting and air dry instead.
- Phantom loads, the electricity used in the background by electronics even when not actively in use, are a major source of energy waste. Turn off smartphones, tablets, laptops, game consoles and unplug chargers when not in use. Take advantage of ‘sleep’ modes, or low-power modes, for your computer and TV or use smart power strips. Advanced power strips eliminate phantom loads by shutting off the power to electronics when they are not in use. Smart power strips can be set to turn off, at an assigned time, during a period of inactivity.
- Unplug charging electronics like your smartphone once fully charged, they can still use electricity even at full charge. Don’t leave them plugged in overnight or use a smart power strip.
- Recycle your desktop computer and invest in a laptop which uses less energy.
- Set the display brightness on your smart TVs, tablets, laptops and smartphones to automatically adjust to the room’s brightness. When your computer monitor is not active for extended periods, let it switch to sleep mode or turn the monitor off instead.
- Go manual. Do household chores without electronic appliances when you can. Use a broom instead of a vacuum.
If you do use a vacuum, the following tips can help with energy efficiency:
- Go smaller. Right-sizing to a smaller appliance helps. A hand-held mini-vac uses less energy than your full-size upright.
- Less can mean more. Vacuum cleaners that use less power can be just as effective as high-wattage machines. A major driver of vacuum cleaner power usage is the motor, but it does not mean that less-powerful vacuums are less-effective at cleaning. The design of the motor, the kind of filter and overall design of the hose and cleaner heads all affect cleaning effectiveness. Take note of online customer reviews and look for an appliance that best suit your needs. Your flooring type, area use, cleaning routine and having pets can impact on your vacuum’s power requirements. Also, look for Energy Star rated appliances which offer superior energy efficiency
- Wood you? Surface type also affects how much energy a vacuum cleaner uses. A hardwood floor is easier to vacuum than a thick rug, which can require several passes and more time.
- Dirt bag! Keep your vacuum cleaner well maintained. A clogged filter and full bag reduce efficiency and increase power use.
- Robot power. Consider purchasing an automated vacuum cleaner. These vacuum robots are equipped with smart technology that lets you tell them where and when to clean. They only draw power when they’re charging in docks between cleaning. Most use less energy than a traditional upright, even if left plugged in all the time.
- Clothes washers with the ENERGY STAR rating cut energy consumption by up to 25% and water consumption by up to 33%, compared to conventional washers.
- Check if you need to use a special detergent as low-water washers need special low-suds detergent for best results.
- Consider an upgrade. – If your washer is ten years old or older, replace it. Newer washers have larger capacities yet use less energy and water.
- Use the right detergent. Modern front-load washers are designed to use high efficiency detergent. Regular detergent creates too much suds which will affect the machine’s washing and rinsing performance. Over time, it can lead to odors and mechanical problems.
- Fill it up. Clothes washers use about the same amount of energy, regardless of the size of the load, so run full loads whenever possible.
- Wash in cold water. The hot water used to operate a clothes washer consumes about 90% of the total energy required by the machine. Unless you’re dealing with oily stains, washing in cold water will generally do a good job of cleaning. Switching your temperature setting from hot to warm can cut energy use in half. Using the cold cycle reduces energy use even more.
- Spinning speed matters. If your clothes washer has spin options, choose a high spin speed or the extended spin option to reduce the amount of moisture remaining in your clothes after washing. This decreases the amount of time it takes to dry your clothes.
- Use your sensors. ENERGY STAR-certified dryers incorporate advanced moisture sensors to help reduce energy use. This feature ensures that your dryer will automatically shut off when clothes are dry and is preferable to timed drying.
- Lower the heat. Longer drying cycles on a low heat setting use less energy.
- Add a dry towel. A dry, fluffy towel added to your dryer load can significantly reduce drying times, but you must take out the towel after 15-20 minutes. Otherwise, the towel will still contribute to the moisture in the dryer and even extend the drying time.
- Clean the lint filter. Cleaning the filter after every load will improve air circulation and increase the efficiency of the dryer. It’s also an important safety measure.
- If you use dryer sheets, scrub the lint filter regularly, dryer sheets can leave a film on the filter that reduces air flow and, over time, can affect the performance of the motor.
- Give it a rest. Use a drying rack or hang clothes outside, whenever possible. Air-drying clothes instead of using a dryer not only saves energy, but also helps them last longer.
- Size matters. Choose the right size clothes dryer for your household needs. The drum needs to be large enough to allow a full load from the washer to tumble freely, with enough space left over for hot air to circulate.
- Drying too large of a load will cause it to take longer to dry.
- Too small of a load can cause problems, too. Drying a single towel for 30 minutes will cost about as much as drying a full load for the same time. Smaller loads can actually take longer to dry without the benefit of the tumbling effect of a full load.
- It is a bit easier if you buy matching washer and dryer as manufacturers normally design these pairs to work together with the same sized load.
- Use less and save more. LEDs use less energy to provide the same illumination and, because they use less energy, you will save money on your electricity bill.
- Lumens, not Watts. When shopping, look at lumens, not watts. Incandescent light bulbs are usually labelled and sold according to their wattage (power consumption), but how much light the bulb produces (its brightness), is measured in lumens. Because LED bulbs are more efficient, they produce the same lumens using much less watts.
- Time and motion. Since they are left on for long periods, exterior lights are high energy users. Add motion sensors or dusk-to-dawn timers so they only work when needed.
