Energy takes a huge bite out of household budgets, with the typical family spending about $2200 each year on utility bills. But today is the nation's first Energy Efficiency Day, the perfect opportunity to assess your energy use and start saving.
Because saving energy and money go hand in hand, the non-profit Consumer Federation of America came up with 12 simple ways to save both. Join thousands of organizations, companies, and individuals in a nationwide effort to become more energy independent, improve the environment, and save households hundreds of dollars in unnecessary energy costs by following these top tips:
1. AIR DRY: Air dry dishes instead of using your dishwasher’s drying cycle.
2. TURN IT OFF: Use timers and motion detectors to turn off lights and be sure to unplug TV entertainment systems when travelling (use power strips for easy on/off switching) and don’t leave your computer and monitor on needlessly.
3. DON'T GET BURNED WITH HOT WATER: Lower the thermostat on your water heater to 120F. Water heaters are the second highest source of energy use in the home.
4. FILL IT UP, PLEASE: Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes.
5. KEEP ‘EM CLEAN: Check furnace, heat pump, and AC filters once a month and replace them regularly. A dirty air filter can increase your energy costs and cause problems with your equipment.
6. GET A CHECK UP: Get your heating system checked up once a year. A licensed professional will make sure that your system is operating efficiently and safely. Checkups can identify problems early.
7. STOP THE BREEZE: Caulk and weather-strip around drafty doors and windows.
8. GET AN AUDIT: Your utility company may offer free energy audits that can identify expensive energy losses in your basement, unfinished rooms, attics and leaky ductwork. Sealing your ducts can give big savings on energy bills and help keep you from turning up the thermostat because of one cold room.
9. TAKE A WALK: Circle your home with an easy-to-use spray foam insulation and look for openings and gaps around pipes, chimneys, lights, windows and basement brick and cement work.
10. GET WITH THE PROGRAM: Install a programmable thermostat which automatically adjusts the temperature during the day or at night, keeping you from forgetting as you dash off to work. A programmable thermostat can save you up to $100 a year.
11. STAY BRIGHT: As “old-school” incandescent light bulbs burn out, replace them with new, light emitting diode bulbs (LEDs) and save about $90 a year in electricity costs. You pay more up-front, but shop around, prices are dropping. They use up to 25% less energy, can last up to twelve times longer and light like the old fashioned ones do.
12. BE A STAR: Look for products and appliances that have earned the ENERGY STAR label. They meet strict new energy efficiency criteria that will reduce your utility bills and help the environment. ENERGY STAR clothes washers, for example, use approximately 40% less water and 25% less energy for washing than standard models.