Monday, April 16, 2012

Top 10 Energy-Saving Tips

Let's do our part to save the earth!

Article taken off

Top 10 Energy-Saving Tips

Being Eco-conscious doesn't have to mean outfitting your home with pricey solar panels. Many key improvements can be made for cheap — or even free.

1. Monitor Your Energy Use
You can reduce your monthly electric expenses — typically by as much as 15 percent, according to a recent IBM study — by knowing how much power you’re actually using and where you can most effectively cut back. Add a plug load monitor ($25 and up) to any outlet where you plug in an appliance or device; the monitor will display how much energy the device is consuming and when, helping you decide which ones should be turned off and at what time. Some models are programmable, to cut power automatically.

2. Install Dimmer Switches
Not yet ready to say buh-bye to incandescent bulbs? Then consider that simply dimming a light by 10 percent more than doubles the bulb's life — and switches only cost about $10.

3. Add a Motion Sensor
Add motion sensor to your outdoor lighting fixtures. One of these little helpers (around $20 each) turns off the light when nobody's present. The gizmos are great for the seldom-used areas of your home, like the basement and guest room.

4. Set a Programmable Thermostat
This handy item — widely available for about $50 — can help you save almost $200 a year by turning down the heat at certain times of day or night. For every degree you lower your thermostat for an eight-hour period, you cut energy use by about 1 percent. So, if you set it back 10 degrees overnight, you can save 10 percent.

5. Buy an Insulating "Blanket"
Get your hot-water heater its own blankie! This $20 investment can lower your water-heating costs by 9 percent, says the U.S. Department of Energy.

6. Install an Energy Star-Rated Ceiling Fan
Prices start at just $30. In cooler months, run the fan in a clockwise direction to push warm air down from the ceiling, reducing HVAC load by as much as 10 percent. And in the summer, reverse the motion to circulate cool air — and make the temperature feel up to eight degrees cooler!

7. Dodge the Draft
Here's how: Install permanent weather stripping around your windows and doors to seal in heat and keep out chilly gusts. You can buy about 15 feet of weather stripping for less than $10 — saving you up to 15 percent in heating and cooling costs.

8. Install Insulating Window Treatments
Cellular and honeycomb shades will help you reduce both heat loss (up to 86 percent) and gain (up to 80 percent) in one fell swoop. And they won't break the bank: These shades start at roughly $25 a window.

9. Replace the Aerator on Your Faucet
For just $5, an efficient aerator will reduce flow from the usual 2.2 gallons per minute (gpm) to a thrifty 1.5 gpm — a big return on a small investment and a good way to conserve an increasingly precious resource.

10. Keep Dirt and Toxins Out
A simple move to make: placing a mat ($10 and up) at the front and back doors of your home can cut the amount of pesticide residue tracked inside by 25 percent.