- Turn it off. Turn off the lights when they’re not in use. Lighting accounts for about 12% of a typical residential utility bill. Look for ways to use controls such as motion sensors, dimmers, or timers, to reduce lighting use.
- Bright design. Make the most of natural light with ‘bright’ decorating choices. Strategically place mirrors and put workspaces near windows so that you don’t need to keep the lights on all day.
- Use task lighting. Turn off ceiling lights and use table lamps, track lighting and under-counter lights in work and hobby areas as well as in kitchens, as these usually are lower wattage.
- Drip drip. Repair water leaks immediately. If your plumbing is connected to an electric water pump, leaks in your pipes, taps, toilet, etc., will cause your water pump to run more than normal, using more electricity.
- More Iron. Iron in bulk. It takes more power to heat a clothes iron than to sustain the heat, so rather than turning the iron on for your daily outfit, iron as much as you can in one sitting.
Sort clothes by fabric types and start ironing the pile that requires the lowest temperature (synthetics), proceeding gradually until you get to the hardest ironing fabrics (linens). This will not only save you time and effort but will also help in reducing electrical energy consumption.
- Clean your sole. Your iron’s maintenance is one crucial step, after all, the last thing you need are dirty stains on your clothes. Make sure to efficiently clean your iron after each use, this step will make sure the iron runs at its best.
- Turn it off. Turn water off when shaving, washing hands or brushing teeth to save on hot water and water pump energy costs. Alternatively, do not use hot water in these routines.
- Dehumidifiers – A standard dehumidifier running constantly uses more energy than a refrigerator, clothes washer, and dishwasher combined. An ENERGY STAR certified dehumidifier removes the same amount of moisture as a similarly sized standard unit but uses 15% less energy because it has more efficient refrigeration coils, compressors, and fans.
- Follow instructions. Set your refrigerator temperature to the manufacturer’s recommendation to avoid excessive cooling and wasting energy. Most recommend setting your refrigerator to between 2-4 degrees Celsius and your freezer at 0 degrees Celsius.
- Find a cool spot. Position your refrigerator away from a heat source such as an oven, dishwasher, or direct sunlight from a window.
- Leave some space. Leave a few inches between the wall and the refrigerator to allow air circulation. If you have an older model keep the condenser coils clean. (Find cleaning tips in your owner’s manual).
- Check the door seals. Make sure the refrigerator and freezer seals around the doors are airtight. If not, replace them.
- Keep the door closed. If possible, decide what you want prior to opening the doors of your refrigerator or freezer. This allows you to limit the amount of times you open it on a daily basis, which will conserve energy.
- Again, size matters. Purchase an appropriately sized refrigerator and freezer for your needs. Generally, the larger the appliance, the greater the energy consumption. The most energy-efficient models are typically 16-20 cubic feet.
- Fill up… just enough. Refrigerators and freezers operate most efficiently when full, so keep your refrigerator and freezer as full as possible (using filled water bottles if nothing else). But, be sure to keep some space for airflow, as overfilling your appliance cause the appliance to work harder.
- Stand alone. Consider buying a single door refrigerator or one with a top-mounted or bottom-mounted freezer, instead of a side-by-side, they are usually more energy efficient. A single door refrigerator uses between 30-40% less energy than a double door refrigerator. A top-freezer refrigerator that has earned the ENERGY STAR rating uses less energy than a 60-watt light bulb.
- Out with the old. Refrigerators over 15 years old could be costing you more than $500. per year to run so consider replacing your old unit. On average, an old refrigerator uses about 33% more energy than a model that has earned the ENERGY STAR. Resist the temptation to keep your old refrigerator. That second fridge may seem convenient, but it will only negate your energy savings from the new fridge.
- Consider a manual defrost model. These use half the energy of automatic defrost models but must be defrosted periodically to achieve the energy savings. Don’t allow frost to build up more than one-quarter of an inch.
- Consider an upgrade. The life expectancy of hot water heaters is between 8 to 10 years. The older your water heater, the more likely you are using more energy. Consider replacing your old water heater.
- Size matters here too. Before purchasing a new water heater, determine the best size to fit your space and average usage, and compare among heater types. (tank/tank less/ solar).
Turn down the temperature. The factory setting on most water heaters is set to 60 degrees Celsius — too hot for human skin. When installing, have your plumber turn yours down to 49 degrees Celsius— it’s plenty hot and you’ll never again accidentally scald yourself.
- Go small or turn it off. If your household hot water consumption is low:
- Consider switching to a tank less water heater, which is more efficient and uses less energy than tank-type water heaters.
- If you own a tank water heater of a suitable size for your consumption, consider turning it off for a day. The stored hot water can remain hot for a while, periodical stopping from continuously consuming energy.
- Shorten your shower. A hot five-minute shower, which uses 10-25 gallons of water, is more energy efficient than a hot bath (in a tub), which uses up to 70 gallons of water.
- If you have a water heater, cut the energy used by:
- taking shorter, cooler showers. A typical shower uses 2.5 gallons of hot water a minute, so cutting your daily shower by four minutes will save you money. Use the T&TEC energy calculator to estimate how much your water heater uses per billing period (2 months). Sign up here
- purchasing a low-flow, water-saving shower head to save water and energy.
- refraining from ‘warming up’ the shower by leaving the water to run prior to using.
- Consider investing in a solar water heater. Depending on your hot water use, you can save up to an estimated TT$850. annually. You are also entitled to a 25% tax break with the purchase of a solar water heater. Learn more here.