1. Lights Out … Or Not
Turn off the lights when not in use— except if the bulbs are CFLs. Switching off a CFL bulb when you’ll switch it back on in less than fifteen minutes actually uses more energy. Bonus tip: turning off incandescent and LED lights when not in the room will not only reduce your bill, it will extend the bulb’s operating life.
2. Stop the Attack of Energy Vampires
Plug electronics—TVs, computers, radios—into a power strip and switch it off when not in use. Three-quarters of electricity used by home electronics happens while they’re turned off. Leave them plugged in when not in use and these “energy vampires” will cost you an extra $100 per year.
3. Fill Up Your Fridge
Zero in on your refrigerator’s efficiency; it uses more energy than all of your kitchen appliances put together. Clean the coils twice per year to improve efficiency by up to 50 percent. Keep the thermostat between 35 and 38 degrees, and keep it filled to boost efficiency. No need for that much food? Use pitchers of water in the fridge or bags of ice in the freezer to take up room.
4. Slow Down Dinner
Use your slow cooker more often. It’s 75 percent more efficient than a conventional oven. And, you’ll spend less time in the kitchen. Win-win!
5. Give Your Laundry the Cold Shoulder
Launder everything in cold water. Ninety—yes, ninety—percent of energy used by washing machines goes towards heating the water. Plus, cold water is proven to clean just as effectively and will help your clothes last longer.
6. Soak it Up
Place a dry towel into your dryer for the first 15 minutes of the cycle to absorb moisture and help clothes dry 10 percent faster. If you do seven loads per week, this could save you nearly $30 per year. Or, better yet, hang clothes to dry. You can save $45 per year by hanging four of eight loads each week.
7. Ask for a Break
Ask your utility company about a “load management” or “cycling” program, which uses a radio signal to shut down air conditioners and water heaters during peak demand times in return for financial incentives like bill credits or rebates.