How to prevent an AC emergency and what to do if your AC breaks.


A broken air conditioner (AC) during the summer isn’t just annoying — it can be life-threatening. If your air conditioner, whether that’s a central air conditioner, heat pump, mini-split or any element of your cooling system, breaks, TVA EnergyRight is here to help you know what to do next. Plus, we’ll give you some simple tips for keeping your home cool until your air conditioning system is back on its feet and fully functioning again.

And if you do find yourself in need of new heating and cooling equipment, our home energy rebates and convenient on-bill financing option can help.

What is an AC emergency?

An AC emergency can look, sound and feel like different things. You might be experiencing an AC emergency if your AC:

  • Stops working and the outdoor temperature exceeds 90° F.
  • Produces a burning smell.
  • Leaks water inside the house.
  • Forms ice in the summer on the outdoor unit and around connecting lines.
  • Experiences electrical issues that cause your breaker to trip.
  • Produces any loud or especially unusual sounds. 

If you know your AC makes an odd-but-predictable-to-you noise when it kicks on, then it’s probably not an emergency. Should you get it checked out? Yes! But you probably don’t need a same-day appointment with an HVAC pro. If it’s the middle of July, 98° F outside and your AC completely breaks down, that is an emergency. People’s safety could be at risk if you don’t take immediate action.

In an emergency situation, consider turning the system “Off” and set the fan to “On” instead of “Auto.”

It’s probably worth noting that the national refrigerant standards are changing in 2025, and the new standards may increase the cost of replacing your system. If you’ve been thinking about replacing your AC, you may want to consider doing it before January 1, 2025. Don’t forget to familiarize yourself with our HVAC system rebates before you take the plunge!

Who is most at risk when your AC breaks?

Don’t take chances with the health of anyone living in your household. Even an indoor temperature of 80° F can be considered excessive heat for:

  • Babies, infants and young children.
  • The elderly.
  • People who are immuno-compromised or chronically ill.
  • Pets.

Avoid dangerous consequences for at-risk people and animals by preparing a heat wave preparedness plan now (more on that in just a minute).

5 steps to take if your AC breaks.

If you experience an air conditioner emergency like any of the ones we just outlined or are living with anyone whose health could be in danger, here’s what to do:

  1. Check the thermostat. It’s possible the thermostat was accidentally turned off or set to heat instead of cool. 
  2. Check the circuit breaker. A power surge or nearby lightning strike may have temporarily cut off your power supply. You may be able to restore power to your system just by flipping a switch back on. If your HVAC system continues to go out, though, don’t continue to mess with your circuit breaker. It could cause additional damage. 
  3. Turn off power to the AC unit. If it’s not the thermostat and not the breaker, then just go ahead and cut off power to your HVAC system at the breaker box. If you don’t know where your breaker box is, can’t find the appropriate switch inside or don’t feel comfortable with the task, skip this step and go straight to step four. 
  1. Contact an HVAC system contractor/repair person ASAP. If your area is in the middle of a heat wave, you can bet that every HVAC pro in town is fielding calls left and right. Get on their appointment list as soon as you can. Even though it’s an emergency, don’t just pick any contractor you can find. That could leave you vulnerable to bad actors who don’t have the best interest of your home and budget in mind. Instead, search our Quality Contractor Network for free. We only list TVA-vetted HVAC pros who have been trained to meet our project quality standards. 
  2. Move any heat-sensitive residents to a cooler location. You may be able to personally wait it out for an HVAC technician to arrive, but prioritize moving anyone in your household who is especially vulnerable to excessive heat to another cooler location. 

While these are the immediate steps to take if you’re experiencing an AC emergency, there are more things you can do to stay as comfortable as possible while you wait for a system repair or replacement.

How to stay cool while you wait for AC repair or replacement.

Unfortunately, if your AC goes out in the middle of summer, even if only for an afternoon or evening, it’s going to get hot inside . . . quickly. As we just mentioned, if there are any people or pets in your home who could experience life-threatening consequences from excessive heat, get them moved as soon as possible to a cooler location. That could be someone else’s home, a hotel, or even a library, church or big box store for a few hours. Anywhere with air conditioning is better than a place with no air conditioning. 

Here are some ways to keep cool(ish) if your AC is broken:

  • Use fans. Fans don’t actually decrease the temperature of your home but they increase circulation, helping your body keep itself cool.
  • Set ceiling fans to rotate counterclockwise. This creates a cooling downdraft.
  • Put a bowl of ice in front of a fan. As the fan rotates, it will create a cooling breeze. 
  • Put box fans in your windows at night. This helps draw in cooler air from outside. (Yes, it might still be 80° weather, but that’ll be cooler than any 95° F temps you might be rocking inside!)
  • Drink lots of water. Stay hydrated and avoid caffeinated and alcoholic beverages that can further dehydrate you.
  • Skip the stove, dishwasher and dryer. Any heat-generating appliances in your home are only going to make things feel worse, so avoid using them as much as you can.
  • Take a cold shower. A cold shower might feel terrible on any other day, but if your AC is out, it might just be what the doctor ordered.
  • Close curtains and blinds. A surprising amount of the sun’s heat can make its way through windows, especially if they aren’t double-paned or coated in a heat-blocking film
  • Freeze water bottles. Water bottles, frozen veggies, ice packs — they can all make nice cold compresses. 
  • Wear loose and lightweight clothing. Aim for breathable fabrics like linen and cotton.
  • Leave the house. Don’t grin and bear it if you can avoid it. Go to the mall, visit a friend’s house, go to an indoor ice skating rink, find a pool, get a hotel room for the night. And if it’s not possible to leave, check your city government or local health department’s website for transportation and accommodation resources for people without access to air conditioning during a major heat event. 

How to prepare for a major heat event.

When it’s summer in the South, you know a heat wave or two (or three) is going to roll in. Hot temps, especially for an extended period of time, can really be dangerous, and not just to vulnerable populations. So, when the next round of excessive heat arrives, be ready. Here’s how to prepare:

Take the free DIY Home Energy Assessment.

Know where your home stands when it comes to your HVAC system’s energy efficiency. When you complete our free online DIY Home Energy Assessment, you’ll get an easy-to-follow report highlighting the exact steps you can take to boost your home’s energy efficiency, including HVAC system performance, and start saving money. Plus, we’ll mail you a free energy-saving kit and $10 home improvement store gift card. If you’d prefer an evaluation from a pro, you can book a Home Energy Evaluation with a TVA-certified Home Energy Advisor instead.

Find an HVAC technician before you need one. 

Remember earlier when we said every HVAC technician’s phone will be ringing off the hook during a heat wave? Well, one way you can pull a little favor and inch your way to the top of the line is to already have a relationship with an HVAC pro or company. Most often, they’ll want to prioritize existing customers, continue to provide great customer service and lock in your future business.

Don’t know who to hire? Head to our Quality Contractor Network where you can search for local HVAC pros in your area for free. All Quality Contractor Network members are vetted by TVA, licensed, insured and trained to meet TVA’s project quality standards. Make sure their name and contact information is already saved in your phone. 

Get an AC tune-up in the spring.

One way to form an ongoing relationship with your local HVAC company is to get regular HVAC system tune-ups: one in the spring for your cooling system and one in the fall for your heating system. Not only can this help you jump the line in an AC emergency, but tune-ups extend the life of your HVAC system and can help prevent total system breakdowns. (Don’t miss our $50 tune-up rebate for central air conditioning systems.)

Perform basic DIY weatherproofing. 

There are lots of simple and inexpensive things you can do to keep outside air out of your home. Weatherproofing (or weatherization) is the process of sealing gaps and cracks in your home. Weatherization is important for a more energy efficient home and lower energy bill, and in times of extreme weather when every degree counts, you’ll be glad for the extra buffers.  

Use weatherstripping and caulk around windows. Get inexpensive door sweeps to block gaps around doors. Or in a pinch, skip those options and use blankets or towels around doors and windows.  

Take a peek at your attic, wall and floor insulation

Properly insulating your home results in a more comfortable and energy efficient home! Be sure to check out our rebates on new attic insulation.

Create a heat wave preparedness plan.

Now that you have some important preventive pieces in play, it’s time to create an air conditioning emergency plan. This doesn’t need to be anything fancy or expensive — it just needs to keep you safe in extreme heat if you’ve lost access to air conditioning. Here are some things to add to your prep list:

  • Keep jugs of purified water on hand.
  • Keep frozen ice packs and bottled water in the freezer.
  • Have backup fans: handheld, window, standing.
  • Determine a location where you and anyone in your household can go if it becomes unsafe to stay at home. Don’t forget about pets.
  • Consult with your doctor or anyone overseeing medical care for vulnerable household members (including pets) about what to do in the event of extreme heat. Ask about indoor temperature thresholds, signs of heat-related illnesses, and where to find free local transportation and/or accommodations resources.

HVAC replacement isn’t cheap. We can help.

