Online energy tools
With our online energy assessment suite of online energy tools, you can pinpoint ways to save energy in your home by using actual billing data from your energy bills. To use our online energy tools, you must log in to your CenterPoint Energy.com account. Don't have a account? Create yours for free today.
These free resources include:
An online energy assessment which allows you to see a customized report of how your home uses energy
Customized tips, based on your home size, usage and previous upgrades
A comparison tool that shows how your usage stacks up to similar homes
Energy efficiency tips
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- Tips for cold weather
Maintain your furnace and check your filter
Have your furnace maintained annually by a qualified technician and check your air filter monthly. Having a professional inspection of your heating system on a regular basis will help lower your heating bills 3 to 10% as well as maximize the life of your furnace.
Consider upgrading your furnace
Consider upgrading to a high-efficiency furnace if your unit is more than 15 years old. Replacing your old heating equipment with high-efficiency equipment can cut your annual energy bill by nearly $200. See heating & cooling equipment rebates
Let the sun in
Open blinds, shades and drapes to let in the sun's heat during the day. Remember to close them at night.
Make sure vents are not blocked by furniture or drapes to ensure proper air flow.
Reverse the direction of your ceiling fan
By changing the direction to clockwise in the winter, the fan will circulate the warm air. If the room is unoccupied, always turn off the ceiling fan to save energy.
Turn down the thermostat
An optimal setting for improved energy efficiency is at or below 68 degrees. For every degree you turn down the temperature, you could save 1 to 3% on your heating bill.
Consider a "smart" or programmable thermostat
You can save about $180 a year by properly setting your programmable thermostats and maintaining those settings. Find thermostat rebates
Seal air leaks by caulking and weather stripping
Close the fireplace damper
Close the fireplace damper when not in use. An open damper will allow the warm air to escape.
- Tips for warm weather
Keep in mind - nearly half of your energy bill in the summer goes toward cooling your home. Therefore, maintaining your air conditioner and keeping the sun's heat out of your house are the two most important ways to save.
Turn up the thermostat
An optimal setting for improved energy efficiency during warm weather is at or above 78 degrees. For every degree you turn up the temperature, you could save 2% to 3% on your cooling bill.
Maintain your AC
Have your air conditioner maintained annually by a qualified technician and check your air filter monthly.
Consider upgrading your AC
Consider upgrading to an ENERGY STAR® air conditioner. If the central air conditioning unit is more than 12 years old, replacing it with an ENERGY STAR® qualified model could cut cooling costs by 30%.
Close blinds, shades and drapes to reflect the sun's heat. Remember that white window coverings reflect sunlight, and dark coverings will absorb the heat.
Set fans to counter-clockwise
Reverse the direction of your ceiling fan. By changing the direction to counter-clockwise in the summer, the fan will circulate the cool air.
Turn off unused fans
Turn off the ceiling fan when not in the room. Ceiling fans cool people - not rooms. If the room is unoccupied, turn off the ceiling fan to save energy.
Minimize appliance use
Minimize the use of ovens, stoves, dryers and other major appliances on very hot days. Their usage could require the air conditioner to run longer.
Close the fireplace damper
An open damper will allow the conditioned air to escape.
- Water heating
Improving your water heater efficiency can translate into big savings on your utility bill. It is estimated that up to 25% of the energy consumed in your home is spent on heating water. With the average life expectancy of a water heater being 13 years, doing what you can to maximize your appliance's efficiency could significantly benefit your pocketbook.
Use low-flow shower heads
Based on one 10-minute shower per day, a low-flow or water-saving shower head can save you up to 10,000 gallons of water a year and reduce your energy cost of heating the water also by as much as 50%.
Drain your water heater regularly
Doing so will flush out minerals which accumulate at the bottom of the unit, causing inefficiencies.
Consider an upgrade
A new ENERGY STAR® qualified water heater can save you 7%-10% if your unit is more than 10 years old.
Install a timer
If you have an electric water heater, install a timer that turns it off at night when you don't use hot water. Doing so can save you 5%-12% of energy.
Insulate your water pipes
This slows down the loss of heat through the pipes.
