Upgrade your AC system, trade in your old refrigerator, replace your roof - there's lots of advice out there about how to save energy in your home. However, many suggestions require costly updates to appliances you already own. While investing in newer, more efficient technology can pay off in the long run, you don’t always have to spend green to save green. Consider these  easy energy-saving adjustments you can make without breaking the bank.

Cooling/heating

According to the EPA's Energy Star program, heating and air conditioning account for 46% of the average household's annual utility bill, not to mention, thousands of kilowatt-hours in expended electricity each year. Here’s how you can keep your home comfortable while reducing its energy intake.

  • Protect your windows with dark curtains or screens during the summer. This will prevent stray sun rays from sneaking in and heating up your home. During the winter, they will keep the heat in.
  • Choose ceiling fans over AC. A fan uses about the same amount of electricity as one standard light bulb.
  • Plant a tree that casts shade on your windows to keep your house cool. But before you head to the nursery, review our smart landscaping tips!
  • Cover tile floors with rugs to keep your floors warm during the winter.

Lighting

Ensure that your home lighting isn't using more electricity than you need.

  • Switch to CFL bulbs. Compact fluorescent light bulbs are extremely efficient. Replacing a halogen bulb with a CFL can save you $40 in energy costs over its lifetime.
  • Try lamp timers to ensure your lights are turned off at night and when you're not home.
  • Decorate with light-colored lampshades to brighten your room with fewer bulbs.

Appliances

Washers, dryers, ovens and refrigerators make our lives easier, but if you're not careful, these machines come at a major cost to the environment. Even if you're already equipped with Energy Star certified appliances, try these tricks to cut corners on energy consumption.

  • Use the small burner for small pots and pans. It seems simple, but this can prevent extra heat (and wasted energy) from escaping your stove.
  • Wash clothes with cold water to save on water heating costs. Check out more ways to save energy on laundry day here.
  • Keep the freezer full. It takes a lot more energy to cool down an empty 'fridge.
  • Don't open the oven until your food has finished cooking. If you allow hot air to escape, your oven has to use extra energy to crank the temperature back up.

Electronics

Whether it's for work or play, we spend a lot of time plugged into electronics. Even our wireless devices charge at home. Being online all the time can eat up electricity, but making these small steps toward energy conservation can lead to big savings and a better planet.

 

Unplug electronics, including chargers and extension cords, when not in use.

  • Use a power strip for large electronics like TVs and computers. When you switch the strip off, you’ll prevent outlets from taking "phantom loads" of electricity from your devices in standby mode.
  • Power up a laptop instead of a desktop computer. They're leaner, meaner and cleaner for the environment.

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