Ways to Save

Water Usage

In Your Bathroom

Twist the Tap: Don’t run water in the sink while shaving, brushing your teeth or lathering your face and hands.

Economize: Take shallow baths, shorter showers and consider bathing small children together.

Don’t Trash it: Avoid using the toilet as a wastebasket.

Buy carefully:

  • Toilets: When purchasing a new toilet consider the options; like a water-saver or dual flush toilet. A cheaper toilet that uses more water may cost you more in the long term.
  • Shower heads and Faucets: Low-flow shower heads and faucets are a great way to save water, up to 11% of your water use or 2,300 gallons a year (Based on EPA water sense). Faucet aerators on your bathroom faucets also reduce water flow, saving energy and water.

In Your Kitchen

Twist the Tap: Clean vegetables or rinse dishes in a pan of water, not under a running faucet.

Be smart quenching your thirst: Keep a bottle of drinking water in the refrigerator to avoid running the tap to get a glass of cool water. However, don’t linger with the refrigerator open!

Buy Carefully: Low flow faucets and the installation of faucet aerators will reduce the amount of water that goes down the drain.

Watering our landscaping is a normal part of life in the spring, summer, and fall. By taking a few simple steps you can use water more efficiently, increase your property value, and decrease your heating and cooling costs. Energy Savings through proper watering does not necessarily entail decreased watering.

It is important to work with someone who is trained in arboriculture to determine proper watering of the landscape at your home. In addition, these professionals will aid in proper placement of new trees and shrubs to provide decreases in heating and cooling consumption and the largest increase in property value.

Water Properly

Different plants types need different amounts of water and watering schedules. Pay special attention to the correct watering of your trees.

Use timers to ensure watering occurs for the proper amount of time.

Utilize different watering techniques (sprinklers, soaker hoses, etc) for the proper purpose.

Do not water what does not need water. Concrete and asphalt do not need water.

Reduce Water Requirements

Mulch plants generously to retain moisture in the root zone.

Focus on planting native or water-wise species in appropriate locations to bolster water and energy savings.


Let the sun shine in: Why use the lights when you can use the sun? Open blinds and curtains during the day to take advantage of natural light (it is free.)

Use task lighting: Overhead lights flood a room or area with light, sometimes more than is needed. By using only the light you need to complete your tasks, such as a desk or reading lamp or under-counter lighting, you’ll create ambiance and save energy.

Use only what you need: Do you ever go into a room and turn on all the lights? Or leave landscaping lighting on all night? Inside and outside, use only as much light as you need.

Turn it off: When leaving a room, turn off the light if you aren’t coming right back.

Keep them clean: Dirty or dusty light bulbs don’t put out as much light as clean bulbs.

Switch to Energy Star LED’s: LED’s are now available as long lasting, super-efficient lighting options for all kinds of bulbs. Make sure you buy Energy Star ones to know you are getting bulbs that will last!

Install Lighting Controls: Everyone knows that you can save energy by turning off lights when they’re not needed but sometimes we forget. Lighting controls can be used to automatically turn lights on and off as needed, preventing energy waste.

  • Motion sensors make sense: These sensors turn lights on and off when someone enters or leaves the room. The garage, basement, and other seldom used rooms are the perfect place for one. They’re also good for exterior lighting. Your lights will only come on when motion is detected. These are also excellent for security lighting, turning the security lights on when motion is detected and automatically turning them off again. Motion sensors can reduce the electricity lights consume by up to 80%.
  • Dim the lights: Consider purchasing dimmer switches. They can increase bulb life while reducing electric consumption and operating cost.
  • Try photocells: Photocells automatically turn on our lights when it gets dark. Then, when it’s bright enough, the photocell turns the lights off. They’re great for outdoor or security lighting because you don’t have to remember to turn them off in the morning. The sunlight will do it for you.

Decorate in light colors: If you plan to redecorate, think about lighter colors. Dark colors absorb light, so you’ll need more lights to brighten the room.

