We all know that switching to Energy Star appliances can help save you serious money in the long run. NAMELY your refrigerators made before 1993- major energy guzzlers. But here are some less publicized methods that I found particularly helpful.
Something that can save you almost twice as much as new Energy Star appliances is installing a ceiling fan! Cutting down on A/C use in the summer and heat use in the winter (switch your fan to run clockwise and it'll bring the rising heat down), it's one of the best ways to conserve efficiently.
If you DO use your thermostat, remember to program it to shut off when you are asleep or at work.
Giving your water heater a "blanket" is also an easy fix. Any insulating cover will help. Find that your water's getting unnecessarily HOT?! Then reduce it's temp by 10 degrees. This is an act that, if only half of U.S. households followed in suit, would prevent 239 TONS of greenhouse gas emissions!
Contrary to popular belief, getting new windows is not the most efficient method of saving money. It's actually often the least. Simply seal the air leaks in the windows you've already got. Insulating curtains are great, and low-e film on your window glass will help you stay toasty with less effort.
These two, while not possible for everyone, can also save you a bundle.
If you have the room, and no outdoor pets:
Washing your clothes on cold and hanging the laundry on a line outside to dry vs. using the dryer is very effective. Probably quite relaxing too. As is skipping the dry cycle on your dishwasher (should it be new and fancy enough to give you that option. The rest of us can sit on a stool and try to listen for when it sounds like it's begun drying. Hoping to not open it up on the final rinse. Let the games begin!)
Always run your clothes washer and dishwasher at night, during off peak hours. The amount of energy we consume during peak hours determines the expansion of dirty coal-fired power plants.
Finally... and this is my favorite. So easy!!! Take all of your appliances that stay plugged in, and plug them into a power strip. Turn that power strip on when you need them, and off when you're done. That way when you go to bed or leave the house, it's not running menial things that you THINK aren't using up energy. Like the clock on your microwave. Who needs it?
That's what cell phones are for... and the handy sundial you made while patiently listening for the dishwasher to change gears.
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