10 easy energy saving steps

I know a lot of these are common-sense and can be found all over the web.  Some of them may not be as obvious though (the bricks in the oven and dry towel in the dryer make a huge difference!)

  1. Put a clean dry towel into every dryer load.  Clothes WILL dry faster (about 20% faster in my experience).
  2. You know those two racks you have in your oven?  If you are only cooking on the top rack put a few regular old bricks on the bottom rack – they will absorb and hold the heat, and it will take less power to maintain the set temperature if you are cooking something that takes longer than 30 minutes.
  3. If you have a room (my kid’s bathroom!) that always seems to have the light left on, buy a $30 automatic light switch – it detects heat (and/or motion) in the room and will shut the lights off when people aren’t in the room.
  4. Freeze some ice packs and keep them in the space space in your freezer.  They make it easier for the freezer to maintain it’s temperature (and come in handy to throw into a cooler when going on a trip).  They are also very useful if you lose power for a long amount of time – they can help save your food from spoiling.  BONUS – if you keep them clean, then the water is drinkable in case of something major (like the hurricanes I dealt with!).
  5. If you have ceiling fans, don’t turn them off just because you move to a different room.  It’s cheaper to leave them run and reduce the amount of work your central heat and air has to do.
  6. CLEAN YOUR AIR FILTERS – including the lint trap on your dryer and the fans on your PC/laptop, your A/C and heating vents, the vent above your stove, etc.
  7. Set your PC up to conserve power.
  8. If you tend to fall asleep watching TV, use the SLEEP button on your TV remote.
  9. Use a programmable thermostat.
  10.  The next time you replace your water heater, replace it with a tank-less system.


  1. Hah – it is SO easy to egg you on… easier even then getting my very well-behaved dog to “sit”.


  2. Rob,

    1. If I had the math to prove you wrong, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. My comment in a nutshell is “This doesn’t make sense to me. How does this work? Help me fill the void in my knowledge, as this seems to go against what I know of physics”.

    2. “you know ‘simple facts’ won’t change my mind, right?”.
    I DO know people who won’t let facts (whether simple or not is irrelevant) and rational thought interfere with their views, but no, I didn’t know you belonged to that group.

    3. You can also cut down on your dryer cost by no longer using it to dry pais of dice, aces abd cuflinks (cuflinks? YOU?)

    4. SOME quotes don’t mean jack, others (like Feynman’s) are ignored at ones own peril.

    5. And better don’t bring faith into the equation .. or else …

  3. @Paul: “We could say the first rule of science is that God created everything, and created an orderly universe and then use science to figure out how God made it all work. And the more we learn, the more we can marvel at His ingenuity, His greatness, etc.”

    I quote this just to let you know – quotes don’t mean jack 😉


    Heh – your favorite reference material…

  4. @Paul! Hah! You were up early today, and up all day, from what I can see 😉

    But you did argue that your math proves me wrong. Younf know “simple facts” won’t change my mind, right?

    Prove God exists (or doesn’t).

    Prove my towel in the dryer works, or not (it does, really it does!).

    But then, I honestly think my dryer eats one of every pair of any thing I put into it (socks, dice, Aces and even cufflinks)!


  5. “The first rule of science is not to fool yourself, and YOU are the easiest person to fool.”

    — Richard Feynman. (on scientific thought and experimentation)

  6. Rob, I NEVER claimed you were wrong! You’re twisting my words!
    I said I was SKEPTICAL!
    And I asked for proof. Had I accused you of being wrong, I wouldn’t have asked for proof: I would have given it to you!
    I’m ALSO skeptical of the scientific validiy of your empirical evidence. Actually measuring these differences takes considerable planning and execution. I would not be surprised if you base your empirical evidence simply on ‘gut feeling’.
    Your saying you have seen it means nothing. You might as well claim you have ‘seen’ cold fusion in action 😉

    And if you see me online before 10am on a Saturday morning .. then you have caught me on my way to bed!

  7. @Paul – Oh – Iforgot to mention – you woke up FAR too early for a Saturday morning – that’s you problem. Online before 10am? Unheard of!


  8. Uh no – you claimed I am wrong. I have emprical evidence that I am right. You have “theories” and “ideas”.

    You need to prove me wrong on this one – and if you do, I’ll then share with you some of the capabilities of my washer and dryer 😉

  9. .. can you tell I’m bored .. and have nothing better to do? 😉

  10. @Rob, no, math can’t defeat reality: it REFLECTS and DESCRIBES reality. So do laws of nature.

