Environmental lands DepartmentSaving Energy

1. Saving Energy Tips
2. Frequently Asked Questions
3. Combating Climate Change
4. Things You Can Do to Help

Saving Energy Tips

Every Little Bit Helps! You can do your part too!

Reduce Energy Consumption at HOME:

Turn off TVs, computers, monitors, CD players, video games, etc. when not in use. These are all using electricity and not provide any benefit to the user. In fact, it is a negative benefit costing the user money.


  • If is clunking or in need of repair, it is most likely more energy efficient to buy new. Fridges are the third largest part of your electrical bill.
  • Make sure to buy an energy star rated model to maximize your energy savings. A few dollars upfront will save dollars for many years.
  • Vacuum the coils on the back of the fridge and keep the coils a few inches away from the wall for air circulation
  • Keep the fridge away from other heat producing appliances.
  • Cover liquids in the fridge. Uncovered liquids add humidity which makes the fridge work harder.
  • Check the gasket around the fridge and freezer doors and keep them clean.
  • Use a dollar bill to check for leaks. Close the door on the bill and pull in several areas of the door. There should be some resistance. If not the gasket may need to be cleaned, checked for looseness, or tearing. A new gasket may be required.
  • Freezers or fridges work more efficiently when relatively full. Space items evenly in the fridge to allow for proper circulation.
  • Is that second fridge really needed? Remember fridges are only efficient when full and allow for proper air flow.

Water heaters:

  • Water heaters are the second largest part of your electric bill.
  • Wrap your water heater and hot water pipes with insulation.
  • Turn down the water heater thermostat. To decrease the risk of scalding and wasting energy decrease the temp to 120 degrees. Use a thermometer at your sinks and bath to determine the temperature for the water heater setting.
  • Install water saver shower heads. You most likely will not notice any difference but save gallons of water with each shower use.
  • Cutting your shower time by one minute will save enough water to provide water to 5 major cities for 2 months.


  • Use the no heat or air dry settings.
  • Wait till the washer is full of dishes to maximize running the appliance.
  • Dishwashers only need 120 degree water to properly wash your dishes.
  • Anything hotter is a waste and could harm your dishes and appliance.

Clothes washers and dryers:

  • Wash clothing in cold water. You will save money not to heat the water and today there are detergents specially made for cold water washing.
  • Do full loads of laundry for both washing and drying. Reducing the water level still uses just about the same amount of water as a full tub, there is little benefit.
  • Clean the dryer lint filter after every load. Not only does this allow your dryer to dry more efficiently but it reduces the hazard of fire.

Home Heating:

  • Heating our homes is the largest portion of our electric bills. You could save $150-250 dollars a year by turning down the thermostat five degrees during the day and 10 degrees at night. Better yet, install a programmable thermostat to regulate the temperatures for you.
  • Clean or replace your furnace filter every month during heating season to increase air flow.


  • Lighting with Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL) CFL bulbs use 1/3 to ¼ less energy to produce the same amount of light as a regular incandescent bulb. That's a lot less incandescent bulbs in the trash!
  • Using CFLs you will save 50-60% in overall lighting costs. Replacing 3 well used incandescent light bulbs with CFLs will save 300 pounds of carbon dioxide per year and about $60 per year in your electric bill.
  • CFL bulbs last 10 times longer than regular bulbs. A CFL will last 9,000 to 10,000 hours by comparison to a regular incandescent bulb lasts 750 to 1,000 hours. That means a CFL used 4 hours per day will last 4 ½ years!!!

Other Ideas:

  • Use your microwave, toaster oven, crock pot, or other smaller appliance rather than heating up the oven.
  • Close window curtains to keep out the sun. It is amazing how much cooler a home can be with curtains closed during peak sun times.
  • Install storm windows and doors to keep out the Minnesota cold.
  • Close door on infrequently or unused rooms in your home. This will save approximately $50 on heating or cooling costs for a year.
  • Keep lamps, TVs, or other heat producing equipment away from air conditioners or thermostats.
  • Don't leave water running while brushing your teeth or while cleaning up in the kitchen. Turning water off while brushing your teeth will save enough water in one month to provide enough water for the state of Texas.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. You need really hot water to sterilize dishes and clothes.

A. Even the hottest setting on you water heater is not hot enough to hospital sterilize your dishes or clothes. In fact it may cost you a trip to the hospital as really hot water can scald.

Q. Turning down the thermostat doesn't save energy because it takes as much energy as was saved or more to reheat the home.

A. The greater difference between indoor and outdoor temperatures the faster heat escapes from the home. When you turn down the thermostat the indoor temperature is closer to the outdoor temperature so less heat is lost, the furnace runs less, and you save energy.

Q. Turning on a light causes a surge of power so it is better to leave a light on instead of turning it off when you know you will be using it again a short time later.

A. A light bulb that is on for one second uses one seconds worth of electricity. No more, no less. This is true even for all types of fluorescent bulbs. Turn off lights whenever you leave a room and you will save a lot of energy and money.

Q. Can Compact Fluorescent Bulbs (CFLs) be thrown in the trash?

A. It is illegal to place fluorescent bulbs in the trash since they contain small amounts of mercury. You can properly recycle them at your local transfer station. Recycling them keeps mercury out of our environment and allows the mercury, glass, and metal available for recycling for uses in other products.