Let the light through: Lamp shades make a big difference. A lamp with a light colored shade, especially one that’s lined in white, will give the best light. Tall, narrow shades or short, dark-colored shades let less light through.

Consider low voltage outdoor lighting: If you’re planning to light up your landscaping, install low voltage lighting whenever possible.

Choose solar for landscape lighting: Solar-powered lights are a great option for decorative lighting along pathways and in landscaped areas. The best part is the sun provides the power to light them up at night.

Replace older Christmas lights with new LED ones: Save energy, reduce fire risk, and help your tree last longer. At the same time install a timer to control the times the lights are on.

Plan for that vacation: If you’re going away, you’ll probably want to leave some lights on for security reasons. If so, consider buying timers to turn your lights on and off instead of leaving them on 24 hours a day.

Choose Energy Star light fixtures: When you’re adding or replacing light fixtures, choose styles with the ENERGY STAR rating. They use at least 75% less energy than standard fixtures and come in a wide variety of styles and colors.

Water Heating

Adjust your thermostats: You can save 3% of the operating cost for every 10º Fahrenheit you reduce the temperature on your electric water heater. Flathead Electric recommends setting your water heater temperature to 120º F. This will save money on your energy bill and possibly extend the life of your water heater. Remember, water temperatures above 120º F can cause burns.

Flush it (your water heater): Flush the sediment out of your water heater to maintain efficiency. How often depends on the quality of your water. Flush it every 6 months, and if you do not get much sediment, switch to every year.

Clean with cold water: Save the hot water for showers and if possible, do household cleaning with cold water.

Use less laundry water: If your clothes washer has a water level selector, use the lowest practical level for each load of clothes. If there is no water level-selector wait until the washing machine is full before starting the laundry.

Wash your laundry in cold water: 90% of energy consumption for washing clothes comes from heating the water. Utilize cold water with a cold water detergent to get your clothes just as clean and save. Besides, they’ll fade less and have fewer wrinkles. You might even save on ironing. Save washing in warm water for whites or hard to clean items. Not sure if this will work for you? Start small: rinse in cold water and wash in warm. If this works, try a cold rinse with cold wash.

Run full loads of dishes: Washing full loads will reduce the amount of energy and water required to clean your dishes. One full load costs less to run than two smaller loads.

Skip the Pre-Rinse: Don’t use the pre-rinse cycle on your dishwasher. Normally it is not necessary with today’s dishwashers. Skipping it can save as much as 20 gallons per load or 6,500 gallons per year plus the cost of heating that water.

Take shorter showers: Reduce your shower time. Even eliminating just a couple minutes per shower can really add up since every minute you cut from your shower time saves an average of 2.5 gallons of water and the energy used to heat the water.

Going on Vacation: Turn the water heater thermostats down to a low or vacation setting. For even better energy savings; if there is no risk of freezing turn off your water heater at the electric panel when you are on vacation.

Consider install location for a new water heater: Installing water heaters in conditioned space will prevent you from paying to heat the great outdoors (or your unheated garage, crawl space, etc.) If you have no other option, insulate the space (crawl space or garage) to prevent excessive heat loss.

Fix those drips: If you have a leaky faucet, you’re pouring money down the drain. A slow drip can waste up to 450 gallons of water a month. If it’s hot water, you are not only paying to heat the water, but you are paying for the water, and may be paying for the disposal as well. If you have a domestic well, pumping costs are also a factor.

Install low flow heads/faucets: Showers can account for over half of the hot water consumed in a home. Low-flow shower heads are a great way to save both energy and water, up to 11% of your water use or 2,300 gallons a year (Based on EPA water sense). Faucet aerators on your kitchen and bathroom faucets also reduce water flow, saving energy and water. Lower hot water usage means lower utility costs for you! Shower heads and aerators can be purchased at most hardware stores. Worried that you will feel like you are showering under a trickle? Ask around, find a friend with a low flow shower head that they are happy about.

