May 11, 2012

Easy ways to trim your energy use.

Lower your energy use with these 10 easy to do action items: 

1. Go fluorescent. They no longer buzz, flicker or turn faces blue -- and they represent one of the brightest ideas yet for cooling down the atmosphere and your electric bill. Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) approximate the glow of incandescent bulbs and use 75% less energy. If every U.S. household replaced just one incandescent bulb with a compact fluorescent, the emissions savings would be comparable to taking three million cars off the road for a year. Fluorescent lights contain small amounts of mercury. Most Home Depot store recycle them. 

2. Turn appliances off.  Appliances that include a clock or operate by a remote, as well as chargers are all sucking electricity even when you're not using them. Of the total energy used to run home electronics, 40% is consumed when those appliances are turned off. If you don't want to keep rebooting your PC, you can reduce the juice to it by putting both the monitor and the computer itself in sleep mode when they're not in use which uses 95% less electricity than those running on full power.  To get all your devices on the same schedule, plug them into a Smart Strip Power Strip (at It senses when your computer or TV is asleep and electronically unplugs devices that depend on them, such as a printer or DVD player, until the controlling device wakes up.

3. Insulate your water heater. The newest electric water heaters have plenty of insulation. But if you have one built before 2004, wrap it in an insulating jacket (Thermwell, $20 to $30 at and save 10% -- about $30 -- annually on your water-heating bill.

4. Service the furnace. Have your furnace tuned every two years and you'll save about 1,250 pounds of carbon dioxide and 10% on your heating bills.

5. Turn down the heat. For every degree you lower your home's temperature during the heating season, subtract 5% from your bill, according to the Alliance to Save Energy. An Energy Star programmable thermostat ($70 at saves more than twice its price within a year.

6. Set the washer to cold. Use cold water to wash your clothes and save 50% of the energy you would otherwise use for hot water. Set your dryer on the moisture sensor, not the timer, and cut energy use by 15%.

7. Dim the lights. Install light dimmers, which cut electricity use by the same percentage that they lower the light.

8. Stop drafts. As your father would say, don't heat the great outdoors. Put weatherstrip around the frames of your front and back doors and save about $30 per year in energy costs.

9. Lower your water temperature. Set your water heater to 120 degrees F. If your heater does not have a temperature gauge, dial down until the water feels hot, not scalding. 

10. Use timers on lights. Install occupancy sensors or timers on lights in areas you use only occasionally and for exterior lights.. The devices start at $25 per switch at Anyone with basic wiring skills can install them.