Eco-Friendly Tips

Thank you!

brochureYou've just taken another step toward conserving energy--and our natural resources. Each of us can help control energy use. Simple ideas, such as replacing incandescent light bulbs with CFL bulbs, can have big effects. More than $256 can be saved annually by just turning off and unplugging electrical appliances when not in use. This helps avoid energy waste and can prevent over 1,000 pounds of pollution. When you manage your energy use, you help the environment.

Minnesota's Touchstone Energy® Cooperatives is partnering with Minnesota State Parks and Trails to bring you more ideas to help. Follow these tips from Minnesota's Touchstone Energy® Cooperatives to conserve energy, do your part for the environment, and save money.

Home Energy

  • Turn off unnecessary lights.
  • Turn off computers and other office equipment when they're not being used, especially overnight and weekends.
  • Heating your home to higher than 68° in the winter or cooling it below 78° in the summer costs extra.
  • Taking extra-long showers runs up the water heating (and water/sewer) bills.


  • If you have R-19 or less insulation in your attic, consider bringing it up to R-49 in cold climates.


  • Tighten and weather-strip your old windows and add storm windows.
  • In colder climates "low-e" coatings on glass can help reduce heat loss through windows.
  • In hot climates, consider adding solar screening to west-facing windows to cut down on excessive heat gain. Solar screening is sold at many home improvement stores.

Air Infiltration

  • Ensure weather-stripping around doors and windows is tight.
  • Whole-house attic fans should be sealed tightly during the winter.
  • Make sure your outside dryer vent door closes when the dryer is not in use. This requires cleaning away lint accumulation periodically.

Water Heater

  • Make sure your water heater is set at the lowest point. Try setting it to 120°.
  • Try washing clothes with warm or cold water and rinsing with cold water.
  • Overfilling your washer can increase your energy use.
  • If your water heater is located in an unconditioned space, consider installing a thermal wrap around it. (Check with your manufacturer's instructions to do this safely.)


  • Drying clothes can use a fair amount of energy.
  • Don't over-dry your clothes. If 50 minutes works, don't set to 70 minutes. If so equipped, use the automatic setting instead.
  • Be sure to clean the inside lint filter before each drying cycle.
  • Periodically check your flexible metal dryer vent hose to ensure it is still tightly connected and not kinked. Replace with straight tubing for maximum airflow.


  • Make sure refrigerator and freezer seals fit tightly when doors close.
  • Keep outside coils clean. Dirty coils make your refrigerator compressor work longer to remove heat.
  • Setting your freezer below zero degrees uses extra energy.
  • Setting your refrigerator below 37° uses extra energy.

Heating and Air Conditioning

  • All HVAC systems should be serviced on a regular basis.
  • A qualified HVAC technician can check the system for efficiency, proper airflow, and safety.
  • Air conditioning and heat pump systems should be checked for proper refrigerant charge and refilled as needed.
  • Inside and outside coils should be kept clean and free of debris.
  • Have an HVAC technician check carefully for duct leaks. Leaks should be sealed with fiberglass mesh and mastic sealant.
  • Replace disposable air filters on a regular basis to increase airflow and improve efficiency.


  • Replace commonly used incandescent lighting with energy-saving compact fluorescent lamps.
  • CFL bulbs use about one-quarter of the energy, last longer, and give off less heat.
  • When you finish cooking, turn off the kitchen lighting and the exhaust fan.
  • Take a look at the security lighting you use at night. Check with your Touchstone Energy Cooperative to see if it can help save you money by installing a pole-mounted outdoor light.

The Minnesota State Parks and Trails guide is made possible through the generous support of Minnesota's Touchstone Energy® Cooperatives, an alliance of electric cooperatives. 

Request a copy by calling 651-296-6157 in the Twin Cities or 1-888-646-6367, or e-mailing [email protected].