There are many steps you can take in your everyday life to conserve energy.
- Make your house more air tight. Even in reasonably tight homes, air leaks may account for 15 to 25 percent of the heat our furnaces generate in winter or that our homes gain in summer. If you pay $1,100 a year to heat and cool your home, you might be wasting as much as $275 annually.
- Buy and USE a programmable thermostat for a 15 percent reduction in your heating and cooling emissions and save $180 a year. During the summer, a setting of 78 degrees Fahrenheit is optimal during the hours you are at home, and 85 degrees when you are away during the day.
- Use power strips in your home office and home entertainment center to curb “phantom loads” and save a surprising amount on your electric bill. Keeping your laser printer turned on when not in use could be costing you as much as $130 annually.
- Upgrade your refrigerator and air conditioner, especially if they are more than five years old. New ones are twice as efficient or more. For fridges: if they’re old an upgrade can pay for itself in as little as three years in energy savings alone.
- Get an electricity monitor from your local hardware store or even borrow one from many local libraries to see where the energy hogs are in your home. This can help you save hundreds of dollars annually.
- Change those light bulbs. New LED light bulbs can give the same light for 15 percent the electricity. That adds up to more than $100 in savings for most families each year.
- Wash clothes in cold water. They get just as clean with today’s detergents. But hot water washes use five times the energy—and create five times the emissions. This could save you nearly $100 a year.
And finally, many utilities offer "green pricing" programs that allow customers to buy renewable energy for a slight price premium. Though some of these programs are not as good as they could be, they offer us a chance to put our money where our mouths are. If your utility has a program, think about signing up; if it doesn't, ask why. If you live in a state that is letting customers choose their power supplier, like California, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts, consider buying green power from a marketer who sells renewable energy.