Just hearing the words “new HVAC system” will strike fear into the heart of most homeowners. HVAC replacements aren’t cheap, they usually come at a bad time, and they’re not something anyone really wants to spend their money on. Fortunately, not every AC emergency requires an HVAC system replacement. But when it does, we’re here to help.

If it’s time to replace your HVAC system, start by hiring a TVA-vetted contractor from our Quality Contractor Network. Not only are you going to get quality work from a trusted HVAC pro, but Quality Contractor Network members are also your key to unlocking all of our home energy rebates, including HVAC system rebates, which range from $50 to $1,500. Plus, together with your local power company, TVA EnergyRight also offers a helpful on-bill financing option. It’s $0 down, features a competitive fixed-interest rate, and the monthly payments are split up and spread across your monthly energy bills. It’s more convenient, easier to track and safer because there’s no third-party managing your loan. Don’t let an AC emergency take the fun out of summer. Instead, stay cool, stay safe and save big. 

Find a contractor and get your home energy rebates today.

House too hot? Keep summer heat out of your home.


A too-hot home can make for a very long summer. But cooling down your home isn’t always as simple as turning down the thermostat. A lot of factors contribute to how efficiently — or inefficiently — your home maintains your preferred temperature. Insulation, ductwork and air sealing can make or break your home’s energy efficiency, leaving you with an energy bill that’ll make you sweat or one that feels more like a breath of fresh air. So, let’s explore how summer heat can enter your home, how it gets trapped inside, and a range of solutions to keep the indoor temps you want within reach.

How heat moves.

Quick science lesson! Heat is transferred in three unique ways: conduction, radiation and convection. You don’t need to understand the principles of heat transfer to know your home is too hot, though. This quick review, however, provides context for why certain efficiency upgrades matter so much to your overall energy bill and comfort. Let’s break them down:

  1. Conduction is heat transfer through solid material. Think: roof, walls and windows.
  2. Convection is heat transfer through circulation, or just simply air exchange. Warm air is less dense than cool air, so warm air rises while cool air sinks. Heat always travels from hot to cold.
  3. Radiation is heat transfer through visible and non-visible light. Think: sunlight or low-wavelength infrared radiation like heat from a hot stovetop burner.

Conduction and convection are the most common means of heat transfer in a home. Radiation only accounts for a small percentage of total heat transfer, and that’s most likely to come almost exclusively from your windows. 

How hot air from outside gets inside your home.

Now that we’ve got the basics of heat transfer down, let’s get more specific about how hot air from outside actually gets inside your home. Any opening in your home, whether that’s a fully open door or a teeny, tiny space around an outside dryer vent, is an invitation for air exchange. 

So, for instance, let’s say you leave your screen door open in the summer while your AC is running. (Of course, we definitely don’t recommend this.) The hot summer air, like a moth to a flame, will beeline it straight inside your home as it moves toward and mixes with your cool air. The reverse is true in the winter. All the lovely warm air inside your home will escape through any gap or crack possible as it draws itself toward cooler air. Remember, heat always moves from hot to cold.

Insulation: Your home’s blanket.

Insulation’s singular purpose is to be an obstacle for heat, whether that’s stopping outside hot air from coming in or preventing your indoor heat from going out. But insulation, hidden behind walls, under floors and in the attic, tends to fall into the category of Out of Sight, Out of Mind. So, we’re here to bring it back to the top of your mind!

The most powerful, energy efficient HVAC system in the world will never be able to live up to its full potential if your home’s insulation doesn’t pull its own weight. You can blast your AC as low as it can go all day long, but a poorly insulated home will be no match for outside heat determined to get inside.

The 3 main reasons why you should upgrade your insulation. 

  1. Lowers your energy bill.
  2. Increases your indoor comfort.
  3. Extends the life of your HVAC system.

Plus, you can combine our home energy rebates on insulation with federal tax credits to increase your total savings.

Duct system: Your home’s highway.

Your home’s duct system works hand-in-hand with your heating, cooling, air conditioning and ventilation (HVAC) system. An HVAC system creates the heating or cooling necessary to get your home to its desired temperature while your duct system is responsible for actually moving that warm or cool air around your home. The HVAC and duct systems also work together to maintain indoor air quality, regulating temperature and humidity while also removing pollutants from the air you breathe inside your home. Your duct system has a big job, so ensuring that it operates at peak efficiency is a priority.

How to tell if your duct work needs maintenance.

For the most part, your home’s duct work won’t be visible to you. But just because you can’t see a crack or feel a leak doesn’t mean your home won’t give you some helpful signs that some maintenance needs to be done. Be on the lookout for:

  • Higher than normal energy bills.
  • Difficulty maintaining your desired temperature.
  • Uneven heating and cooling.
  • Noticeable dustiness.
  • Whistling or whooshing sounds when your HVAC runs.
  • Dirt, dust, mold or condensation around air vents.

The 4 main reasons why you should seal and insulate your duct system.

You can lose 20-40% of your heating and cooling through air leaks and poor duct insulation. Sealing, insulating or replacing ductwork comes with a number of benefits. These simple fixes can:

  1. Lower your energy bill.
  2. Protect the air you breathe.
  3. Increase your indoor comfort.
  4. Put less wear and tear on your HVAC system.

Plus, TVA EnergyRight offers a $300 rebate on duct system upgrades so that you can enjoy a more energy efficient home at an affordable price.

Air sealing: Your home’s bouncer.

OK, so now that your home’s blanket (insulation) and highway (duct system) are firing on all cylinders, there’s one piece left to round out this efficiency trifecta: air sealing. Air sealing, also sometimes referred to as weatherization, is the process of identifying and sealing any gaps or cracks inside your home or in your home’s exterior where air can sneak in or out. It’s like your home’s very own bouncer, one that blocks the riff raff (outside air and pollutants) from entering so that all the people inside can continue to have a good time!

Sealing these air leaks might seem like an insignificant task, but it’s actually a really important step for improving your home’s overall energy efficiency. Not only does it keep outside air out, but it’s also going to allow your insulation, duct system and HVAC system to all operate more efficiently, increasing their lifespans.

How to tell if your home needs to be air sealed.

It’s a safe bet that pretty much all homes (even brand new builds) could benefit from air sealing. The goal isn’t to have a completely airtight home, but rather to control how air enters and exits your home and to block out pollutants, odors and unwanted outside air. And while there are many places where air sealing seems obvious, like around doors and windows, there are many more where you might not ever think to look. Here’s what to look for:

  • Visible daylight around doors or windows.
  • Visible gaps or cracks around plumbing fixtures and electrical wires.
  • Drafty rooms or cold spots.
  • Difficulty maintaining your desired temperature.
  • Higher than normal energy bills.

The most common places around your home for air leaks.

The trick to mastering air sealing is to focus on the nooks and crannies of your home. A lot of air leaks can be stopped simply with the use of some weatherstripping or caulk. Other more hard-to-see spots could require a professional. Here are the areas of your home most likely to experience air leaks:

  • Around doors and windows.
  • Around pipes and drains.
  • Around electrical sockets and light switches.
  • Around recessed lighting.
  • Floorboards and floor vents.
  • Floors, ceilings and walls.
  • Crawl spaces, attics and basements.
  • Unheated garages. 

The 3 main reasons why you should air seal your home. 

  1. Lowers your energy bill.
  2. Increases your indoor comfort.
  3. Blocks outside pollutants. 
  4. Improves the functionality of your insulation, duct system and HVAC system.

Plus, you can combine our home energy rebate on air sealing with federal tax credits to increase your total savings. 

DIY weatherization

Some spots are easier to air seal than others. Take a stab at DIY weatherization with a few simple air sealing tools, like weatherstripping, door sweeps, caulk, a caulk gun, and some spray foam. Check out our weatherproofing video to get started!

Try these 7 free DIY heat-blocking solutions.

Speaking of DIY tips, here are seven totally free actions you can take to keep your home cooler all summer long.

1. Bump up your thermostat a few degrees when you’re home.

For every degree you set your thermostat above 72° F you can save up to 3% on your energy bill. And if you plan to be away for six or more hours, shoot for 78° F. Just remember, when you’re ready to cool the house back down, only set it to your desired temperature. Dropping the temperature as low as it can go doesn’t make your AC work faster, but it will make your system work harder for longer.

2. Uncover, open and clean air vents.

Contrary to popular belief, closing vents in one room to drive more cool air to another doesn’t work. Closing vents or covering them with rugs or furniture makes your HVAC system work harder and can damage the compressor. 

3. Shut doors and windows.

It sounds too simple, but the best way to keep hot air outside is by shutting doors and windows. Running the AC with even one door or window cracked is like letting money fly right out of that open window.

4. Keep blinds and curtains closed.

You don’t need to turn your house into a dungeon, but it’s definitely worth it to strategically open and close curtains and blinds. During the hottest parts of the day or in the sunniest areas of the home, keep blinds and curtains closed. If you’ll be gone all day, close everything up. 

