25 Ways To Love The Earth At Home
Heating and cooling
1. A/C savings. (Energy hog number one). Each degree you dial your air conditioner above 78 degrees Fahrenheit decreases energy usage and can save the average homeowner about $8 a month per degree. Dial it up when you are not going to be at home—programmable thermostats make that chore easy and can save the average homeowner. According to local representatives, today’s thermostats have built-in energy-saving programs that are designed to cut heating and cooling costs by up to 20 percent.
2. Heating savings. You can save as much as 10 percent on heating costs by keeping your thermostat set at 65 degrees at least eight hours a day. A programmable thermostat, which can be found for as little as $20, can take care of the dialing for you. Going down to 65 degrees when you’re away or asleep means you won’t even feel the sacrifice.
3. Air filters. Check your furnace air filters every time you pay your gas or electricity bill and change them as needed, generally quarterly if you’re using quality filters. The cleaner the filter, the more efficient the HVAC system. A dirty air filter reduces airflow and can create costly obstructions in the unit.
4. Light show. It seems too easy to matter, but turning lights off when you’re not in the room really will reduce energy costs—especially if you’re still using incandescent bulbs. Lighting is your home’s number four energy user.
5. The off switch. Electronics come in at number five. Video game systems use about the same amount of power when they are in sleep mode as they do when they’re in use. So, after you conquer the Wii, turn the system off and then turn the television off, too.
6. Pull the drapes. Direct sunlight can raise room temperature as much as 20 degrees and trigger your A/C. Close the drapes when you’re away so you don’t cool an empty house.
7. Is your refrigerator running? Major appliances, including your refrigerator, are the number two energy hog in your home. Keep the refrigerator clean and airtight for top efficiency to cut down on your electric bill.
8. Clean the condenser coils at least annually.
9. Check door seals to ensure they’re airtight. Test your door’s seal to ensure it’s keeping the cold air in by closing the door on a thin sheet of paper. If the paper slips, your fridge is wasting energy and costing you extra money.
10. Dial it down. Recommended temperature settings are 37 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit for the fridge and five degrees Fahrenheit for the freezer. Stand-alone freezers should be kept at zero degrees Fahrenheit.
11. Think small. Ovens and ranges are appliances and therefore use a lot of energy. Microwave ovens use about 50 percent of the energy ovens and ranges need, and they don’t heat up your kitchen. Slow cookers can cook a whole meal and cost you only about $0.17 worth of electricity.
12. Don’t peek. Opening the oven door to check cooking progress can lower the oven temperature by as much as 25 degrees and increase the temperature in your kitchen. Use the oven light instead to check progress.
13. Regularly defrost manual-defrost refrigerators and freezers.
14. Cool it down.Lower your water heater (energy hog number three) base temperature to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Your shower will still be steamy and you’ll save by heating less water.
15. Stand up and save.Baths generally use more energy than showers because you use less water in the shower, which means you heat less water.
16. A bright idea. You need a clear mirror view in the bathroom, but every bulb that lights your way costs money. You won’t notice the visual difference by replacing 100-watt bulbs with 60-watt bulbs, but you’ll see it in energy savings.
17. An even brighter idea. Compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs use up to 75 percent less energy and last about 10 times longer than an incandescent bulb.
18. Lose a quart. Drain a quart of water from your water heater tank every three months to remove sediment that slows down heat transfer and lowers the efficiency of your heater. Follow your owner’s manual to accomplish this task because the type of tank determines the procedure.
19. Dry spell. The dryer is an appliance (energy hog number two), so keep it in top working order by regularly cleaning the lint screen and being smart about drying your clothes. Dry thick towels with other towels, for instance, rather than with light tee-shirts that will dry more quickly and use less energy. Don’t forget to clean the outdoor dryer vent, too.
20. Cold water wash. The biggest cost of washing clothes comes from the energy required to heat the water. Use cold water for most of your laundry loads.
Around the house
21. Insulate yourself. Having the right amount—and right type—of insulation will help your home retain the work your HVAC system does year-round, but more than half of homes in the United States are not properly insulated. Climate determines both type and amount, so determine your needs, or call in a pro to help.
22. Location. Location. Location. Don’t place lamps, television sets or other heat producing appliances near your thermostat. The thermostat senses the heat causing the air conditioner to run longer than necessary.
23. Be a little shady. Air conditioners with proper shading can be more efficient. Air in a shaded space is cooler than the surrounding air meaning the air conditioner will have an easier time cooling the air. Keep plants, shrubs and other landscaping about two to four feet away from your outdoor unit to ensure adequate airflow.
24. Buyer’s market. When buying new air conditioners, refrigerators or windows, buy energy-efficient versions. They’re usually more expensive, but federal tax credits and competition are helping bring prices down. You’ll save in the long-term.
25. Check all corners. An energy auditor, maybe even your local power company, has expert and comprehensive advice on energy efficiency.