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Energy Efficiency Tips to Cut Costs and Preserve the Earth

Most families spend well over $1,500 each year on utility bills, but a significant amount of that energy is wasted. The electricity generated by fossil fuels for a one home in a year emits more carbon dioxide into the air than two average cars. Energy efficiency improvements can make your home more comfortable and pay off financially in the long term. Dramatically lower utility bills are more than worth the cost of energy-efficient appliances and other eco-upgrades in your home. These improvements can also yield a significant return on your investment if and when you sell your home.

Instant Energy Efficiency Tips

Implementing these low-cost and no-cost ideas in your home will help you save energy immediately—and save money on your next utility bill.

  • Install a programmable thermostat. This will help you keep your house comfortably warm in the winter and comfortably cool in the summer without resorting to unnecessary extremes.
  • Replace standard (incandescent) light bulbs and fixtures with compact or standard fluorescent lamps and light bulbs with the Energy Star label.
  • Air-dry your clean dishes instead of using your dishwasher’s heated drying cycle.
  • Turn off your computer and computer monitor when you are not using them.
  • Plug home electronics, like TVs and DVD players, into power strips. When you are not using the electronics, turn off the power strips. TVs and DVD players in "standby" modes still use several watts of power.
  • Lower your hot water heater’s thermostat to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Set your thermostat as low as is comfortable in the winter and as high as is comfortable in the summer.
  • Clean or replace filters on furnaces once a month or as needed.
  • Clear warm-air registers, baseboard heaters, and radiators as needed. Ensure they are not blocked by furniture, carpeting, or drapery.
  • Take brief showers instead of baths.
  • Wash only full loads of dishes in your dishwasher and clothes in your washing machine—do not run the cycle for a load that is only partially
  • full.
  • Consider replacing old, wasteful appliances and products with those that have the Energy Star label. In order to be labeled with Energy Star, products must meet strict energy-efficiency guidelines established by the United States Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Perform an Energy Audit

To pinpoint energy-wasting culprits in your home, follow these energy-auditing tips:

  • Inspect the insulation levels in your basement and exterior walls, attic ceilings, crawl spaces, and floors.
  • Look out for cracks or holes around your ceilings, walls, windows, plumbing and light fixtures, doors, electrical outlets, and switches. These cracks and holes can leak air out of or into your home.
  • Ensure all fireplace dampers are closed when you do not have a fire in the fireplace.
  • Review the owner’s manuals for your heating and cooling systems and appliances to determine their maintenance requirements. Follow these recommendations as needed.
  • Evaluate your household’s lighting needs and usage patterns. Focus especially on high-traffic areas, such as the kitchen, living room, and also frequently used outside lighting. Lighting controls like occupancy dimmers, sensors, and timers can reduce unnecessary energy usage.

Energy Efficiency Tips To Cut Costs And Preserve The Earth,
part of our article series in the Energy Efficiency category.
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