Residential Energy Conservation

Energy Conservation

The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) can help homeowners and business owners save money and energy right now. By taking energy-saving measures, you will save energy and money. Some measures are simple and inexpensive. Others will take some investment. Money spent today to improve energy efficiency will reduce energy bills in the future.

When looking at any specific energy-saving ideas, its helpful to know how your home or business uses energy. Energy equals dollars and we pay a certain amount of money for every unit of energy used.

How We Use Energy in Our Homes & Businesses

Energy use is divided into two areas; base load and heating. Heating is the biggest utility expense for most Montana families. Baseload consumption is year-round energy uses like water heating, refrigeration and lighting. Small changes in baseload consumption add up over the entire year. The EPA offers a measurement tool called the Home Energy Yardstick to calculate home energy use. All you need is a single power bill, which ordinarily shows electricity and natural gas usage over a year's time. Enter your usage and see how you compare to similar sized homes nationally. Another excellent resource to use is DEQ's Energy Saver's Guidebook which helps you identify and implement energy savings in your home.

  • Space Heating in your Home - Heating your home uses more energy and drains more energy dollars than any other system in your home. Typically, 49 percent of your utility bill goes for heating. No matter what kind of heating system you have in your house, you can save money and increase your comfort by properly maintaining and upgrading your equipment.
  • Heating Tips - Your heating system, like your car, needs regular maintenance to run at peak efficiency. That means scheduling a yearly maintenance visit with a heating contractor to tune-up the system. A licensed contractor will make sure your heating system is operating efficiently and safely. A regular maintenance schedule can also help in identifying problems early.
  • Select Energy-Efficient Products When You Buy New Heating Equipment - Your contractor should be able to give you energy fact sheets for different types, models, and designs to help you compare energy usage. For furnaces, look for high Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) ratings. The national minimum is 78 percent AFUE, but certain ENERGY STAR models on the market that are rated 95 AFUE and above. ENERGY STAR-qualified models are eligible for the $500 Montana energy conservation credit.
  • Install an Energy Star Programmable Thermostat - Inexpensive and easy to install, programmable thermostats automatically turn down the heat during the weekdays and at night so you do not pay to heat your home or business when no one is around. Programmable thermostats are easy to operate and allow for your different workday and weekend schedules. These thermostats also qualify for the 25 percent Montana energy conservation tax credit.
  • Thermostat Replacement Warning - Many older homes have room temperature thermostats that contain mercury. To identify, remove the front plate and look for one or more small glass bulbs, known as tilt switches. These contain mercury. Each tilt switch contains roughly three grams of mercury, though there may be as much as six grams. Never dispose of this type of thermostat in the trash or local landfill, because mercury is toxic and can leak out to contaminate our air, water, and soil. To assist home-owners with proper disposal of mercury-containing thermostats, a no-cost collection/recycling program is available to all Montana residents. To determine a drop off location in your area, contact your local county sanitarian.