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Often called the "Fifth Fuel," energy efficiency is important part of Indiana's energy future. Without increased energy efficiency and other remedies, Indiana may need to add as many as 16 new power plants to keep up with increasing energy demand (State Utilities Forcasting Group, Purdue University). Higher energy efficiency makes sense not only from an environmental perspective, but from an economic perspective as well.
While Indiana has enjoyed traditionally lower energy costs, those lower costs cannot be sustained even through the near future. It is amazing how much we can save when we employ a variety of energy efficiency strategies both in the home and in the workplace.
These tips range from free, one-time equipment adjustments to simple, long-term investments for your home and vehicle.
Proper tire inflation and selecting the correct grade of motor oil for your vehicle can increase fuel efficiency by about 5%, and tuning your engine after a failed emissions test can improve fuel efficiency by about 4%. As you increase your vehicle's fuel efficiency, you increase its miles per gallon (mpg) and lower your transportation costs. Learn more about maintaining your vehicle from the U.S. Department of Energy.
It can pay to drive the speed limit! Each 5 mph over 50 mph is like paying an extra $0.23/gallon. Gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 50 mph, but you can also minimize efficiency losses by using cruise control to prevent sudden accelerations. You can learn more efficient driving tips from the U.S. Department of Energy.
Replace Old Refrigerators and Freezers...and get paid for it!
As you clear out holiday leftovers, consider replacing your fridge if it is ten or more years old. Old units can use twice as much energy as a new ENERGY STAR® labeled model, and most utilities will pay you about $30 for your old fridge if its size is between 10 to 30 cubic feet! Utilities with these programs will pick up your old fridge or freezer and recycle it for free. Enter your zipcode into this website to schedule your free fridge/freezer pick up, or visit your utility's website to see if it has this program.
Insulate your Water Heater
Your water heater needs a blanket too! Water heating accounts for about 15% of home energy costs, but wrapping your water heater can save those water heating costs by 10%. Insulating blankets cost between $15 and $30 and should have a payback period of one year. You can learn more from the National Association of Realtors!
Water Heater Temperature
Set your current water heater to 120 degrees F. Switching from 140 degrees F reduces water heating costs by 10% and prevents the chance of kids scalding their skin. Is your heater already set to 120 degrees? Consider purchasing a more efficient one! Learn more about selecting a new water heater.
Compact Flourescent Lights (CFLs) and LED Lights
CFLs use 2/3 less energy than traditional lights and last up to ten times longer. They are currently cheaper than LEDs, which use almost 90% less energy than traditional lights and break less easily. LED prices are going down as the technology improves, and both LEDs and CFLs are great ways to save electricity!
Energy Star Tax Credits
Don't forget to claim your Energy Star tax credits for 30% of the item cost! This credit applies to geothermal heat pumps, small wind, and solar energy systems. This credit is available until December 31, 1016. You can learn more at the Energy Star website.
Check out your utility's 2012 rebates for energy efficient appliances. Rebates can range from $30 to $400, and appliances may include AC, heat pumps, or water heaters. You can go to your utility's website or use this database of Indiana energy incentives.
Home Temperature and Comfort
Seal Air Leaks
Air leaks can waste a lot of your energy dollars, and sealing those leaks is an effective, low-cost way to save energy. You can seal leaks by caulking, sealing, and weather stripping all cracks and openings to the outside of your home, and you can find air sealing tips here. In Indiana, income qualified home owners can receive a free assessment and basic supplies from Energizing Indiana. Income qualified home owners can also apply to Indiana's Home Energy Conservation (HEC) program for weatherization services. Hoosiers interested in the HEC should contact their local Community Action Agency.
Insulate your Home
Insulation lowers enery use and improves home comfort. Bottom line - the higher the R value, the more effective it is. Click here and scroll down to the map to find the best R value for your area of Indiana.
Set your thermostat to 68 degrees F when you're awake and to 55 degree when you sleep or leave the house. You may want to consider a programmable thermostat as a holiday gift: programmable thermostats let people choose their temperature settings once and will remember to make the changes for them throughout the year.
Learn more about Residential energy efficiency
Learn more about Commercial/Industrial energy efficiency
Energy Star Portfolio Manager can help you track and manage your building's energy costs.
Learn more about these energy reduction goals from the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commision (IURC). Utilities will work with Energizing Indiana to achieve these savings through five "demand-side management" programs:
Learn more about these programs from Energizing Indiana.