5. Set ceiling fans to spin counterclockwise.

Take 15 seconds to set your ceiling fans to rotate counterclockwise, creating a cooling downdraft. Remember, though, ceiling fans cool people, not rooms. Empty rooms don’t need running fans. 

6. Take the free DIY Home Energy Assessment.

Take our free online DIY Home Energy Assessment and learn how your home uses (and loses) energy. When you’re done, you’ll get an easy-to-follow report highlighting the exact steps you can take to boost your home’s energy efficiency and start saving money! You’ll also get these great freebies:

  • Free access to our Quality Contractor Network.
  • Free energy-saving kit.
  • Free $10 home improvement store gift card.

Prefer a pro? Book a Home Energy Evaluation with a TVA-certified Home Energy Advisor instead.

7. Beat the heat and download the Keep It Cool Summer Checklist.

Download our Keep It Cool Summer Checklist and see how many items you can complete. Plus, you can get even more heat-blocking tips here

Hire a TVA-vetted contractor and get insulation, duct system and air sealing rebates.

The more energy efficient your home is, the more manageable your energy bills become. To help you reach better energy efficiency sooner, TVA EnergyRight offers a range of money-saving home energy rebates. Getting started is easy. Just head to our Quality Contractor Network to find a TVA-vetted contractor in your area, and they’ll connect you with the right energy upgrades and rebates for your home. Then sit back, relax and enjoy a lower energy bill and a more comfortable home. 

Find a contractor and get your home energy rebates today.

Is it time to upgrade your attic insulation? Here’s how to tell.


Your attic insulation plays a huge role in the overall comfortability of your home. Too hot in the summer? Too cold in the winter? The culprit could be right above your head. Not only does your attic insulation affect your comfort, but it also affects your energy bill. Poorly performing attic insulation impacts the heat gain and heat loss of your home, which will force your HVAC system to run more often, increasing your energy bill. So quality attic insulation is a big deal! And TVA EnergyRight offers a $500 rebate on new attic insulation to turn that big deal into an affordable upgrade. But how do you even know if it’s time to upgrade your attic insulation? Let’s get into it! 

What does attic insulation do?

Insulation protects the conditioned areas in your home from the unconditioned areas. Translation: It prevents outdoor temps from disturbing the temperature you’re enjoying inside as well as keeping the unpleasant temps of, say, a hot attic, from crossing the thermal boundary into your living space. While attic insulation may be the kind of insulation most people are familiar with, you actually have insulation all over your home, including in the walls and your floors. Wall and floor insulation have the same function as attic insulation, and that’s to block the temperatures you don’t like from coming inside and block the temperatures you do like from leaving. 

5 signs it’s time to upgrade your attic insulation.

You don’t have to be an insulation expert to know when it’s time for a refresh. In fact, you’re more likely to feel that it’s time for an upgrade rather than see it.

1. Cold rooms. Do you have rooms you just can’t seem to keep warm? Attic insulation is designed to work hand in hand with your HVAC system and ductwork. If any one of those three systems is failing in some capacity, you’re going to feel it inside your home.

2. Inconsistent temperature and an overactive HVAC system. If you’re starting to notice a trend around temperature control, bingo! In the summer, does it seem like your AC can’t keep up with the rising temps? In the winter, is your heating system constantly running? Or do some rooms get really warm or cold while others remain comfortable? These can be signs it’s time for attic insulation upgrade.

3. Moisture and mold. When moisture collects in your home, mildew and mold form. This can create severe health issues, opening the door for airborne-related illnesses or increasing the symptoms of anyone who already deals with medical conditions like asthma or COPD. Improper installation of your existing insulation or the wrong combination of insulation types will trap moisture that rises from your living space in your attic insulation. Think about it like this: During colder months, warm, humid air in your bathroom will condense on the surface of the ceiling when there isn’t enough attic insulation to keep the ceiling warm. This creates an ideal environment for mold and mildew growth. (Reminder: Run your bathroom exhaust fan during and after hot showers to also help prevent mold and mildew growth.)

4. Pests. This is no one’s preferred cause of failing attic insulation, but it’s a common driver for replacement. If you notice bugs or mice in your living spaces or can hear the sounds of skittering feet in your ceilings or walls, it’s very likely you’ve got a pest problem. Bugs, mice, squirrels, birds, and even larger critters like possums and raccoons, love nothing more than settling into your nice, cozy attic insulation. Not only is this a nuisance, but it’s also dangerous to breathe air contaminated by their droppings.

5. High energy bills. Seasonal fluctuations in your energy bill are normal. But if you’re seeing dramatic or atypical increases in your monthly energy bills (gas or electricity), there could be an issue with your attic insulation, especially if you’re confident your HVAC system and ductwork are in good working condition. Anytime your HVAC system is having to work harder than usual, you’re going to see an increase in your bills. Plus, added wear and tear on an HVAC system or ductwork decreases its overall efficiency and lifespan. (If you’re not sure about the condition of your electric HVAC system, use our $50 rebate toward a tune-up.)

Speak to a professional about your attic insulation.

If you’ve determined your current attic insulation might be the cause of any of the issues we just described, it’s time to talk to a professional. TVA EnergyRight makes that really simple.

Schedule a Home Energy Evaluation.

We partner with local power companies around our seven-state region to offer customers a Home Energy Evaluation. During an evaluation, one of our TVA-certified Home Energy Advisors will visit your home and conduct a full sweep of all things home energy-related, including your attic insulation. 

At the end of the evaluation, they’ll review your home’s top spots for energy efficiency improvements. Even better, they’ll list them in priority order, starting with the upgrades or fixes that will make the biggest difference to your overall energy efficiency, energy bill and indoor comfort. So, if the Home Energy Advisor sees issues with your attic insulation — you’ll find out as soon as they finish your evaluation — they can point you in the direction of trusted members of our Quality Contractor Network who can help.

Use the free Quality Contractor Network.

When it comes to choosing the right type of attic insulation for your home, please consult a professional! But finding a contractor you can trust can be overwhelming, which is why TVA EnergyRight created the Quality Contractor Network. This free resource allows you to search for and connect with licensed and insured contractors in your area who have been vetted by TVA and trained to meet our project quality standards. It doesn’t get much easier than that.

Save $500 on new attic insulation with a TVA EnergyRight rebate.

The more energy efficient your home is, the more manageable your energy bills become. Make improving your home’s energy efficiency more affordable with TVA EnergyRight’s $500 rebate on new attic insulation. (And we offer $0 down, fixed-interest-rate financing if you need a little extra boost.) All of our rebate-eligible home energy upgrades, including attic insulation installation, are completed by members of our Quality Contractor Network, giving you peace of mind that you’ve hired a contractor who knows what they’re doing. Now you can stay cool all summer and warm all winter with new attic insulation. 

Find a contractor and get your $500 attic insulation rebate. 

26 ways to improve your home’s indoor air quality (and save some $$)


Did you know that, on average, Americans spend a whopping 90% of their time indoors, and that the concentrations of some pollutants may be up to five times higher indoors than outdoors?¹ Both short- and long-term exposure to indoor air pollution can lead to health issues like headaches, fatigue, respiratory diseases, heart disease, cognitive deficits and cancer.² 

Ready for some good news? Take a deep breath: Healthy indoor air quality has been associated with enhanced cognitive performance, better decision-making and increased productivity.³ That’s more like it. But how do you know if your home’s indoor air quality could be improved? How do you improve it? And what’s indoor air quality have to do with saving energy and lowering your energy bill? So many questions, and we’ve got answers! Let’s get started.

What makes indoor air unhealthy?

Contaminants such as allergens, carbon monoxide, chemicals, radon, smoke and mold all contribute to poor indoor air quality. There are plenty of potential polluters, too, such as gas ovens and ranges, wood-burning fireplaces, cleaning solutions, chemicals used in certain paints and furnishings, outdated heating and air conditioning systems, damp basements, animal dander and dirty ventilation systems.⁴ And yes, this list also includes dust mites and cockroach droppings.  

Things that can contribute to unhealthy indoor air.

Those issues we just mentioned — headaches, fatigue, trouble breathing, etc. — can all be signs and symptoms of unhealthy indoor air. If you’re not quite sure about the quality of your home’s air, though, take a look at this list of things that could be affecting your indoor air quality:

  • Humidity regularly above 50%
  • Visible mold or mildew
  • The smell of mold or mildew
  • Standing water or excess moisture
  • Air fresheners designed to mask odors
  • Perfumes and other fragranced products
  • New or additional cleaning products
  • Presence of smoking or vaping
  • Indoor pets
  • Chemicals, paints or solvents stored inside
  • Recent pesticide use
  • Outside vehicle exhaust or dust
  • Fuel-burning appliances (gas stoves, water heaters, fireplaces)
  • Blocked air vents
  • An aging or infrequently maintained HVAC system
  • Cracks, gaps or holes around windows and doors, and in ductwork

What you think you know about pet allergies is probably wrong.

