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Aug 5, 2012

From washing machines and dryers to heating and cooling equipment, the basement is one area where you can make significant changes to save energy and increase your contribution to protecting the environment.

  • Recycle your old refrigerator instead of giving it away; older models could cost more than $100 a year to run!
  • When considering an extra fridge or freezer, look for new energy efficient models.
  • Keep your fridge/freezer as full as possible and unplug it when not in use.

Find out how much your old refrigerator is costing you.

Pledge to recycle your old refrigerator.


Water Heater

  • Switch to an ENERGY STAR certified water heater or a tankless water heater, which only heats water as needed.
  • Tank less water heaters save the typical family more than $80 a year on gas bills, while larger families can save even more.
  • Learn more:
    • An ENERGY STAR certified gas storage water heater can generate a saving of $290 over the course of its 13-year lifetime and larger families can save even more.
    • Lowering your water heater temperature results in reduced standby losses (heat lost from the heater into surrounding area) and reduced consumption (from water demand or use in your home).
    • When set too high (140 degrees F), a water heater can waste anywhere from $36-$61 annually in standby heat loss and more than $400 in demand loss.
    • The ideal water heater temperature is 120 degrees F.
    • Save more than $30 annually in excess heat loss from older units by wrapping them in insulation jackets.
    • For additional savings, insulate hot water piping to prevent water from cooling before it gets to the tap.
    • Switch off electric and turn down gas water heaters before going on vacation.


  • Seal gaps around vents, ducts, pipes and electrical wiring, to prevent drafts and increased energy costs.
  • Use caulk for small gaps and spray foam for gaps up to 3 inches in diameter.
  • Check the attic, any crawlspaces and unfinished basements.
  • Use a combination of foam board and foam spray for gaps larger than 3 inches in diameter.
  • Reduce drafts and save energy by sealing holes around pipes, wiring, vents or recessed lights with spray foam or caulk.
    • A home’s exterior is known as the “envelope” or “shell” which, when properly insulated by a knowledgeable homeowner or skilled contractor, can save you up to 10% (more than $200) on annual energy bills.
    • Proper insulation will help your heating and cooling system run more efficiently, and make your home more comfortable.

Pledge to insulate and seal your home’s envelope.

HVAC System

  • Dirt and neglect are the top causes of heating and cooling system inefficiency and failure.
  • Change your system’s air filter regularly and have routine maintenance performed by a qualified technician.
  • Consider replacing non-performing older HVAC systems with newer ENERGY STAR certified ones.
  • When replacing equipment, be sure to ask your contractor if they follow ENERGY STAR Quality Installation Guidelines.
  • Depending on your location, replacing outdated heating and cooling systems with ENERGY STAR certified models could reduce your annual energy bill by more than $200.
  • Learn more:
    • Your HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning) system can use up to half of the total energy consumed in your home, so make the smart choice when considering your options.

Pledge to change the air filter on your central cooling system.

Rim Joist

  • The rim joist (or band joist) is located at the top of the basement wall, where cement meets the wood frame.
  • Significant air leakage can take place through the rim joist.
  • Seal accessible perimeter areas with expanding foam or caulk.
  • Seal any penetrations (i.e., pipes, wiring), which go through the basement ceiling to the above floor.
  • Learn more:
    • A home’s exterior is known as the “envelope” or “shell” which, when properly insulated, can save up to 10% on annual energy bills.
    • Proper insulation makes your home more comfortable and helps your heating and cooling system run more efficiently.
    • Or hire a contractor who’ll use specialized diagnostic tools to identify and seal hidden air leaks before adding insulation.

Pledge to seal your home’s envelope with caulk or spray foam.

Clothes Dryer

  • Use your dryer’s moisture sensor to automatically turn it off when clothes are dry to avoid over drying.
  • Always clean the lint trap before every load.
  • Dry full loads or reduce drying time for partial ones.
  • Learn more:
    • If your dryer doesn’t have an energy-saving moisture sensor, try to match the cycle length to the size and weight of the load.
    • Running a dryer for an extra 15 minutes can cost you up to $34 every year.
    • Dry similar fabrics together in one load, so that all the clothes are dry at the end of the cycle.
    • Simply cleaning the lint trap before every load can save you up to $34 annually.
    • Dryers circulate heated air through wet clothes, evaporating and venting water vapor outside. If they are unable to generate enough heat, or can’t efficiently move air through clothing, clothes will take longer to dry or won’t dry at all.

Clothes Washer

  • Do your laundry with cold water whenever possible.
  • Wash full loads to save water, or when doing partial ones, reduce the level of water accordingly.
  • Learn more:
    • Heating hot water accounts for 90% of the energy used by your machine (only 10% is used by the motor).
    • Switching to cold water laundry can save the average household more than $40 annually (electric water heater) or $30 annually (gas water heater).
    • Washing full loads can save you more than 3,400 gallons of water every year.
    • If replacing a clothes washer, look for ENERGY STAR certified models that reduce energy use by 30%, water consumption by over 50% and have an improved spin cycle to reduce drying times.

Pledge to purchase an ENERGY STAR certified clothes washer.


  • Basements commonly have an excess of moisture or humidity in the air, which can be removed using a dehumidifier.
  • Ideally, you should have a humidity level between 30%-50% for a comfortable and healthy environment; anything more or less could lead to problems.
  • Learn more:
    • Signs that you might need a dehumidifier:
      • Musty smells
      • Mold or mildew problems
      • Rotting wood
      • Condensation on windows
      • Increased allergies (too much humidity leads to common allergens like mildew, mites and mold)
  • Ensure your dryer isn’t venting inside your basement.
  • Check that ground next to the building foundation slopes away from the house.
  • Make sure downspouts lead at least 3 feet away from the building foundation.
  • When considering a dehumidifier, look for ENERGY STAR certified models that use less energy and can save you more than $220 in energy costs over the life of the unit.

Learn more about what to look for when buying a dehumidifier.