the greenes


In the Kitchen

We all know standing with the refrigerator door open lets out the cold. But there are lots of other ways you could be losing money in your kitchen. Check out the tips below to save energy and lower your power bill.

Washing Dishes

  • Good news for your fingers: Hand-washing dishes doesn’t necessarily save energy. Dishwashers use about 15 gallons of hot water, but washing by hand could use as much as 20 gallons.
  • If your dishes aren‘t covered in last night’s lasagna, use the “short-wash” cycle on your dishwasher instead of the “heavy-duty” cycle. It saves water—and the energy used to heat it.

  • Wash a full load of dishes when you run the dishwasher.

  • To save electricity, turn the dishwasher off at the drying cycle. Open the door to air-dry the dishes.

  • Use only cold water when using your garbage disposal. With hot water, the disposal doesn’t work as efficiently. Plus the energy used to heat the water is wasted.




  • Looking for the recipe for savings? By preheating the oven only when the recipe calls for it, you’ll keep from wasting energy.

  • Spills happen. But your range will work more efficiently when it’s clean, so wipe it down regularly.

  • When using a gas range, place the pot or pan on the burner—then turn on flame. It instantly begins to heat. When cooking is complete, turn the burner off immediately.

  • Adjust the flame so it fits the pan. That way you aren’t wasting heat.

  • When cooking on an electric stove, turn the stove off a few minutes before the food is finished cooking. The burner is slow to cool, so cooking will continue.

  • Cook vegetables in as little water as possible, just long enough so they’re tender but still crisp. Not only are you saving energy—you’re getting perfectly cooked veggies.

  • Use a slow cooker to save time, energy and money. Easy dinner. Easy savings.

  • Allow foods to thaw before cooking. You won’t burn energy defrosting them.

  • Don’t open the oven door when food is cooking. Every time you sneak a peek, you’re letting out heat. Use the door’s window, instead.

  • Plan oven meals and grill meals so you cook more than one dish at a time.

  • Don’t line the oven with aluminum foil. It reduces the oven’s efficiency by interfering with air circulation.

  • If there is an exhaust fan over the range, use it! Not only are you blowing out cooking smells, you’re getting rid of hot air, so your air conditioner isn’t working overtime. In winter, only use it when necessary.

  • Use cooking aids like a meat thermometer or temperature chart for accurate cooking times. That way you aren’t burning energy. Or your chicken casserole.

  • If you’re using a range with a self-cleaning feature, send it through the cycle after using the oven, when it’s already warm.

  • Slow-cooking more oven meals in the winter is a good way to stay warm inside and out.

  • In the summer, fire up the grill! Cooking on an outdoor gas grill usually uses less energy than cooking inside. Plus, your kitchen stays cooler, so less air conditioning is needed.

  • Feeling bad about microwaving meals? Don’t. Microwaves actually use less energy than ovens, so you can use the microwave guilt-free!




  • Check door gaskets on refrigerators and freezers for wear. If you’re ready to get rid of your old refrigerator or freezer, check out NIPSCO’s Appliance Recycling Program. Not only will we pick up your appliance for free—we’ll give you $50 for it.

  • Check to see if you’re eligible for NIPSCO’s income qualified refrigerator replacement program. You could receive a no-cost ENERGY STAR® refrigerator.

  • Look for a refrigerator with a drawer-style freezer. These allow less cold air to escape when opened than upright freezers.

  • Keep the freezer full. Less cold air is lost because the frozen food helps retain the cold. Some people even freeze containers of water to take up space!

  • Always cover liquids stored in frost-free refrigerators and freezers. Uncovered liquids draw more moisture into the air, making the unit work harder.

  • If your freezer is not frost-free, defrost it often. Ice acts as insulation and decreases cooling power.

  • Let hot dishes cool before they’re put in the refrigerator.

  • Try to take everything for a meal out of the refrigerator at once. Do the same when putting everything away.

