The Best Ways to Conserve Energyby Hannah Wickford
Going green is not only the right thing to do for the environment, it's good for your wallet. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that the average electric bill for Americans is more than $100 per month. Those costs can zoom in the warmer months when you turn on the air conditioning or in the cooler months if you use electric heat.
Turn It Off
Although your mother may have taught you to turn off the lights when you leave a room, she probably didn't tell you to unplug your gadgets and gizmos. Many appliances, particularly those with a built-in clock, continue to draw energy even after you turn them off. The Worldwatch Institute recommends unplugging appliances when you are not using them or investing in a smart power strip that stops the trickle of energy known as "phantom" or "vampire" energy.
Switching to an Energy Star-rated compact fluorescent light bulb is good for the environment and good for your wallet. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy report that each traditional incandescent light bulb that you replace with a CFL will use 75 percent less energy, produce 75 percent less heat and save you roughly $40 in electricity costs over the life of the bulb. CFL bulbs contain trace amounts of mercury, however, so recycle these when they burn out instead of tossing them in the trash.
Update Your Refrigerator
Treehugger.com reports that the average refrigerator consumes roughly 8 percent of your household's energy use. If your budget doesn't include a new Energy Star-rated refrigerator, make sure that your current one isn't leaking cold air. Check all of the gaskets and seals around the door and replace them if they feel stiff or are cracked. Keep your refrigerator cool. It takes less energy to keep a full refrigerator cold than a nearly empty one. If you have a bit of the eclectic in you, consider insulating your refrigerator with corkboard or carpet to save on energy.
Conserve energy by using cold water whenever possible. Run your washing machine and dishwasher only when full. Use the cold water cycles, let your dishes air dry instead of using the heated dry cycle on your dishwasher and take shorter showers. Installing a low-flow shower head will help to cut down on the amount of hot you use when taking a shower. Consumer Reports recommends insulating your hot water pipes and turning down the hot water heating to between 120 and 130 degrees F can save you up to 5 percent on your energy bills.
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