- Home appliances
Replacing a dishwasher manufactured before 1994 with an ENERGY STAR® qualified dishwasher can save you more than $30 per year in energy costs.
Run the dishwasher only when it's full
Run the dishwasher only when it's full to save up to 400 gallons of water per month.
Use the air-dry setting
This can cut your dishwasher's energy use by 15%-50%.
Check for an internal heater
Check to see if your dishwasher has an internal heater (which heats incoming water to 140 degrees or higher). If it does, you can lower your home's water heater temperature to 120 degrees.
Avoid using the rinse-and-hold cycle
Depending on the age of your dishwasher, just rinsing the dishes could use several gallons of water.
Clean the spray-arm nozzles and water jets
Hard water deposits can be removed with an old toothbrush, reducing the powerful flow of water necessary to clean the dishes.
Use short cycles for everything but the dirtiest of dishes
Short cycles use less energy and work just as well.
Don't assume that washing dishes by hand saves money
If it's fully loaded, your dishwasher may be a better bet. Hand washing dishes uses significantly more water because most people tend to leave the faucet running during the process, using about 35% more water than an automatic dishwasher.
Keep cold air in
Open the fridge door as infrequently as possible.
Keep it full
An empty fridge cycles frequently without any mass to hold the cold. If your fridge isn't normally full, fill it with plain water in old milk jugs.
Clean the coils
Move your fridge out from the wall and vacuum its condenser coils at least once per year. Note: On some models, the coils are under the unit.
Unplug the extra fridge in the garage
The electricity the fridge is using - as much as $200 per year or more - is probably costing you a lot more than the non-essential items you may be storing there.
Look for efficiency when upgrading
Look for the ENERGY STAR® label - you will be assured of purchasing a refrigerator that meets the highest of efficiency standards. Fridges made before 1993 use more than twice the energy of a new ENERGY STAR® qualified model.
Check the temperature
A fridge that is 10 degrees colder than necessary can use 25% more energy. Keep the temperature between 35 and 38 degrees.
Allow hot foods to cool
Allow hot foods to cool before refrigerating or freezing.
Check your door seals
To find out if your seals are airtight, close the door on a piece of paper and try to pull it out. If the paper slides out easily, cold air is escaping and increasing your electric bill.
Ovens, Ranges and Cookers
Purchase energy-saving equipment
If you need to purchase a natural gas oven or range, look for one with an automatic, electric ignition system. An electric ignition saves natural gas because a pilot light is not burning continuously.
In natural gas appliances, look for blue flames
Yellow flames indicate the gas is burning inefficiently and an adjustment may be needed. Consult your manufacturer or HVAC contractor.
Keep range-top burners and reflectors clean.
They will reflect the heat better, and you will save energy.
Use smaller alternatives for small meals
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.
Shorten cook times
When operating an electric oven, attempt to cook as much of the meal in it at one time as possible. Foods with different cooking temperatures can often be cooked simultaneously at one temperature-variation of 25 degrees in either direction still produce good results and save energy.
Preheat for five to eight minutes
When preheating an oven for baking, five to eight minutes should be sufficient. There is no need to preheat for broiling or roasting.
Wash in cold water
Water heating consumes about 90% of the energy it takes to operate a clothes washer. Switching your temperature setting from hot to warm can cut energy use in half. Using the cold cycle reduces energy use even more.
Don't overload your machine
Overloading will consume more energy as the motor strains to move the excess clothing. Adjust the water level for your load size.
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.
Place near the water heater
Position the washing machine near the hot water tank if possible. Heat can be lost as the hot water travels between the tank and the washer.
Consider an upgrade
If your washer is over 10 years old, replacing it with a new ENERGY STAR® qualified washer could save over $145 each year on your energy bills. Plus, you're wasting 18 gallons of water every time you wash with a non-ENERGY STAR® qualified clothes washer.
Activate the high spin speed option
If your clothes washer has spin options, choose a high spin speed or the extended spin option to reduce the amount of remaining moisture in your clothes after washing. This decreases the amount of time it takes to dry your clothes.
Balance your loads before starting the cycle
A washer that consistently gets out of balance often wastes water and energy.