In many households the pet dog or cat is as much a part of the family as everyone else, so let’s spend a little extra time talking about our four-legged friends. Not all human family members can tolerate furry friends as easily as others. Why? If you guessed it’s because of their fur, try again. It actually isn’t our pets’ fuzzy exteriors that give allergy sufferers such a hard time. It’s an allergen found in their saliva and dander (dead skin flakes), or in the case of pocket pets (like guinea pigs, hamsters and rabbits), their urine.

But what about hypoallergenic dogs or those hairless cats? No animal is truly “hypoallergenic,” despite what the Internet or a breeder may tell you. When animals shed, whether it’s their skin or fur, urinate, defecate or even just give you a big, sloppy kiss, invisible-to-the-naked-eye proteins are released, causing an allergic reaction.

This doesn’t mean you can’t own a furry pet, though. It just means taking extra steps to boost your home’s indoor air quality so that those flying proteins don’t find a home inside your lungs. Fortunately, the recipe for cleaner, healthier indoor air — whether you’re dealing with pet dander or a damp basement — is simple: adequate ventilation and controls for pollution, temperature and humidity levels.

How to improve air quality at home … and even save some money.

Now it’s time for the fun stuff — how to actually improve your home’s indoor air quality so that you can breathe better and lower your energy bill by using less energy.

Minimize pollutants.

It might sound overly simplistic, but one of the easiest ways to improve air quality is to reduce or eliminate indoor pollutants like carbon monoxide, radon or harsh chemical cleaning products. Try these tactics for decreasing your exposure to indoor pollutants and contaminants:

1. Prevent carbon monoxide leaks by getting your gas appliances, chimneys, and fireplaces or wood stoves checked annually by a professional. Carbon monoxide is a poisonous, odorless and lethal gas that can build up quickly indoors. 

2. Invest in a carbon monoxide detector. Search our EnergyRight Marketplace to explore models ranging from around $15 to $200.

3. Get your home checked for radon, a natural radioactive gas that can build up in your home! According to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), radon is a very serious problem in the state.⁵

4. Avoid cleaning products that contain harmful chemicals and fumes that can linger in the air; glass cleaners, bleach, air fresheners and cleaning sprays are common culprits. 

5. Switch to non-toxic cleaning products, or make your own for a green, cost-effective clean. 

6. Buy an air purifier. Quality, energy efficient models, starting around $150, can capture 99.97% of allergens and particulates and 99.9% of viruses and bacteria in spaces measuring about 350 square feet or less. 

7. Make friends with your vacuum cleaner. Rugs, carpets, upholstered furniture, pillows and mattresses love to trap dust, debris, dander and more. They’re also a haven for dust mites. 

8. Purchase a dehumidifier. The ideal indoor humidity range is 30% to 50%. The more humidity you have inside your home, the greater the chance for excess moisture, mold and mildew, which can make you very sick, especially with prolonged exposure. If you’re not sure what your humidity level is, you can buy an inexpensive hygrometer for about $10. 

Maintain your HVAC system.

Your heating and cooling system accounts for the majority of your home’s monthly energy use (upwards of 50%!), not to mention it’s one of the most expensive components of any home. So, if there’s one area of your home to really stay on top of maintenance, it’s your HVAC system. You’ll get more life out of it, and proper maintenance is going to ensure better indoor air quality and better energy efficiency. Here’s what to do:

9. Change your air filter monthly, or at least once a quarter, to trap dust, dirt and airborne particulates. 

10. Get an HVAC tune-up twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall, to identify and fix any issues.

11. Schedule reminders in your calendar to change your air filter and schedule tune-ups.

12. Use one of our TVA-vetted Quality Contractor Network members to complete your tune-up (electric systems only) and receive a $50 rebate.

Upgrade your HVAC system.

The average lifespan of an HVAC system is 15-20 years, over which time its energy efficiency will decrease. So, if you’re approaching the end of your unit’s functional lifespan, investing in a new one is an excellent way to improve air quality and lower energy costs.

It’s important to remember, too, that your AC doesn’t just cool your home, but it also pulls humidity from the air inside for greater indoor comfort. The size of your home determines what kind of system you need to ensure proper cooling and humidity control. It’s not unusual for customers to have HVAC systems that are incompatible with home size. Work with a professional to make sure your HVAC upgrade is right for your home and your budget. 

That being said, we know a new HVAC system comes with a hefty price tag. So, TVA EnergyRight wants to make it easier for you to lower or better manage the cost of this energy-saving upgrade. Here’s how:

13. Explore our wide range of HVAC system rebates worth up to $1,500.

14. See if you qualify for $0 down, fixed-interest-rate financing.

15. Find out if you’re eligible for Home Uplift, a program we offer in partnership with local power companies to provide up to $10,000 of home energy upgrades to income-qualified participants. (Not available at all local power companies in the TVA region.)

Get your ducts in a row.

The kid sister to your HVAC system, your ductwork plays an integral role in the quality of your indoor air. Excellent ventilation reduces the concentration of indoor pollutants. Like your HVAC system, your duct system needs to be maintained, too, for optimal performance. By taking care of your ductwork, you ensure its longevity and the performance of your HVAC system, improve the quality of your indoor air, and can lower your energy bill. Here’s how: 

16. Install an externally vented exhaust fan in your kitchen and bathrooms to reduce moisture and odors. (Don’t forget to run and clean your exhaust fans, too, so that they’re not accumulating irritating dust.)

17. Get your duct system professionally cleaned to keep clean air flowing, seal cracks or holes in ductwork and increase the efficiency of your HVAC system. Pro tip: Ask for the before and after photos. The dust buildup can be jaw-dropping!

18. Keep your air vents open. Shutting or blocking an air vent in one room to “force” cold or hot air into another doesn’t work. All it does is force your HVAC system to work harder and put unnecessary pressure on your ductwork.

19. Uncover any blocked air vents. If any vents in your home are covered by furniture, drapes or rugs, you’re forcing your duct system and HVAC system to work harder. Over time, that’s going to decrease the lifespan of those systems and drive up your energy bill.

20. Use our $300 duct system rebate to seal, repair, insulate or replace ductwork.

Air seal your home.

A few gaps and cracks around your home may seem insignificant, but the truth is, all those small spaces add up. All together, they’re equivalent to leaving a window open all year long, which is definitely not good for your energy bill and creates a lot of ways for allergens to sneak in. 

Spots near windows and doors may be the easiest to see, but don’t forget about holes hidden in attics, basements and crawl spaces, along with penetrations in ceilings and floors for electrical wires, plumbing, ducts, chimneys, flue pipes and recessed lights. A little-known fact: Sealing these hidden spots in the upper and lower areas of your home is often the greatest opportunity for energy savings.

21. Do DIY weatherization. With a caulk gun, some caulk and a little free time, you can seal up any cracks you find around your windows, inside or outside. Pick up inexpensive weatherstripping or expanding foam to fill in larger gaps around windows and doors, and lay a door sweep at the bottom of any drafty doors. (Dealing with asthma or allergies? Check out these helpful tips.)

22. Use our $300 rebate toward the professional air sealing of your entire home.

Replace your attic insulation.

Out of sight, out of mind, right? Wrong. Like your duct system, your attic insulation is one of those things that most people forget to consider, especially when it comes to its role in improving indoor air quality. But when you think about it, what better place for all sorts of contaminants to linger than deep in the cushy pink fluff that is your attic insulation (or at least some people’s attic insulation). 

When you replace your attic insulation, not only are you removing irritants and allergens, you’re also improving your home’s energy efficiency. A well-insulated attic keeps your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter, saving you money on your monthly heating and cooling bill.

23. Install blow-in insulation. Technically called blow-in cellulose, this type of insulation is made of either fiberglass or recycled materials and is a cost-effective way to reinsulate your attic after you’ve ripped out the old materials.

24. Opt for polyurethane foam spray. This form of insulation is made of antimicrobial foam and prevents moisture, air and animals from entering your home. It’s also very energy efficient, blocking summer sun from entering through the roof and blocking your heating from escaping through the roof in the winter.

25. Use our limited-time-only $500 rebate toward the professional installation of new attic insulation.

Purify with photosynthesis.

Science alert! How do plants purify the air? During photosynthesis, plants convert carbon dioxide into fresh oxygen. Now you can beautify your home and purify your indoor air at the same time.

26. Treat yourself to a plant or two and infuse a breath of fresh air into your home. Try a snake plant, aloe vera, pothos, fiddle-leaf fig or spider plant to start.

Breathe better and get a better energy bill with help from TVA EnergyRight.

Everyone deserves to breathe clean air, especially inside their own home. TVA EnergyRight’s energy-saving and money-saving programs help increase your indoor comfort and air quality. Check out all our home energy rebates so you can save money and breathe easier at

Discover more than $3,000 in home energy rebates.

