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7 Easy Steps to Energy Efficiency

Simple steps to lower your utility bills and ease the pressure on Mother Earth.

Upgrade to a Programmable Thermostat

    Keeping your home warm in the winter, or cool in the summer, requires a lot of energy. Control these costs with an energy-saving programmable thermostat. This thermostat is programmed by time and temp so that your heating or central air-conditioning is on when you want it to be and at the temperature you choose.
    About $65 at local home improvement centers, it will pay for itself in heating and cooling savings in a year or less if you use all its features.

Change the Filter

    Change the air filter on your heating/air conditioning system. When the filter gets dusty or dirty or clogged, the system has to work harder to pull air through it. The harder it works, the longer it stays on and the more it costs.

Green Up Your Appliances

    Appliance use is about 18 percent of a typical home’s total energy bill.
    If any of your appliances are more than 10 years old, consider replacing them with energy-efficient models with the Energy Star logo. Energy Star-qualified appliances use 10 to 50 percent less energy and water than standard models.
    Have a new energy-efficient refrigerator? Now think of what you put in it. Buying local cuts down on the fossil fuels burned to get the food to you, while organic foods are produced without potentially harmful pesticides and fertilizers.
    Remember to turn off things like printers, computers and charging units when not in use. If you see a blue, green or red light, it’s using electricity — and it adds up fast.

Conserve Water

    Put an aerator on all household faucets and cut your annual water consumption by 50 percent. 
    Install a low-flow toilet. They use only 1.6 gallons per flush, compared to 3.5 gallons for models before 1994. If you have an older model, adjust your float valve to admit less water into the toilet’s tank.
    Use a broom instead of the garden hose to clean your driveway and save up to 80 gallons of water. Turn the water off when you brush your teeth and save 4.5 gallons each time.

Load Up an Energy-Efficient Dishwasher

    Efficient use of any dishwasher saves energy and water.
    Don’t run a half-filled dishwasher. Using the dishwasher saves water and energy over hand washing only if it’s at least three-quarters full.
    Don’t use the dishwasher’s heated dry feature. Instead, let the dishes air-dry.
    Rinsing dishes before putting them in the dishwasher can waste up to 20 gallons of water per load. With most new dishwashers, rinsing is no longer necessary. A grinder in the exhaust drain cuts up any residual food particles to prevent clogs, and today’s detergents are designed to do all that cleaning. Even if your dishes are going to sit in the machine overnight because you don’t have a full load, the dishwasher’s rinse feature uses far less water than hand rinsing.

Switch to Energy-Efficient Bulbs

    Compact fluorescent light bulbs use 66 percent less energy than a standard incandescent bulb and last up to 10 times longer. Replacing a 100-watt incandescent bulb with a 32-watt CFL can save $30 in energy costs over the life of the bulb. It won’t be long before you haven’t a choice. Federal legislation this year beginning with the 100-watt bulb will strictly limit the sale of the old familiar incandescent after September.

Choose Healthy Paint

    Conventional paints contain solvents, toxic metals and volatile organic compounds that can cause smog, ozone pollution and indoor air quality problems, according to the EPA. You’ll recognize unhealthy paint by the strong odor that can linger for days. Opt for zero- or low-VOC paint, made by most major paint manufacturers. You’ll barely smell it even when wet.