Leave the door open after use
Front-loading washers use airtight seals to prevent water from leaking while the machine is in use. When the machine is not in use, this seal can trap moisture in the machine and lead to mold. Leave the door ajar for an hour or two after use to allow moisture to evaporate.
Avoid the sanitary cycle
This super-hot cycle, available on some models, increases energy use significantly. Only use it when absolutely necessary.
Use the auto-dry feature
If your dryer has a setting for auto-dry, be sure to use it. You'll avoid wasting energy and over-drying, which can cause clothing shrinkage, generate static electricity and shorten the life of your clothes.
Clean the lint filter
Clean the lint filter after every load to improve air circulation and avoid a potential fire hazard.
Use the cool-down cycle
Use the cool-down cycle to allow your clothing to finish drying with the residual heat in the dryer.
Check your dryer vent
Inspect and clean your dryer vent regularly to ensure it is not blocked. This will save energy and prevent a fire.
Wait until the cycle has finished
Make sure your washing machine has completed its cycle before you move the clothes into the dryer. Removing clothes that have not been spun completely may overload the dryer and cause it to malfunction.
Don't overload your dryer
Placing too many clothes in the dryer can double or triple drying time.
Consider air-drying clothes on clothes lines or drying racks.
Use CFL or LED bulbs
Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs) and Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) use 75% less energy than the typical incandescent light bulbs used in homes. By switching to a CFL or LED, not only will the CFL bulbs last 10 times longer but they will also offer you a potential savings of $100 per year on your energy bill.
Turn off lights in any room not being used, even if your absence will only be momentary. For the outdoors, turn on lights only when needed.
Plan your lighting
Not every room needs the same amount of general light. Plan within a room to provide general background lighting and supplementary task lighting. A good lighting plan can reduce lighting costs and still provide all the light you need.
When choosing a new lamp, buy three-way lamps
They make it easy to keep lighting levels low when intense light is not necessary, and that saves electricity. Use the high switch only for reading or other activities that require brighter light.
Make good use of natural light
Use natural lighting in cold weather to let in warm sunlight and keep curtains closed during the summer to keep the house cool. Open curtains and shades during the day instead of using lighting. Consider skylights and solar tubes during remodeling or new construction design.
During the holidays, choose LED lighting
Set your lights on timers so that they are turned off in the daytime.
Control outdoor lighting
To assure only dusk-to-dawn operation of your outdoor lights, control your fixtures with a photocell or a timer.
Keep bulbs and fixtures clean
Dirt and dust reduce light output and efficiency. For safety reasons, don't clean bulbs and fixtures when they're hot or plugged in.
Turn off decorative outdoor natural gas lamps
Eight such lamps burning year-round use as much natural gas as it takes to heat an average-size home during an entire winter.
Use compact fluorescent torchiers
If you have touchier fixtures with halogen lamps, consider replacing them with compact fluorescent torchiers. Compact fluorescent torchiers use 60%-80% less energy, can produce more light and do not get as hot as the halogen torchiers. Halogen torchieres are a fire risk because of the high temperature of the halogen bulb.
The home has more than 20 phantom loads that can add up to $200 to your electricity bill each year. Phantom load is the amount of electricity that's being drained by equipment when it's off or in standby mode. These devices have a hidden energy cost of which most people are never aware. Nationally, phantom loads make up about 6% of our energy consumption. Any device with a clock display, a remote control or instant on capability may be consuming power constantly.
Unplug electronic devices such as cell phones and mp3 players when they are fully charged
The transformers used to charge electronic devices are 60%-80% inefficient when plugged in, so it is especially important they are unplugged when not in use.
Use power strips
To save time, put these devices on a power strip that can easily be switched off. Place your computer on a power strip with surge protection, and switch the power strip off when not in use for an extended period of time, such as when you go to bed.
Look for energy efficient options
Buy ENERGY STAR® appliances to reduce your phantom load for devices that would be impractical to turn off. The amount of standby power can sometimes be found with the product specifications in the owner's manual. Be sure to consider if unplugging an appliance could erase personal settings or other data that has been programmed.