Stop heating your home with your water heater: Wrapping an insulation blanket around your hot water tank will reduce the heat loss from your water heater and will save on your energy bill. You can buy an insulation blanket for your water heater at your local hardware store and install it yourself. It can save as much as 9% on your water heating costs. Before you install a blanket check the caution label on your water heater. Some newer models come with adequate insulation levels and may prohibit installing a blanket. Otherwise add the insulation and start saving!

Insulate hot water pipes: Insulating your hot water pipes saves you money. You also won’t have to wait as long for hot water when you turn on a faucet or shower head, which helps conserve water. Insulate all accessible hot water pipes, especially within 3 feet of the water heater. It’s also a good idea to insulate the cold water inlet pipes for the first 3 feet.

Stop going in circles: If you utilize a continuous loop circulation system install a timer to limit time of operation to match with your schedules or call FEC to learn about other smart control options. Continuous circulation systems can turn the water heater into a space heater. Insulate all the pipes in the loop and make sure it is enclosed in a well insulated space in the home to prevent heating the outdoors. Consider shutting it off in the summer to prevent heating your home during the AC season.

Consider a high efficiency heat pump water heater: Water heaters are usually the second largest energy user in a typical home after space heating. A heat pump water heater uses heat pump technology to save over half of your water heating costs. FEC offers a rebate for the installation of heat pump water heaters in qualifying homes.

New Dishwasher: Is your dishwasher more than 10 years old? Replacing it with an ENERGY STAR model will save you energy and water since ENERGY-STAR-rated models use at least 41 percent less energy than the federal minimum standard for energy consumption and a third less water.

New Clothes Washer: If you are considering replacing your washing machine or it needs significant repairs, you can reduce your washing costs by as much as 70% by replacing your washing machine with a new ENERGY STAR® labeled model. These models can also reduce your detergent use, reduce clothes drying time, and cut water use by 30% or more which could equal 6000 gallons per year. Less water also means a lower water bill. FEC offers a rebate for the purchase of a high efficiency clothes washer.

Install a drain water heat recovery system: Remodeling? Capture the heat from your shower drain with a drain-water heat recovery system to reduce the energy needed to heat your water. Any hot water that goes down the drain carries away energy with it. That’s typically 80 to 90% of the energy used to heat water in a home. Drain-water heat recovery systems capture this energy to preheat cold water entering the water heater or going to other water fixtures.

Install a solar hot water system: Install a solar hot water system to supplement your existing electric water heater. A SHW system preheats the water that goes into your existing water heater and reduces the amount of electricity your water heater consumes by 50 to 70%.


Use fans and shut off the AC: A fan (ceiling or portable) uses less than 5% of the energy an air conditioner may require. Ceiling fans are an energy-efficient option for cooling the spaces you use the most. You may still need your AC on occasion but save with a fan. Remember, if you plan to leave for a few minutes or more, turn your fan off. Running it while you’re not there is wasteful.

Let the cool air in: During the cooler morning and evening hours, open your windows and use the outside air to cool your home.

Keep the sun out: During the day, keep your drapes or blinds closed for windows with eastern, southern, and western exposures can help reduce heat from the sun.

Turn it up: Increase the thermostat setting of your central air conditioner and save on cooling costs. We suggest that you set your cooling thermostat at 78 degrees or higher when you are home and turn it off when you are away to achieve maximum savings.

Keep vents clear: An obstructed vent wastes both energy and money.

Keep your AC cool: Place portable or window air conditioning units out of the direct sunlight.

Keep it in: Keep your doors and windows closed when you have the air conditioner on.

Avoid heating your home: Appliances such as dishwashers, clothes washers and dryers give off heat, so try to avoid their use during the hottest times of the day.

Use Small Appliances in the Kitchen: Use a crock pot, toaster oven, or microwave instead of your full-sized range or oven to keep your home cooler and save energy. These small appliances use only 20 to 50% of the energy needed to cook the same meal on your stove top or oven.