  • If the refrigerator has a power saver switch, use it according to manufacturer’s instructions. Adjust refrigerator and freezer controls to avoid unnecessarily cold settings, which waste energy.

  • A full fridge saves money. Just make sure to allow enough space between items for the air to circulate, and don’t block air vents.

  • Locate refrigerators and freezers away from warm air, like the heat that comes from a range, heating vent, or direct sunlight.

  • Keep it clean. Keep it efficient. If your refrigerator or freezer has a forced-air condenser that blows air out at the bottom, make sure it doesn’t accumulate dust and hair. You should also make sure the condenser tubing on the back of the refrigerator and freezer isn’t touching the wall.



In the Laundry Room

The tips in this section will help you find ways to save energy when you’re doing laundry. It’s like finding change in a pants pocket when you’re loading the washer. Lots of change.

  • Follow detergent instructions carefully. Over-sudsing makes the washing machine motor work harder than necessary.

  • Don’t overload! Load washers and dryers to capacity, but no more. Overloading can cut down on efficiency.

  • Choose the right fabric and temperature settings to use as little water and energy as possible.

  • Install the dryer in a heated area of the home. A dryer will have to work longer and harder in an unheated garage or utility room.

  • If the dryer has an automatic cycle, use it. Over-drying wastes energy. Plus, your clothes won’t last as long.

  • Make sure your dryer is vented to the outside. This keeps your laundry area from becoming damp.

  • Ditch the iron. When you remove clothes from the dryer and hang them up as soon as the cycle is finished, you eliminate a lot of ironing.

  • Clean the lint filter on the dryer after each load to help keep the machine running efficiently.



In the Living Areas

Each room has special energy needs, but the whole house can benefit from a little attention. These simple heating, cooling and lighting tips are designed to save you money—no matter the season. 


  • The biggest way to save is to run your heating and cooling system less often. In the winter, keep the thermostat set at 65° F, or two to four degrees below what you’re used to. Wear heavier clothing to keep warm.

  • In the summer, keep the house at the minimum comfort level. Each degree cooler than 78° F uses substantially more energy. At night, raise the air conditioner’s thermostat setting. While you’re away, turn off the air conditioner.

  • Install a programmable thermostat to save energy while you’re away from home, and bring the home temperature to a comfortable level by the time you return. Programming options vary depending on your thermostat, so be sure to read and save the manufacturer’s instructions. Check out our Rebate Program to learn more about our $50 rebate on smart wi-fi thermostats.

  • Clean your thermostat yearly by removing the cover and carefully blowing away dust.

  • Install thermostats on an inside wall. This way, drafts won’t mess up their temperature settings.



Heating and Cooling

  • A NIPSCO Home Energy Assessment can help you discover new ideas for making your home more energy-efficient. Schedule yours today.

  • Planning to replace any of your existing equipment, such as an air conditioner, boiler or furnace? Find out if you’re eligible for NIPSCO’s Energy Efficiency Rebate Program with incentives ranging from $200 to $400 on home heating and cooling equipment.

  • Sign up to receive MY ENERGY SCORECARD. Your scorecard breaks down your home’s energy use and helps you uncover ways to save.

  • Check to see if you’re eligible for NIPSCO’s income qualified weatherization program. An energy technician will help identify energy-saving opportunities in your home.

  • Make sure your home is well-insulated. Install or add insulation to your attic. See ENERGY STAR's Guide to Sealing and Insulating for help getting started.

  • Caulk the cracks! Stop drafts by weather-stripping or caulking all cracks around doors and windows. Any place pipes enter your home from the outside can have small cracks.

  • Have your heating system checked before each winter and replace filters.

  • Change filters often throughout the year. Dirty filters block the flow of air.

  • Use storm windows and doors or sheets of clear plastic to keep in the heated air in winter and the cooled air in summer.

  • Wrap uninsulated ducts and pipes with low-cost fireproof insulation.