¹ U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 2023. “What Are the Trends in Indoor Air Quality and Their Effects on Human Health.”

² National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. 2023. “Indoor Air Quality.”

³ American Industrial Hygiene Association. 2020. “The Value of IAQ: A review of the scientific evidence supporting the benefits of investing in better indoor air quality.”

⁴ U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 2023. “Care for Your Air: A Guide to Indoor Air Quality.”

⁵ TN Department of Health. 2023. “Healthy Homes – Radon.”

Spring into savings: the benefits of window replacement for your home


If the spring season gets you excited to spruce up your home, then it’s the perfect time of year to consider window replacement. Not only can new windows give the exterior of your home a boost in curb appeal, but they can also improve your home’s energy efficiency. The more energy efficient your home is, the lower your energy bill. In fact, when single-pane windows are replaced with ENERGY STAR® rated windows, households see an average drop in their energy bill of 13%! That can really add up over a year. Plus, with more or improved natural light, it’ll feel like the interior of your home got a little beauty boost, too. So, let’s explore different energy efficient windows, materials and a few energy-focused features that can transform your home.

Types of energy efficient windows: Double-pane vs. triple-pane

Double-pane and triple-pane refer to the number of panes of glass in a window. So, double-pane windows have two panes of glass and triple-pane windows have three layers of glass. In between each layer, there is often argon gas, which provides a kind of insulation, creating more indoor comfort while taking some of the load off your heating and cooling system.

Today’s windows have come a long way, and double-pane windows are now the norm. So, while triple-pane windows are more expensive and may not be in your budget, that’s ok. You’re still going to get that added energy efficiency with double-pane options. 

You can also use different pane windows in different areas of your home. For instance, triple-pane windows are going to provide better temperature control in north- or east-facing rooms. They’re also a superior choice in more extreme climates (high heat and/or frigid temps) because of their ability to decrease thermal transfer. Another benefit of triple-pane windows that might be worth the extra investment to you is their increased ability to reduce sound compared to double-pane windows.

Window feature options to improve energy efficiency

Once you’ve decided if you’re going with double-pane or triple-pane windows, then you get into some of the really fun stuff — the energy-saving features! Here are some options to consider.

ENERGY STAR certified

Look for the blue ENERGY STAR label or ask your window replacement consultant about their ENERGY STAR certified products. All ENERGY STAR products have been independently certified and verified to perform at levels that meet or exceed energy efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Not only that, ENERGY STAR also provides information on the best products for your climate zone. (Find your climate zone here.)

Low-e coating

If you’ve ever felt the blazing sun heat up a room through a nearby window, then you’ll appreciate the effects of a low-e (short for low emissivity) coating. This type of thin glass coating minimizes heat transfer by reflecting infrared heat, which keeps your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. 

Gas fills

We mentioned earlier that double-pane and triple-pane windows often contain argon gas in the space between the panes. You might also see krypton used. Both types of gas fills improve insulation and reduce heat transfer.

Warm edge spacers 

The seams — or edges — where multiple panes of glass meet are notorious spots for air to easily enter or escape. A warm edge spacer, however, is designed to fit in the area where edges meet in order to reduce heat flow and condensation, improving energy efficiency and preventing mold buildup.

Choose the right window materials for durability and energy efficiency

Now that we’ve covered some important features of energy efficient windows, let’s take a look at window frames.

Vinyl windows

Vinyl windows are a great high-quality, affordable option. If you’re on a budget, go with vinyl. Not only are they low maintenance, but they’re also resistant to warping, fading and cracking, which is going to help you save money in the long run. Plus, they’ll give you an added energy efficiency boost because vinyl is a strong insulator.

Fiberglass windows

Fiberglass windows will definitely set you back more cost-wise than vinyl windows, but they’re also going to provide a more polished look with a healthy dose of added strength. Those extreme climates we mentioned earlier? Fiberglass is the go-to choice there (though it can be used anywhere). Because fiberglass window frames experience almost zero expansion or contraction, there is less risk for seals to fail, improving overall energy efficiency.

Wood windows

If you’re looking for the ultimate customization and aesthetic lift, look no further than wood windows. Also energy efficient and durable, the main draw to wood windows is in their design. You’ll find aluminum elements on the exterior to protect your home and windows from weather, rot and corrosion. But on the inside, go wild making all your interior design dreams come true!

Increase natural light without increasing the temperature

New windows allow you to maximize natural light penetration into your home. Whether you’re in the market for picture windows, bay windows or even sliding glass doors, the increased natural light can totally transform the look and feel of a room. And, as mentioned earlier, window glass technology and materials have advanced so much that adding more natural light doesn’t mean adding more heat from the sun. If you’re feeling extra daring, ENERGY STAR also offers energy efficient skylights.

Keep your home’s curb appeal top-notch

It’s no surprise that spring is the most popular time of year for people to buy and sell homes. New windows are a big plus for potential buyers because of the financial savings that accompany their energy efficiency. Even if there are no moves in sight, window replacement is a great way to increase the value of your home while also lowering your energy bill and reducing your carbon footprint. 

Take advantage of our TVA EnergyRight window replacement rebate

Freshen up your home this spring with new windows. Enjoy more natural light, better energy efficiency and a little extra jingle in your pocket, especially when you take advantage of our window replacement rebate. Get $15 back per window, plus the added peace of mind that comes with using a TVA-vetted contractor from our Quality Contractor Network. No more gaps, cracks, drafts or single-pane windows this year. With new energy efficient windows, you’ll always be on the bright side.

Find a contractor and get your rebate today.

14 ways to get a more energy efficient lawn, garden & home


Temperatures may be rising, but that doesn’t mean your energy bill has to go up too. There are lots of great ways to create a more energy efficient environment inside and outside your home. Keep these tips in mind for a healthier lawn, a happier garden and a cooler home.  

It’s raining energy savings: how to reduce water waste

Overwatering, evaporation, runoff and water hogs (aka the flora that love to soak up as much water as they can) account for a ton of water waste during the spring and summer months. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that as much as 50% of the household water we use outdoors is lost to these factors and others, like wind and inefficient irrigation methods.

Collect rainwater.

Don’t let a good gully washer go to waste. Set up a rain barrel outside, or even just empty watering cans and buckets, to capture those April showers for all your soon-to-arrive May flowers.

Watch how you water.

Ever driven or walked by a house where the street and driveway seem to be getting more water than the plants? That’s money down the literal drain. Whether you have a high-tech irrigation system or prefer a more old-school sprinkler, make sure you’re watering the right things at the right time and in the right amount. 

Set your alarm to water o’clock.

Reduce water evaporation by watering at the coolest times of day, either first thing in the morning or after the sun has gone down.

Make mulch your best friend.

Spread mulch around the base of trees and planting beds to limit water evaporation, reduce erosion and slow the growth of notoriously thirsty weeds.

Plant, grow & mow

Even if your green thumb is more light mint than rich emerald, there are still plenty of opportunities to keep your lawn and garden energy efficient ecosystems.  

Check your plant hardiness zone.

Changing weather patterns and conditions may mean that your plant hardiness zone, the regional area where perennials are most likely to thrive, has changed. By planting according to your zone, not only do your perennials stand a better chance at survival, but you’ll also be growing in a more energy efficient way. Find your zone using the U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zone map.

Try your hand at homegrown food.

What you spend in sweat equity, you make up with delicious seasonal fruits and vegetables and fewer trips to the grocery store. More people these days are also getting creative and resourceful by using their front yards for produce gardens. 

Don’t mow so low.

One of the easiest ways to reduce water waste in your yard is to raise the blade of your lawn mower. When you give your yard a buzz cut or mow too often, the grass dries out more quickly, leaving your lawn longing for a drink. Taller blades of grass provide shade for each other and retain more water. If you use a landscaper, communicate this to them and adjust your mow schedule accordingly, especially as the peak summer months roll in.

Backyard bliss

What’s better than a cookout? Not much! Turn your backyard into an energy-saving springtime hangout. 

Shine some light with LEDs and solar.

Take a walk around the outside of your property and look for any pathway lights, security lights or landscaping lights that you could replace with LED light bulbs or solar-powered alternatives. It’s a quick, easy and affordable way to make your home more energy efficient.

Grill and chill.

Make memories, save energy. Fire up the grill, enjoy some cool summer sides and salads and take in the night sky under LED-powered string lights. No oven means no extra heat inside and less air conditioning for a couple of hours.

Air-dry laundry.

Doing laundry probably doesn’t count as “bliss,” but using your dryer less can lead to some blissful energy reductions! And nothing beats the drying power of midday sun. It’s better for your clothes, sheets and towels, plus you’ll get to enjoy that lovely springtime scent only Mother Nature can manufacture.

Spring clean your way to a better energy bill

Take our free DIY Home Energy Assessment.