    Take this 20% saving dry towel for instance (using a clean one only has practical use, but has nothing to do with saving energy).
    Since you claim these tips are based on common sense:
    Can you explain to me which (physics) principle leads to the 20% reduction in required energy?
    Sure, in theory, if you wrap a dry towel around a soaking wet object, it will absorb some of the ‘wetness’ of that object, thereby extending the evapuration surface-area, which will facilitate an overall shorter drying time.


    a: by what percentage will you increase the total surface area of all cloths in a optimally full load of laundry? (of course, we’re tryigh to save energy, so you always use optimnally full loads, right?). Even IF it would be as ridiculous high as 20%, that still would not amount to a 20% shorter dry time.

    b. dry towels are indeed fairly good at absorbing liquids (like water). Used merely as a dehumidifier however, they are really not that effective, especially not in the relatively short period of a dryer’s dry cycle. And since your laundry has gone through a rather violent spin cycle in your washer before you put it in your dryer, there’s little ‘liquid’ left for the towel the absorb. Next to nothing, actually (most of the liquid in that load has already been absorbed by your cloths). Next time you put that towel in there, don’t start the dryer, let it sit there for an hour, and check how ‘wet’ that towel now is!

    c. just like the freezer and the oven. The more stuff you put in it, the more energy is expanded to keep it cool or to heat it up. The dryer in your case is using MORE energy to heat up that extra towel. (And theoretically, you make the load heavier, so that takes more energy as well).

    Where’s the ‘common sense’ in tips 1,2,4 and 5?
    I’d rather argue for these tips to be based on ‘common misconceptions’ (With ‘common’ referring to your Google remark).

    As for me trying it? Err.. it’s YOUR claim! (that 20%), so the burden of proof is on you. Not me.
    Until you provide me with that proof, I will refrain from baking bricks and ‘drying’ otherwise perfectly dry towels 😉

  11. @Paul – Math can’t defeat reality – try #1, 2 and 4 yourself. As for #5 – I stated no assumption that fans cooled the air. But Google energy savings and ceiling fans and you’ll see many recomendations that say the increased airflow lessens demands on central heat and A/C.

  12. I’m very skeptical about some of these tips.

    Tip #1: IF adding a dry towel to your dryer helps any, I would expect the saving to be FAR less than the normal variance in dry-time between different loads (i.e. it would be unmeasurable). However, I think it’s much more likely that it will actually COST you more, for the reason mentioned at #2. As for the claimed 20%, I’m afraid that this time, even dividing by 2 doesn’t get us anywhere near the real value ;-). In any case, if you live in central Texas, and want to cut down on dryer cost: use a clothline! It’s cheap, your cloths get cleaner (sun’s UV rays bleach effect), it drastically reduces ‘wear and tear’ and your cloths will smell better.

    Tip #2: Very simply put: If you put ‘stuff’ in an over, then there is a certain amount of energy required to heat the ‘stuff’ to a certain temperature. If you put more ‘stuff’ in it, more energy is needed to raise the combined ‘stuff’ to that same certain temperature.
    True, if the added stuff was perfectly reflecting and wouldn’t absorb any heat, THEN it would help, because it would reduce the volume of the heater (less air to heat), but such a substance is hard to come by (understatement!). Instead, you advise to use something that absorbs heat well. This makes things even worse: the better it absorbs heat, the more energy it will suck up. The fact that it retains heat well, doesn’t do you any good. It only means your oven will stay warm longer after you’ve taken out your food. Waste of energy. It WOULD help a bit in keeping your food warm if you need to keep it in the oven, but in that case it would have been smarter to start cooking later!

    Tip 4: Same principle there! While some of the benefits may in principle be true (it keeps the thing cool longer when you lose power), it definitely does NOT help a working freezer to maintain its temperature! Same simple principle: the more you put in there, the more energy will be expanded on keeping that extra stuff cold. (Of course, it also ‘costs’ to keep AIR cool, but I’m talking about the mistaken idea that cold ‘extra’ stuff in your freezer would, in some way, HELP in keeping the temperature down, regardless of what that ‘stuff’ is).

    Tip 5: This is based on the incorrect assumption that a ceiling fan cools the air. It doesn’t! All it does is move the air around, which will have the effect that it helps heat-radiating objects (you!!) to dissipate heat quicker. When you remove the heat-radiating object, all the fan does is stirr the air, with no other effect (than wasting energy): By all means, turn it off when you leave.