smart thermostat


Energy-Saving Projects for the Weekend Warrior

Are you a weekend warrior? If you’re considering home improvement upgrades that save energy and money, we’ve got a few project ideas for you––all of which can be completed in a day or less! 

Here are three energy-saving projects that you can easily tackle whether you’re a weekend warrior pro or a DIY dabbler.

1. Get smart about home cooling and heating. 

Cooling and heating your home typically account for a large portion of energy bills. Smart thermostats can help keep your cooling and heating costs in check, with ENERGY STAR®-certified models saving about 8% on annual energy costs. 

Now that smart thermostats are more affordable (as little as $70!), this simple upgrade makes for a fun, efficient weekend project. Smart thermostats offer a variety of bells and whistles, but the average model will allow you to set custom temperature schedules, adjust the settings from anywhere (from your phone), and over time, learn your cooling and heating preferences. 

Your new smart thermostat will come with step-by-step instructions, but this project typically involves shutting off your HVAC at the breaker panel, disconnecting/removing the old thermostat, installing the new smart thermostat and connecting it to your home Wi-Fi. Play it safe: remember to carefully read the installation instructions before you get started. 

2. Go green and boost your greenery with a rain barrel. 

If you’ve got a green thumb, you already know that rainwater is the best water for your outdoor plants. Rainwater is free of minerals, salts and treatment chemicals found in tap water or groundwater. It also contains helpful macronutrients to foster healthy plant growth.

Installing a rain barrel is an easy way to harvest large amounts of rainwater and reduce home water use––it’s a win-win. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, one rain barrel can save a homeowner 1,300 gallons of water annually. 

Most residential rain barrels range in size from 50 to 90 gallons, so the size you purchase will depend on your watering needs. 

The simplest way to install a rain barrel is positioning a plastic or wooden barrel directly under your gutter downspout. Basic piping may be required, but this is an easy way to harvest rainwater, and the barrel won’t take up much space. Consider a cover for the top of your rain barrel to keep insects and small debris out of your harvested water.

3. Create fresh savings with a DIY clothesline.

If you have enough outdoor space available, installing a clothesline is a great way to save energy. Not only will you save on dryer costs––in the summer, you can also save on cooling costs since unwanted heat from the clothes dryer won’t be added to your home (which makes your air conditioner work harder). Additionally, air drying is much gentler on fabrics and will keep your clothes and linens looking fresh longer.

You can create your own clothesline with two T-posts, wire and hook-and-eye turnbuckles. Depending on your soil, you may need a small amount of Quikrete to set the posts. Another option is installing the line between two trees. A typical load of laundry requires about 35 feet of line, so keep this in mind as you’re determining the best location.

If an outdoor clothesline isn’t an option, no sweat! You can easily create an indoor drying rack that folds to save space. Home improvement websites like and offer step-by-step tutorials for a variety of indoor clothes racks. 

These are just a few simple ideas to help you save energy and money. So, get out there, roll up those sleeves and tackle a few projects. 

Other Ways to Save Energy:house with lights on

Water Heaters:

  • Reduce thermostat setting to 120 degrees. Have an electrician disconnect the power at the breaker panel before attempting any electrical work. Have an electrician or plumber assist you if you feel you are not qualified. Most energy-efficient dishwashers have a heating element to sanitize dishes which is more efficient and less costly.
  • Install low-flow shower heads. Many newer models provide invigorating showers with less hot water.
  • Add an extra blanket of insulation if the water heater is in an unheated location and is an older less-insulated model.
  • Fix leaky hot water faucets or pipes. They can leak over 2000 gallons of water a year and waste the power used to heat it.
  • Showers use less energy than baths.
  • Do not leave the hot water running longer than necessary when using it.
  • Replace your old water heater with a heat pump water heater.


  • Vacuum coils on back or bottom once or twice a year to remove dust and debris.
  • Set refrigerator temperature no colder than 37 degrees and freezer at 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Keep freezers and refrigerators filled to near capacity.
  • If your unit is not frost-free defrost it regularly.
  • When replacing older units consider ENERGY STAR® appliances and get a rebate.


  • Preheat ovens only when needed. Meals that take more than an hour to cook can be started in a cold oven.
  • Every time you open the oven door, you can lose 25% of the heat in it. "A watched pot never boils."
  • Glass or ceramic cookware conducts heat more efficiently than most metals and you can finish cooking on lower heat. You may be able to reduce cooking temperature by 25 degrees.
  • Microwaves can cut cooking energy by up to 40%--considerably less energy than conventional oven.


  • Try to wash full loads most of the time.
  • Use the energy-savings cycle whenever possible.
  • Use the no-heat dry unless you are in a hurry.
  • When replacing, consider an ENERGY STAR® model.

Clothes Dryer:

  • Check the dryer vent to make sure it is not clogged with lint and is venting the moist air outside the home.
  • Try to operate the dryer when it is full nearly to capacity but not overloaded.
  • Use the lowest heat setting for the load type being dried.
  • Clean the lint filter after each load.
  • Remove clothes immediately at the end of the drying cycle to reduce the need for "fluffing" or "dewrinkling."

Leaving for a few days?

  • If gone during heating season lower your thermostat(s) to 50-55 degrees.
  • If you are gone for more than three days turn off your electric water heater.