Monday, October 5, 2009

Greening Your Life: Saving Energy--Part I

Saving energy around your home can be as easy as picking up a book, or as large as replacing an older appliance with a new energy efficient model.

Here are a few simple things you can do to save energy, and cash, in your home.

  • Keep your refrigerator full. Food retains cold better than air does, so a near-empty fridge is working much harder to cool its contents. Your refrigerator should be set close to 37 degrees Fahrenheit and your freezer set to three degrees Farenheit to conserve energy.
  • Wrap your water heater in an insulating jacket if it is located in an unheated space such as a basement or garage.
  • Use your microwave. Cooking and reheating with a microwave is faster and more efficient than using the stove top or oven, thus reducing up to 7- percent of energy use.
  • Use a toaster oven for small jobs. It will use a third to half as much energy as a full-size oven.
  • Lower your thermostat a few degrees in the winter. An ideal temperature for a home is 68 degrees. If you leave the house for a prolonged period of time in the winter, turn the thermostat down more. This can save you between $10 and $30 per month on your heating bill.
  • Close your curtains or window shades during the night to keep in heat and open them during the day to let the sun warm your room and reduce heating needs. Replace your incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL's). The CLF light bulbs will save you up to 75% of lighting costs and will save the environment from approximately 1,300 pounds of carbon dioxide over the course of its lifetime.
  • If you have a "no heat" dry setting on your dishwasher, use it. Heat drying is not necessary after a hot-wash cycle. If you don't have an air-drying setting on your model, turn the dishwasher off after the final rinse and prop the door open, allowing your dishes to air-dry.
  • Install dimmer switches where dimmed lighting makes sense, like the dining room and hallways. Dimming a light by 25 percent saves an equal percentage of energy.
  • Unplug electronics and battery chargers when you are not using them. Even when these items are turned off, they still draw electricity. This is called vampire power, and all your small households electronics can draw as much power as your refrigerator.
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