Answer questions about your home’s current energy use, and at the end of the assessment, you’ll get an easy-to-read report with energy improvement recommendations specific to your home. Plus, you’ll receive a free energy-saving kit and a $10 home improvement store gift card in the mail. Start saving energy and money when you take the assessment

Get a $50 HVAC tune-up rebate.

We recommend an HVAC tune-up twice a year, before winter and before summer. Knock out your HVAC tune-up now with a $50 rebate. Search our Quality Contractor Network for free to find a TVA-vetted heating and cooling pro.

Clean your filters.

If you can’t remember the last time you changed or cleaned the filter in your washing machine, dryer, dishwasher, refrigerator water dispenser, even your vacuum or pool, then now is the time. Basic maintenance leads to lower energy use (and a lower energy bill), and you’ll also extend the life of your appliances, avoid costly home repairs and enjoy a more comfortable living environment. Check your appliance manuals or find them online for cleaning instructions.

Change the direction of your ceiling fans.

Got 30 seconds? Look for a little switch on your ceiling fans and make sure it’s set to counterclockwise. This creates a downdraft to help you feel cooler without lowering the thermostat. Don’t forget to turn off the fan when you leave the room.

Looking for more energy-saving tips for spring and summer?

Look no further than TVA EnergyRight and your local power company. Explore all of our resources, including helpful info on rebates, financing and where to find TVA-vetted contractors at

10 Earth Day challenges that give the planet (and your wallet) a break


We’re all about keeping sustainability simple and fun here at TVA EnergyRight. So this Earth Day, on April 22, we invite you to take the Earth Day Challenge. We’ve rounded up 10 eco-conscious actions you can take to reduce your environmental footprint. Download the Earth Day Challenge Checklist so you can mark your progress as you go. Read on to learn more about each challenge and why it matters to the planet and your bottom line.

What is Earth Day?

For over 50 years, people around the world have observed Earth Day on April 22. Today, more than a billion people recognize the day as an opportunity to practice new planet-friendly behaviors and to create global, national, state and local change. Ready to join 1,000,000,000 new friends in starting new energy-saving habits? 

10 planet-friendly actions that won’t bust the budget

Reducing your impact on the environment doesn’t have to be expensive or inconvenient. Small, consistent actions over time can make a big difference — not just to the planet, but also to your home energy bill. Saving money and helping the environment — we give that two green thumbs up! Let’s jump into these challenges.

1. Complete the free DIY Home Energy Assessment.

Have you ever wondered about all the factors that make up your monthly energy bill? Your insulation, your HVAC system and even the tiny space between your walls and outlet covers play a role in your home’s total energy use. 

TVA EnergyRight offers a free DIY Home Energy Assessment that lets you walk through your home at your own pace and at the time that’s most convenient for you so you can discover exactly how your home is using or losing energy. You’ll get a full customized report at the end of the assessment highlighting energy-saving improvements you can make to lower your energy bill. Plus, you’ll get a free $10 home improvement store gift card and one of our energy-saving kits in the mail. 

Or, if you’d rather an expert assess your home’s savings potential, schedule a Home Energy Evaluation instead. One of our TVA-certified Home Energy Advisors will get it done.

2. Switch to bar soap.

Next time you’re running low on hand or body soap, consider switching to good ol’ fashioned bar soap. Now, before you object, remember that bar soap has come a long way — this is not your grandma’s soap! Today, there really is something for everyone. 

One of the huge pros of using bar soap is that it typically uses zero plastic packaging. Since plastic is made from oil, a nonrenewable energy source, using less of it is always a good thing. That cuts back on plastic in landfills, which can take up to 400 years to break down! Plus, unlike liquid soap or body wash, bar soap is already shelf-stable, which means it contains fewer chemicals and other possible skin irritants. Now there are even shampoo and conditioner bars.

Worried about germs? Rest easy. Multiple studies have proven that bar soap is not any less hygienic than liquid soap.

3. Give your HVAC some TLC.

A well-maintained HVAC system is a happy HVAC system. Basic maintenance allows your system to run more efficiently, which will save you money on your energy bills. We recommend changing your air filter at least once every three months. And we’ll let you in on a little secret . . . basic air filters work just fine. You don’t need to dish out extra cash for the fancier ones with all the bells and whistles. 

We also recommend getting your HVAC system serviced twice a year — once in the spring and once in the fall. This ensures you go into summer with a properly functioning air conditioner and into winter with your heat ready to roll. So, right now is the perfect time to schedule your spring tune-up, and when you do, you can get a $50 rebate

If your HVAC system is 10 or more years old, struggles to keep up with your home’s demand or you experience higher-than-normal energy bills, it might be time to consider upgrading your system. TVA EnergyRight offers a wide range of money-saving rebates on HVAC system upgrades, including everything from mini-splits to geothermal heat pumps. Check out all our rebates.

4. Plug devices into a power strip, then turn the power strip off when you’re done for the day.

How often do you go around unplugging computers, TVs or phone chargers from the wall when you’re done for the day? Probably never. But those devices and electronics are still using energy, even when they’re off. We call this passive energy use “vampire energy.” 

To stop vampire energy in its tracks, we recommend using a power strip. Everything gets plugged into the power strip instead of directly into the wall. Then, when you’re done for the night, all you have to do is turn off the power strip. 

If you want to take the energy savings one step further, consider a smart power strip. It works just like a traditional power strip, only a smart power strip senses when devices have gone into standby mode or aren’t being used and cuts power to them automatically. 

5. Enroll in TVA’s Green Switch to support solar power in our region.

For as little as $2 a month, you can support solar power in the Tennessee Valley by enrolling in Green Switch. With Green Switch, you can match some or all of your electricity use in $2 blocks (each block equals 200kWh) of solar-powered electricity. That’s enough power to run your refrigerator for six months, or the equivalent of saving the carbon emissions of 20 gallons’ worth of gasoline!

Solar power is a renewable energy source with zero carbon emissions. So, when you support Green Switch, you’re making it possible for all Valley residents to breathe cleaner, fresher air. You can enroll or unenroll in Green Switch whenever you like. 

Want to know if your local power company offers Green Switch? Check the list and get in touch with your local power company to sign up. 

6. Celebrate Meatless Mondays with plant-based meals.

What’s meat got to do with saving energy? A lot, actually! A whopping 75% of Earth’s agricultural land is dedicated to livestock production.1 This industry creates more carbon emissions than the plane, train and automobile industries combined. 

But just skipping beef at one meal every Monday for a year reduces your carbon emissions by the equivalent of driving 348 miles.2 You could power an iPhone for six months with the same amount of energy it takes to produce just one quarter-pound burger!3 So, if you want to shake up your meals, save energy and reduce your grocery bill, give Meatless Mondays a try.

7. Opt out of junk mail.

Tired of opening the mailbox to only find credit card and car insurance offers? Now you can save trees and cut the credit card clutter by opting out of junk mail. Just like adding your phone number to a do not call registry, you can take similar action with your mail. Visit and to add your address.

8. Use the dishwasher instead of washing dishes by hand.

Are you ready to have one of the biggest energy myths of all time busted? Here goes: You do not save energy or water by washing your dishes by hand. Seriously! An ENERGY STAR® dishwasher uses less than four gallons of water per cycle. A running faucet? Four gallons of water every two minutes. That’s not to mention the energy it takes to heat the water and pump it to your home. You don’t need to wait until your dishwasher is full to run it either. Today’s dishwashers are so much more energy efficient that you will still use less water and energy running a half-empty load than washing by hand.  

Think you can handle one more debunked energy myth? Hold onto your hats, pre-rinsers, this one’s for you! The most energy inefficient thing you can do when it comes to getting your dishes clean is to pre-rinse them. Not only does it take water and energy to do the pre-rinse, but then more water and energy are needed for the dishwasher. So, this Earth Day, we challenge you to take your dishes straight from the dinner table to the dishwasher!

9. Switch to garbage bags made from recovered plastic.

This might be hard to believe, but plastic garbage bags are a relatively new addition to the trash disposal scene, gaining popularity only around the 1950s. And unfortunately, the amount of plastic they use really stinks. Plastic garbage bags are typically made from virgin plastic and are single-use. Basically, they’re designed to be used one time before they head to the landfill — a place where it is pretty unlikely they’ll be recycled.

Life is a lot different than it was in the 1950s, and most of us probably aren’t giving up plastic garbage bags for good. So what’s a helpful alternative? Switch to garbage bags made from recovered plastic. A combination of recycled and reclaimed plastic, recovered plastic bags are just as strong as your average plastic garbage bags and usually come in a recyclable box made of recycled cardboard or paperboard. Plus, they’re available at your favorite grocery store or major online retailer.

10. Don’t mow so low.

Overwatering, evaporation, runoff and water hogs (aka the flora that love to soak up as much water as they can) account for a ton of water waste during the spring and summer months. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that as much as 50% of the household water we use outdoors is lost to these factors and others, like wind and inefficient irrigation methods.

