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November/December 2010

10 Easiest Ways
to Cut Your Energy Use in Half

 

1. Turn Off the Lights
Save 2%*

Efficiency Poster

Be mindful about shutting lights off when you leave a room. If you have a forgetful family member or roommate, paste reminders on the switchplates or consider installing motion-detector switches.

ADVANCED: Replace your bulbs with CFLs or LEDs.

 

2. Install Ceiling Fans
Save 19%

Install Energy Star ceiling fans in the rooms you use most often. They'll help keep you cool in the summer while your AC works less or not at all. In the winter, switch them to turn clockwise to circulate the warm air rising up to the ceiling back down into the room.

ADVANCED: Go with a white roof or install a greenroof, which will prevent heat loss through the roof in winter and cool your home down in the summer.

 

3. Show Your Fridge Some Love
Save 4%

The refrigerator is one of the biggest energy-users in your home, and if it was built before 1993, it's a huge energy hog. Clean the coils of your fridge every six months to keep it running efficiently, and take up unused space with jugs of water, which hold in the cold. Eliminate a second refrigerator, if you have one.

 

4. Wash Clothes in Cold, Let Them Air Dry
Save 9%
Washing clothes in cold water gets them just as clean as hot, and cuts your washer’s energy use in half. Drying your clothes on an outdoor line or indoor rack can save around $100 in energy costs every year.

ADVANCED: Water and energy use are intertwined: producing energy uses water, and providing clean drinking water requires energy. Take steps to conserve water everywhere in your home.

 

5. Upgrade Appliances
Save 12+%
Appliances use 20 percent of the energy in the average US home. When it’s time to buy new appliances, look for the most efficient Energy Star model you can find. The biggest energy hogs in a home are usually the refrigerator (particularly if it was built before 1993) and clothes dryer.

 

6. Give Your Water Heater a Blanket
Save 1 - 3%
Adding an insulating cover to your water heater can reduce heat loss by 24-45 percent. Also, turn your water heater down by ten degrees, if possible. If half of US households did so, it would prevent 239 tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

ADVANCED: Upgrade to a tankless or solar water heater, and save 14% off your energy bill.

 

7. Plug Air Leaks
Save 12%
Replacing windows is often the least cost-effective step you can take to save energy, so seal air leaks around doors and windows instead with caulk and weatherstripping. For tips on sealing and refurbishing old wood windows, see our article. Also, consider putting up insulating curtains, pasting low-e film to the window glass, and installing storm windows or plastic window films to further cut down on heat loss in winter.

ADVANCED: Get a RESNET or Home Performance with Energy Star audit to help pinpoint your biggest energy losses.

 

8. Use Your Programmable Thermostat
Save 10%
Nearly half of US homes already have a programmable thermostat. Dig out that owner’s manual and learn how to use yours to maximize the efficiency of your heating and cooling systems. Program your thermostat to turn itself down or off when you’re sleeping or are at work or school.

ADVANCED: Get a RESNET or Home Performance with Energy Star audit to help pinpoint your biggest energy losses.

 

9. Air Dry Dishes
Save 3%
Using your dishwasher instead of washing dishes by hand can save water, but if you let the drying cycle run, you’re wasting energy and money. Skip the drying cycle and let your dishes air dry. Newer, more effective and efficient dishwashers allow you to skip the step of pre-rinsing your dishes before you load them in the dishwasher.

ADVANCED: Run your dishwasher (and your clothes washer, for that matter) at night, during off-peak hours. It’s our country’s peak demand that determines the expansion of dirty coal-fired power plants.

 

10. "Eliminate Phantom Load"
Save 5%
Many electronics still suck energy even when they’re turned off--such as powering that little clock on your microwave when it’s not in use. Unplug your electronics or plug them into a power strip and switch it off to save on this “phantom load.”

ADVANCED: Use a Kill-A-Watt meter to measure the energy use of appliances and gadgets, even when they’re turned off. You can also keep track of your home’s entire energy use with a whole-house energy monitor.

 

* Approximate energy savings based on the average home using 11,000 kWh electricity and 19,000 cubic feet of natural gas per year.

 

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