  • With gas-fired heaters, be sure to keep the equipment, vents and chimneys clean and in good repair.

  • If you have an attached garage that’s heated, the garage walls and doors should be insulated. That way, you aren’t heating a room that’s constantly losing warmth.

  • Keep return heating air ducts clean. Dust and lint can keep a room from getting enough heat and make the heater work harder.

  • Don’t block registers or radiators with draperies, curtains, furniture or anything else. Let the air flow freely.

  • If your registers are adjustable, point them so warm air flows across the floor. Warm air rises, so the whole room will heat. Air deflectors can help if your vents aren’t adjustable.

  • Keep the fireplace damper closed when you aren’t using it. You can also inflate a special balloon in the chimney to keep air from escaping.

  • If radiators are near cold walls, a sheet of aluminum or aluminum foil between the wall and the radiator will reflect heat into the room.

  • If you’re using a central air conditioner, the compressor/condenser unit located outside of the home should be shaded. This way, they won’t have to work as hard to cool the air.

  • Use your attic fan, if you have one. An attic exhaust fan blows the hot air out of the attic, keeping the air conditioner from having to work as hard.



Lighting and Electronics

  • NIPSCO electric customers can take advantage of instant savings on high-efficiency lighting like LEDs and compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs. Check out our list of participating retailers.

  • Use the sun to your advantage with your draperies. Let the sun in on cool days and keep it out on warm days.

  • Use fluorescent lamps when possible. Choose low-wattage bulbs for decorative and protective lighting and higher-wattage bulbs for things like reading and sewing.

  • Position lighting sources carefully to get the best illumination with minimum equipment.

  • Keep light fixtures clean. Dirty lamps reduce the amount of light, so you end up turning on more than you actually need.

  • If a lamp has a three-way bulb, use a lower setting for watching television or background lighting and a higher setting when reading.

  • Screensavers save screens—but not energy. Turn off lights and shut down electronics if you aren’t using them.

  • Plug a group of electronics (like an entertainment system) into a power strip. That way, you can turn them all off at the outlet, so you aren’t draining energy.



In the Bathroom

The water heater is one of the biggest energy users in your home. Luckily, these tips can keep your money from going down the drain. If you are installing your own water heater, be sure to check state/local building and plumbing codes before you get started to ensure safety and compliance. And make sure to follow manufacturer's instructions.

  • Leaky faucets waste tremendous amounts of water. A small leak that fills a coffee cup in 10 minutes wastes 3,280 gallons of water over a year. And if it’s hot water, you’re wasting energy, too.

  • Set a shower timer. Quick showers usually require less water than taking a bath. You can also add a showerhead restrictor, so you waste less water.

  • Shave better to save better. When shaving, partially fill the basin with hot water rather than letting the hot water run right down the drain.

  • Get a well-insulated water heater, and set the thermostat no higher than necessary for household uses (120 F to 140 F).

  • Going away for more than a week? Turn the water heater control to a lower temperature setting.

  • Insulate hot water pipes.

  • Installing an energy-efficient vent fan in the bathroom helps clear the hot, damp air after a shower, and may use up to 60% less energy than a standard bathroom fan. So no more steamed up mirrors. And no more wasted energy.




Many people have energy-efficient appliances and electronics, but aren’t using them right. These tips can make sure you’re getting the most out of them.

  • Replace old, outdated equipment with new energy-efficient models. Find out if you’re eligible for NIPSCO’s Energy Efficiency Rebate Program to earn rebates ranging from $50 to $400.

  • Buy the right-sized equipment to meet your family’s needs, and compare appliances before you buy.

  • Screensavers save screens, not energy. Use a power strip to turn off your computer and other electronics in one quick step.

  • Recycle electric products. Visit Energy Star to learn more.

  • Read appliance manuals carefully and follow the instructions. Manuals may also give specific information to help conserve energy.