The same holds true for your other home electronics. Using a
surge suppressor, or simply unplugging them when not in use,
will lower your usage. Potential savings: a few dollars a year.
Who left the lights on?
Easily one of the easiest ways to reduce your energy footprint is to simply replace those watt-hogging 60-watt incandescent bulbs with some energy-efficient compact fluorescents.
A 13-watt compact fluorescent light bulb uses two-thirds less
energy while lasting on average up to 10 times longer. In
addition, installing automatic timers in those lesser-used areas
of the house—laundry rooms, basements and garages—will
minimize the lost pennies when you forget to switch off the
lights. Potential savings equal $1 to $2 per month.
Drip, drip, drip
By now, it should be becoming clear—the easiest way to
save on your energy costs is to simply get in the habit of
using less. Low flow fixtures on your showers, faucets and
toilets are easy to install—not to mention inexpensive—
upgrades that will save you a bundle, as much as 70 percent
less usage according to some industry estimates. In addition,
look to switch to a tankless water heater that only heats
water when needed. Take a bath or a cold shower, believe me,
they’re shorter. And when you brush your teeth, do you really
need to leave the tap running? Go back to washing the dishes
by hand, it’s cheaper and can double as a family powwow.
Finally, try doing your laundry late at night or early in the
morning during off peak hours, in cold water. Potential
savings can total 50 percent or more in your usage.
Heed your furnace
While proper maintenance of your furnace is best left to
the experts, a little bit of preventive care in between cleanings
can do wonders for its efficiency. Manufacturers recommend
changing filters on your furnace quarterly or even monthly.
Were you born in a barn?
Remember your mother’s admonition. Closing exterior
doors quickly and completely when entering or leaving the
house prevents energy transfer. Likewise, closing fireplace
dampers when not in use will reduce the chances for heat
loss. Drawing your curtains, especially during the summer
months, will keep the house cooler in the mornings and save
on air conditioning. Finally, try deciding what you want for
that late night snack before you get to the refrigerator.
Do some gardening
Did you know that well-planned landscaping will not only
add to your property’s overall value, it can also help you to
save on your monthly utility costs? Strategically placed trees
can be of tremendous benefit to the heating and cooling of
your house. According to the U.S. Department of Energy,
properly placed deciduous trees can save you as much as 25
percent on your cooling costs when correctly placed to the
south and west sides of the house, providing shade to hard
surfaces like driveways and patios during the summer months.
Planting evergreens on the north side will shield against the
harsher winter winds. Of course, trees take time to grow, so in
the meantime, try installing an awning on the front and back
of your house to achieve some of the same effects.
© ISTOCKPHOTO.COM/RICHARD CLARK; © ISTOCKPHOTO.COM/OLEKSANDR SHEVCHENKO
All in all, conservation doesn’t require huge expenditures,
or oodles of time. Once you’ve mastered the habits of saving,
small steps can definitely bring about some significant