One of the easiest ways to reduce water waste in your yard is to raise the blade of your lawn mower. When you give your yard a buzz cut or mow too often, the grass dries out more quickly, leaving your lawn longing for a drink. Taller blades of grass provide shade for each other and retain more water. If you use a landscaper, communicate this to them and adjust your mow schedule accordingly, especially as the peak summer months roll in.

Start taking Earth Day action

Now that you’ve got your challenges, it’s time to take action! Whether you do one or all 10, every energy-saving step you take makes a difference — not just to the planet but to your energy bill, too. Lean on your local power company and TVA EnergyRight for even more tips, resources and programs that can save you energy and money.

Download the Earth Day Challenge Checklist to get started.

15 ways to save energy at home when you’re on Spring Break 

Residential / DIY Home Energy Assessment

Whether your spring break is taking you somewhere warm and toasty or cold and snowy, don’t miss an opportunity to save energy at home while you’re away. A little bit of quick and easy at-home prep before you leave can mean a lower energy bill when you return. And a few extra bucks in your bank account might just be the best vacation souvenir of all. We’ve rounded up 15 ways to power down your home so you can fully relax and unwind this spring break.

Give your HVAC system a break, too.

Hey, maybe your HVAC system would love a little spring break, too? Since heating and cooling your home can make up as much as 55% of your total household electricity use, it’s also a great place to find energy savings. Here are a few things you can do to let your HVAC get some R&R.

1. Set your thermostat to 55° F in the winter or 85° F in the summer. 

The weather in the Southeast is unpredictable. When you leave for spring break it could be 30° F outside or it could be 70° F. It’s anybody’s guess! That being said, adjust your thermostat accordingly. When it’s warmer outside, set your thermostat to 85° F. For every degree above 72° F you can save up to 3% on your energy bill. Now if it’s cold out still, set your thermostat to 55° F. Not only will you save a ton of energy, but you can also rest easy knowing that heat will still flow and your pipes will be protected during a freeze. If you’ve got a smart thermostat, use vacation mode to set it and forget it.

Just remember, when you return home and want to recool or reheat the house, only set it to your desired temperature. Dropping the temperature as low or as high as it can go won’t make your HVAC system work faster, but it will make your system work harder for longer. Not only could that damage your system, but it will also drive up your energy bill. 

2. Unplug space heaters.

If it’s still space heater season in your area by the time spring break rolls around, unplug those guys before you go. Space heaters are energy eaters, and even when they’re off, they’ll continue to use energy just by being plugged into an outlet. In general, whether you’ll be gone for eight hours or eight days, never leave a space heater on in an unoccupied home. It’s a fire hazard.

Keep your energy bill out of hot water. 

3. Drop your water heater thermostat to its lowest set point. 

If no one’s home, nobody needs hot water, right? Go ahead and give yourself some extra savings by turning your water heater thermostat down to its lowest setting. For older electric water heaters, look for a small plate on the front of the machine that unscrews. You’ll find the thermostat dial in there. If you have a newer, more energy efficient model, set the thermostat to vacation mode. For gas water heaters, you’ll want to check your user manual. It’s important to remember, however, that this might be a tip to skip if there’s a chance of freezing temperatures while you’re away.

Keep food fresh and frozen. 

4. Set the refrigerator thermostat to 35° F–38° F and the freezer to 0° F–5° F.

If you’ve never checked your refrigerator and freezer thermostats (or if it’s been awhile), take 15 seconds to give them a quick glance. For optimal energy efficiency, set the refrigerator thermostat to 35° F–38° F and the freezer to 0° F–5° F. Maintain these temperature ranges year-round to keep food fresh, safe to consume and delicious. (Find more energy-saving tips and advice you can use all year.)

Stop vampire energy and give your electronics a breather. 

While we don’t have advice on how to decrease kiddos’ screen time on spring break, we can at least tell you how to give your home a break from all the devices. Here’s the thing: If it’s plugged into an outlet, it’s using energy, even if it’s not technically “on.” We call this “vampire” energy, because it’s sucking up energy — and money — whether the device, machine, etc. is in use or not. So, before you head out of town, do a quick sweep for vampires first! 

5. Unplug all small electronic devices, e.g., de/humidifiers, kitchen gadgets, printers.

6. Unplug all TVs, gaming consoles, entertainment devices, computers and laptops.

7. Unplug all power adapters and charging devices.

8. Unplug the microwave, toaster, coffee maker and appliances with an electronic clock.

Leave only necessary lights on. 

9. Turn off indoor and outdoor lights.

While it’s not a bad idea to leave a light or two on when you’re away, you also don’t need to keep the house lit up like the Fourth of July! Keep a few strategic lights on but turn off the rest. If you have timers or light sensors, you can set those up, too, so that you only have certain lights on, at certain times.

Block out the sun. 

10. Close all curtains, drapes and blinds.

This is another tip that only takes seconds to complete. While you’re going around the house searching for things to unplug, close curtains, drapes and blinds, too. By blocking out heat-producing sunlight, you can maintain a cooler temperature inside. If you’re traveling during warmer months, make sure to check out our tips for saving energy during the toastiest times of the year.

Don’t forget these miscellaneous items.

Keep the energy-saving shutdown going and knock out just a few more remaining things!

11. Turn off ceiling fans and personal fans.

12. Unplug the hot tub heater or drain/winterize hot tub.

13. Turn off or lower the swimming pool heater. (Leave the pump on.)

14. Unplug air conditioners if they’re not needed for humidity control.

15. Unplug landscaping water features if they’re not needed for aquatic life.

Come home to a lower energy bill with the Power Down Before You Go Out of Town Checklist.

Bring a little extra rest and relaxation to your next getaway when you use TVA EnergyRight’s Power Down Before You Go Out of Town Checklist. Enjoy the comfort of knowing you’re saving energy, saving money and maybe even fighting off an energy vampire or two! 

Download the Power Down Before You Go Out of Town Checklist to get started.

7 free and easy fixes to keep your home warmer for less this winter

Residential / DIY Home Energy Assessment

Father sitting on couch with son and daughter, all looking at cell phone screen the daughter is holding

Cold weather can do a number on your winter energy bills, especially when temperatures dip into the teens or lower. But it doesn’t have to. There are some simple —and free — steps you can take to help manage your energy bill during the coldest months of the year. Plus, you can access free home energy education and tips year round when you visit the TVA EnergyRight® website. We’re here to help you stay warm, save energy, and keep your energy bills under control. 

1. Set your thermostat to 68°F or lower.

Skip the next battle in your home’s thermostat war by getting everyone on board with using 68° F as a baseline. Here’s why that matters: Heating and cooling your home makes up about 31% of your total electricity use. So, the more attention you focus on improving your heating system’s energy efficiency, the more energy and money you’ll save. If you leave the house for eight or more hours, move that dial back even further. It could save you upwards of 10% annually. As an added bonus, you might just also enjoy better sleep. Studies show that sleeping in cooler temperatures can improve sleep quality.

2. Leave air vents open and unobstructed.

Pop quiz! True or false: Closing vents in unused rooms saves money on heating. Well, if you guessed true, you’re not alone. But the answer is actually false! This is one of the most common home energy myths we hear. While it seems like shutting off the flow of heat to a room that isn’t being used would save energy and redistribute the heat to other rooms, it actually doesn’t. Here’s what could happen instead:

Damage to your HVAC system

Yikes. Not only can too many closed registers (HVAC lingo for air vents) cause damage to your compressor, but pressure can start to build in your air ducts, which can turn tiny leaks into a big problem. 

Lost energy efficiency

The size of your HVAC system is designed to provide the right amount of heating and cooling to your home. So when air vents get blocked off, your system is still going to produce the same amount of air, only now it doesn’t have as many places to flow. That creates pressure and will cause your system to work harder, meaning more electricity use, and you guessed it, a higher utility bill.

Mold and mildew growth

Closed registers can cause condensation to form in the air duct, and that moisture can become the perfect breeding ground for mold and mildew.

3. Take advantage of the sun.

You know who really loves to help people save energy? Mother Nature herself! On those bright, sunny winter days, pull back the curtains, open the blinds and let the sun pour in. Enjoy the extra light and warmth with no increase to your energy bill. At night, close everything up again for a little added protection from the cold.

4. Weatherstrip doors and windows, DIY style.

A little gap here, a little gap there—if you think those drafty spots around doors and windows aren’t that big of a deal, think again. Even just a 1/8-inch gap around the entryway of a door is equivalent to drilling a five-inch hole through the outside wall! That’s a ton of space for cold air to slip in and your heat (and money) to slip out. 