Shade your house: Use landscaping, awnings, and overhangs to provide shade around the outside of your home. A shaded house is easier to cool than one in direct sunlight. Exterior window awnings can reduce solar heat gain in the summer by up to 65% on south-facing windows and 77% on west-facing windows.

Plant a tree: You probably know that trees help improve air quality and enhance the appearance of your property and neighborhood. You may not realize that planting shade trees on the southwest and southeast corners of your home will keep your home cooler during the summer months. If you have air conditioning, shade trees can reduce your cooling needs by 20 to 100% depending on the size and type of tree and the design of your home. See Water Conservation: Landscaping for additional information on landscaping for energy efficiency.

Maintain it: Proper maintenance helps your air conditioner run more efficiently. Replace your furnace filters every few months during the cooling season. It’s also important to keep the area around the outside compressor free of weeds and debris – check each spring before you turn on the AC for the first time. You’ll improve your air quality as well as save energy.

Tune up the AC: Have a professional clean and inspect your central AC unit every other spring to ensure that it is tuned and ready for the summer. You’ll save energy and extend the life of your system.

Inspect the seal on your window A/C unit: With time, the seal around your window air conditioner can degrade, allowing freshly cooled air to escape back outside. Inspect the seal each spring and replace it if needed.

Upgrade your central AC: When you replace your central air conditioner consider an energy efficient central air conditioner that uses less electricity to cool your home. The higher the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER), the lower the electric bill will be for you. Talk to your local air conditioning contractor about high efficiency units

Upgrade your central AC and heating at the same time: Consider upgrading your heating and cooling systems at the same time to a high efficiency Heat Pump which will help you save energy in the winter and summer. If you have an electric furnace a heat pump could save you up to 50% of your heating costs. Rebates and loans are available from Flathead Electric for qualifying installations.

Upgrade your window AC: If you choose to replace your primary room air conditioner be sure to read the ENERGY GUIDE label to help you select the most efficient room air conditioning unit. The higher the Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) number the lower the electric usage.

Upgrade window AC and heating at the same time: If you have electric zonal resistance heat (baseboards, in-wall, or ceiling radiant) consider upgrading your heat and AC at the same time with the installation of a Ductless Heat Pump. Ductless Heat Pumps are twice as efficient as electric resistance heat and have very high AC efficiency. Rebates and loans are available from Flathead Electric for qualifying installations.


Be Smart with your Thermostat: Electric Furnaces and Electric Zonal Heat (Baseboards, in wall, or ceiling cable)
Turn down your thermostat while sleeping or away from your home. Install a smart thermostat to make sure your home is comfy again before you wake up or return home. Setting the heat at 55 when you’re sleeping or away from home could save as much as 10% on your heating costs.

Be Smart with your Thermostat: Heat Pumps
Ask your heating contractor, or call Flathead Electric to find out how much you can turn down your thermostat at night or while away for the day before your expensive electric backup is turned on when you change your thermostat back to a comfortable temperature. If you want to save more install a smart thermostat that allows bigger set-backs on your thermostat and then will return your home to comfy without the energy penalty.

Wear the layered look: Consider wearing layers of clothing inside the house. It will keep your body heat in and you won’t need to turn up the thermostat.

Keep the warm air in:

  • Dampers: Chimneys are designed to suck smoke out of your house but will continue suck away your comfort if you don’t close the damper when they are not in use.
  • AC Units: Remove your window AC during the winter or seal over it on the inside with a cover to prevent cold air from sneaking in.

Let the sun shine in: Open the shades on south facing windows during the day to let the sun in and close them at night to keep the warmth in.

Keep your heat flowing: If you have furniture or curtains in front of your wall/baseboard heaters or register vents, you could be blocking the heat they’re delivering. Each fall, check to be sure the heaters or vents are not blocked.