If a bulb breaks:

  1. Open windows to disperse the vapors
  2. Carefully sweep up the fragments with a disposable item (not your hands or broom)
  3. Wipe the area with a disposable paper towel to clean up remaining powder and residue
  4. Use duct tape or similar to clean up remaining powder and residue.
  5. Put all fragments and cleanup materials in a sealed plastic bag and dispose of it as it was hazardous waste at a hazardous waste site, such as your local transfer station.

For more information on recycling programs and hazardous waste programs in your area call the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency at 800-657-3864 or www.pca.state.mn.us

Q. Does recycling use more energy than manufacturing from virgin materials? Are we defeating the purpose?

A. Recycling saves money and energy. It saves five times more energy than burning it as garbage. After transportation costs are included, recycling saves $117 in electricity per ton. It is definitely not true that it takes more energy to recycle than to use virgin materials. Recycling reduces greenhouse gases by the equivalent of the emissions from 36 million cars per year!!!

Combat Climate Change

Climate change, aka Global Warming, refers to the warming of the planet caused largely by the burning of fossil fuels and other industrial activities. Over the past century, human activities of the industrialized world have caused excessive amounts of green house gases to accumulate in the atmosphere. This causes global temperatures to rise, which affects all natural cycles that have sustained life on Earth. Climate Change has and will continue to cause severe disruption and change in the environment. Extreme weather events, such as increased frequency in storms, floods, droughts, heat, and precipitation are occurring in out of the ordinary places. What does this mean for us? The lifespans of disease carrying insects are projected to expand with warmer conditions, likely causing more cases of West Nile virus and Lyme's Disease in Minnesota. Warmer average temperatures could increase concentration of ground level ozone, known to aggravate respiratory problems, especially in sensitive populations such as asthmatics. According to the EPA, a 3 degree rise in temperature in the Twin Cities could triple the heat related deaths. Lastly, Climate Change could result in loss of wildlife and habitat. This will not only have environmental ramifications but also economic ramifications. In 2001, nearly 3 million people spent over 2.7 billion dollars in environmental tourism in Minnesota and supported over 53,000 jobs.

Things You Can Do to Help

You can save 2,400 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year by recycling ½ of your household waste. Even the smallest scrap of paper can be recycled and don't forget about lids to metal soup cans or metal tops to bottles as they add up.

Change a light - Replacing just one bulb will save 150 pounds of carbon Dioxide (CO2) from entering our air.
CHECK YOUR TIRES - Keep your tires inflated properly can improve gas mileage by more than 3%. Every gallon of gas saved keeps 20 pounds of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) out of the atmosphere.

Use less hot water - Installing a low flow shower head and washing clothes in cold water can save up to 850 pounds of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) a year.

Turn off or unplug electronics when not in use - Even when not in use cell phone chargers and TVs use energy. Computers still use energy while in sleep modes. The energy to keep display clocks lit and memory chips working accounts for 5% of the domestic energy consumption and emits 18,000,000 tons of carbon into the our air every year.

Run dishwashers only when full and use energy saving settings - This will save 100 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year.

Buy recycled paper products and buy less packaging - It takes 70-90% less energy to make recycled paper and prevents the use of energy to cut down and process the forests worldwide. You can save 1,200 pounds of Carbon Dioxide by buying less bulky or over packaged items by 10%.

Buy fresh food instead of frozen - Frozen foods take 10 times more energy to produce.

Plant a tree - Trees need carbon to grow and exchange carbon dioxide for oxygen.

Plant shade trees - Planting a tree strategically around your home can reduce your annual heating and cooling costs on average by 40%.

Recycle printer ink cartridges - Post Offices and stores that sell ink cartridges have programs to recycle cartridges or have special free postage envelopes to send them for recycling.

Donate/recycle rechargeable batteries and cell phones - Check with your local cell store for programs in your area. Women's shelters will also take useable phones and issue them for emergency programs.

Bring your own bags to the store - Reuse bags or buy cloth bags to carry your purchases

Recycle grocery bags - Most grocery stores have recycling bins for plastic grocery bags and the paper bag can be reused or recycled with paper products.

Refuse uneeded bags - Can you carry that item easily with out a bag? Can everything fit into one bag instead of three? Do you really need a produce bag for your apples, oranges, etc..

Compost - Recycle your food scraps. Not only will you minimize your household waste, decrease methane gas in landfills, but you will be able to use your rich soil for your yard, flower beds, garden, etc.

Buy local foods - Local produced foods are fresher, taste better, and usually have less chemicals (preservatives). You will also cut the cost of transportation and puts money back into your local community.

Buy wind power - Contact your utility provider for more details and costs. Usually it is very minimal and will help support alternative energy ventures and expansion.

Drive less - Do you really need to make that trip to town? Organize better to do many tasks during the same trip. Saves time and energy.

Don't let your vehicle idle - Idling just wastes energy. Newer cars today do not need to idle more than a few minutes on those cold mornings to properly warm the engine. Another myth is you save fuel by letting the vehicle idle on short stops. It is similar to electricity and lighting. You use energy only for how long the engine is on, there is not a surge used to restart the vehicle.

Buy appliances with the energy star label - These appliances are more efficient, utilizing less energy. Though they may cost more upfront the savings are easily made up in energy savings in approximately one year

Have a rummage sale - Rummage sales are a great way to recycle items that you no longer need or want.

Use cloth napkins and towels - These can be washed and reused many times. Paper products are intensive to produce and production gives off many pollutants that are harmful to the environment and human health

Division of Resource Management
(218) 335-7400