While caulk and weatherstripping may set you back about $20, you can also try these no-cost tips in a pinch:

  • Plastic grocery bags. Flatten out a plastic garbage bag, then roll it up longways. You may need several depending on the window or draft. Open the window and fill any gaps where insulation is missing or damaged with the grocery bag rolls. Then, shut the window. 
  • Cotton swabs. A rattling window is not only annoying, but it’s usually a sign of a draft. Take an everyday cotton swab and fold it up slightly at the edges, forming a wide u-shape. Place the cotton swab u-shape side up in any gaps where the window meets the base. 
  • Old sheets or towels. Use old sheets, towels or blankets to block drafts at window sills. Roll them up longways for a quick and easy doorstop.

5. Avoid using emergency heat unless it’s a true emergency.

Emergency heat is only for emergencies! It is not for daily use. The only time you should use emergency heat is if your primary heat pump and auxiliary heat (the heat that automatically turns on if the heat pump malfunctions) go out. Emergency heat, which has to be manually turned on and off, costs significantly more than your everyday heat and will drive up your energy bill.

6. Reverse the direction of your ceiling fan.

Yes, ceiling fans can help you feel warmer! Toggle the little switch on your ceiling fans so that they rotate clockwise. This will drive warm air hovering around the ceiling back down into the room and onto your skin. (Remember, ceiling fans cool and warm people, not rooms.) Just don’t forget to set it back to rotate counterclockwise for the spring and summer!

7. Bundle up.

This one is a no-brainer, but it’s so easy to forget! Grab a hoodie, some comfy socks and your favorite blanket, and you can avoid having to crank up the heat to take off the chill. This is the perfect time to slide into your slippers so you can slide into energy savings.

Use home energy rebates when no-cost fixes don’t cut it.

Let’s face it, if your HVAC system goes belly up in the middle of an extreme winter weather event, no amount of no-cost fixes are really going to cut it. But investing in a new heating system, replacing faulty ductwork, or beefing up your home’s insulation isn’t always in the budget. TVA EnergyRight offers a range of money-saving rebates for common home energy upgrades so that improving your home’s energy efficiency can be more affordable. Plus, all rebate-eligible home energy upgrades are completed by a TVA-vetted contractor from our Quality Contractor Network, ensuring your work is backed by TVA quality standards. We’re here to help you make winter weather energy choices that keep you warm

Start exploring rebates today.

Renters, don’t miss these no-cost tips for a lower electricity bill.

Residential / DIY Home Energy Assessment

Renters, this one’s for you! Saving energy at home isn’t just for homeowners. There are lots of simple, easy and totally free things you can do to lower your household utility costs. Because, let’s face it, unless something breaks, it’s pretty unlikely your landlord will proactively invest in costly energy-saving upgrades or repairs, like ENERGY STAR appliances or a new energy efficient HVAC system. Let’s take a look at a home’s biggest electricity users and some no-cost energy-saving hacks that can put a little extra green back in your pocket.

Heating and cooling

Heating and cooling your home accounts for about 32% of your total electricity use.1 These small actions can make a big difference, though.

Keep air vents open and unobstructed.

Your HVAC system is built to provide the proper amount of heating and cooling for a home your size. So, when you close air vents and registers, your system will still produce and distribute the same amount of heat or cool air, but only now with fewer places for that air to go. That increased pressure puts a real strain on your duct work, and it forces your HVAC system to work harder. If you have floor vents, make sure nothing obstructs their air flow, like furniture, rugs or curtains.

Set your thermostat to 68° F to 70° F during the day in the winter.

The Department of Energy estimates you can save up to 10% on your annual heating expenses when you cut the heat back 7-10 degrees for eight or more hours at a stretch — perfect for a day in the office or when you’re out of town. When you’re home, aim for around 68° F to 70° F. For every one degree you lower your thermostat, you can save around 3% more energy.

Pro tip: Returning home after a day at work or a trip? Your impulse might be to set your thermostat way beyond your desired temperature to heat your home quicker. But resist the urge to surge! This does not increase the speed at which your home will warm up, but it will put extra stress on your system and use more energy.

Avoid using emergency heat unless it’s a true emergency.

Emergency heat is only for emergencies! It is not for daily use. The only time you should use emergency heat is if your primary heat pump and auxiliary heat (the heat that automatically turns on if the heat pump malfunctions) go out. Emergency heat, which has to be manually turned on and off, costs significantly more than your everyday heat and will drive up your energy bill.

Water heating

Heating water, like for showers and the dishwasher, makes up 11% of your home’s total electricity use, so anywhere you can scale back in this area is going to make a nice impact on your bill.1

Wash clothes in cold water on the high spin cycle.

Your clothes get just as clean using cold water, so give this tip a whirl. When you wash clothing in hot water, you’ll use more electricity as your water heater works to, well, heat your water! Hot water is also harsh on clothes, which can mean having to replace clothing more often. Set your washing machine to a high spin cycle. This will ensure as much water as possible is spun out of your clothing and they’ll dry faster in the dryer.

Lower your water heater temperature to 120° F.

Most households have the temperature of their electric water heater set too high. By lowering your water heater temperature to 120° F, not only will you save money on your electricity bill (because you need electricity to make hot water) but you can also avoid burning yourself with water that is too hot.

Take shorter showers.

OK, yes, for long shower lovers this might seem impossible. But if you can reduce your shower time to 5-10 minutes, it reduces the amount of energy required to heat enough hot water for a 20-minute dip. Lower your electricity bill and avoid pruney skin — a win-win!

Household appliances: washing machine, dryer, stove & dishwasher

The way you use many household appliances, including your washing machine, dryer, stove and dishwasher, can drive up your electricity bill. These appliances account for 7% of your home’s energy use, and that’s not including the refrigerator or freezer, which we’ll get to in the next section.1 

Don’t overstuff the washing machine or dryer.

Unless you’re one of those rare people who loves to do laundry, then you’re probably trying to knock out this chore as quickly as possible. But, if you’re overstuffing your washing machine and dryer, you’re creating more work for yourself — work that will ultimately lead to greater energy use. 

Clothes need room to move around in the washing machine so that detergent can actually reach everything and your items can go through rinse cycles without trapping dirty water. The same logic applies to your dryer: If a dryer is packed full, there’s no room for warm air to move around and through your clothing. This leads to additional drying cycles, which will not only drive your electricity bill up but will also do a number on your clothing. 

Match pot and pan sizes to burner sizes.

If you’re using a small saucepan, use your smaller burners. Large burners use more energy, and if there’s nothing there to heat, then you’re burning up easy savings.

Skip the dry cycle on your dishwasher.

Instead of using your dishwasher’s drying feature, opt to let your dishes air dry. Because, let’s be honest, even with the dry cycle, some of your dishes still come out wet! Once your dishwasher is done, crack the door and let evaporation work its magic.

Refrigerator & freezer

Just this one appliance makes up 7% of your total household electricity use.1 Keep your food fresh and safe and your electricity bill low with these fridge and freezer energy conservation tips.

Reset your refrigerator temperature to 35-38° F.

Got 60 seconds? Because that’s about all you’ll need to make this free and effective change. Open your refrigerator, look for the temperature gauge and then adjust the temperature to anywhere between 35° F and 38° F. This is the most energy efficient temperature to set your fridge while keeping your food safe. When you’re done with that, head over to the freezer and set its temperature to 0-5° F. 

Keep your fridge full.

High food costs can get in the way of practicing this tip, but when possible, keep your fridge full. Not overstuffed or bursting at the seams, but comfortably full, even if that’s adding a couple of gallon jugs of water. Refrigerated items need enough space for cool air to move around them, but once all your food and drinks are cold, everything works together to maintain the right temperature without too much additional energy from the appliance itself. 

Lighting, TVs & computers

Between lighting, TVs, gaming systems, laptops and all the other devices in our homes, it can all add up to a decent chunk of your electricity bill, about 10%, in fact.1 Fortunately, lowering energy use in this area is as simple as the flip of a switch.

Turn off the lights when you leave the room.

It really is one of the easiest behavioral changes to practice. When you leave a room, flip that light switch on your way out even if you’ll return in a few minutes. Small habit changes like this also reinforce an energy-saving mindset. Soon you’ll be looking for ways to boost your energy efficiency everywhere!

Turn off and unplug devices.

A common energy myth is that if it’s turned off, it’s not using power. But we’re here to bust that myth! Yes, turning off your TV saves more energy than keeping it on all night after you fall asleep. But it’s still using power even when it’s off. We call that kind of energy “vampire energy,” because as long as something is plugged in, it’s sucking energy and increasing your energy bill. You’ll save more energy when you power down electronics and other devices and unplug them from their outlets. Or, if you have multiple things plugged into a power strip or surge protector, flip the switch when you’re done for the day to cut power to everything.

Want to save more energy and money around your home?

Find out all the ways your home is using (or losing) energy with our free DIY Home Energy Assessment. This self-guided assessment asks you questions about your home, and then provides you with an easy-to-read report with customized energy-saving recommendations. Plus, you’ll receive an exclusive energy-saving kit and a $10 home improvement store gift card in the mail. 

Start your DIY Home Energy Assessment now.