Use your zone heating: If you have baseboard, wall heaters, or ceiling cable heat turn down the thermostats in unused rooms and close the door. Zone heating like this can produce energy savings of more than 20% compared to heating both occupied and unoccupied areas of your house.

Be smart with your space heater: You can save on heating costs if you use a space heater to heat where you are in the home rather than turning on your furnace and heating the whole home. Be sure to turn off the heater when you’re not in the room.

Insulate your home properly: Proper insulation will keep your home warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer and more comfortable! Call FEC to discuss how much to install for an efficient home, find out if you could qualify for a rebate to upgrade your insulation, or learn about tax credits for upgrading.

  • Attics: Attics are usually the easiest and the least expensive areas of the house to insulate and provide the greatest insulation benefit. Insulation not only saves energy, it has a lot to do with how comfortable you feel. FEC recommends at least R-60 attic insulation for an efficient home.
  • Walls: An efficient home in our climate will have R40 or more on the walls above the ground. The next time you replace the siding don’t miss out on the opportunity to upgrade your wall insulation.
  • Basements and Crawl Spaces: An efficient home in our climate will have R21 or more insulation on any walls below the ground.

Air Seal your home: Air sealing is one of the most significant energy efficiency improvements you can make to your home. Before improving your insulation make sure you have sealed it properly. Call FEC to learn more.

  • Weather-stripping: Make sure your exterior windows and doors fit tightly with good weather-stripping. This will help reduce cold drafts in the winter and cool air escaping in the summer.
  • Attics/crawlspaces: Hire a professional or talk with FEC about how to air seal your attic and crawlspace to prevent the comfy air you have paid to heat from being wasted heating the outdoors.
  • Use a smart thermostat: For optimal heating efficiency, convenience, comfort, and energy savings install learning thermostat. These thermostats learn your preference for temperatures in your home and work to meet them while saving you on heating costs by finding ways to operate your heating system less.
  • Keep it clean: A furnace with a dirty filter has to work harder to get the comfy warm air into your home. Check filters preferably every month but at least twice during the heating season.
  • Seal your furnace ductwork: Unsealed heating ducts that are under mobile homes, in attics, or in un-insulated crawlspaces cause comfort issues and may direct your heat to the outdoors. Duct sealing can save you up to 20% of the electric heating portion of your bill. Flathead Electric offers a rebate to help seal your ductwork.
  • Take advantage of your landscaping: You probably know that trees help improve air quality and enhance the appearance of your property and neighborhood. You may not realize that trees planted properly can reduce your heating and air conditioning needs. Trees planted as windbreaks will protect your home from winter winds and reduce your heating needs by 10 to 40%. For help with species and planting location professional arbor culturists can be found at the Association of Montana Turf, Ornamental, and Pest Professionals.
  • Get yourself a fan: Installing and using an ENERGY STAR ceiling fan to circulate the air can lower both your heating and cooling costs. Be sure to run the fan on reverse during the winter to push warm air down off the ceiling.

Upgrading your electric furnace: Heat pumps are an energy efficient option for replacing your inefficient electric furnaces. Not only do they provide high efficiency heat but they also provide air conditioning. FEC offers rebates for heat pump systems installed by approved contractors.

Upgrade your Baseboards or in-wall Heaters: Ductless heat pumps are a cost-effective way to displace zoned electric heat such as baseboards, wall units or ceiling radiant heat without installing costly ductwork. These units can help you save up to 50% of the heating cost you pay with zonal electric. In addition Ductless Heat Pumps provide high efficiency air conditioning in the summer. Flathead Electric offers a rebate for the installation of ductless heat pumps in qualifying existing electrically heated homes.

Upgrade to Energy Star Windows: FEC recommends replacing your old inefficient windows with new Energy Star ones. Properly installed, energy efficient windows are warmer inside and reduce drafts. New windows can save you energy, increase your comfort, and increase your home’s value. FEC offers rebates for window replacements in qualifying homes.