10 Ways to Cut Your Energy Use in Half

Green America: Economic Action for a Just Planet

1. Turn Off the Lights
Be mindful about shutting lights off when you leave a room. If you have a forgetful family member or roommate, paste reminders on the switch plates or consider installing motion-detector switches.

 

2. Install Ceiling Fans
Install Energy Star ceiling fans in the rooms you use most often. They’ll help keep you cool in the summer while your AC works less or not at all. In the winter, switch them to turn clockwise to circulate the warm air rising up to the ceiling back down into the room.

 

3. Show Your Fridge Some Love
The refrigerator is one of the biggest energy-users in your home, and if it was built before 1993, it’s a huge energy hog. Clean the coils on your fridge every six months to keep it running efficiently, and take up unused space with jugs of water, which will hold in the cold better. Eliminate a second refrigerator, if you have one.

 

4. Wash Clothes in Cold, Let Them Air Dry
Washing clothes in cold water gets them just as clean as hot, and cuts your washer’s energy use in half. Drying your clothes on an outdoor line or indoor rack can save around $100 in energy costs every year.

 

5. Upgrade Appliances
Appliances use 20 percent of the energy in the average US home. When it’s time to buy new appliances, look for the most efficient Energy Star model you can find. The biggest energy hogs in a home are usually the refrigerator (particularly if it was built before 1993) and clothes dryer.

 

6. Give Your Water Heater a Blanket
Adding an insulating cover to your water heater can reduce heat loss by 24-45 percent. Also, turn your water heater down by ten degrees, if possible. If half of US households did so, it would prevent 239 tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

 

7. Plug Air Leaks 

Replacing windows is often the least cost-effective step you can take to save energy, so seal air leaks around doors and windows instead with caulk and weatherstripping. For tips on sealing and refurbishing old wood windows, see our article. Also, consider putting up insulating curtains, pasting low-e film to the window glass, and installing storm windows or plastic window films to further cut down on heat loss in winter.

 

8. Use Your Programmable Thermostat
Nearly half of US homes already have a programmable thermostat. Dig out that owner’s manual and learn how to use yours to maximize the efficiency of your heating and cooling systems. Program your thermostat to turn itself down or off when you’re sleeping or are at work or school.

 

9. Air Dry Dishes
Using your dishwasher instead of washing dishes by hand can save water, but if you let the drying cycle run, you’re wasting energy and money. Skip the drying cycle and let your dishes air dry. Newer, more effective and efficient dishwashers allow you to skip the step of pre-rinsing your dishes before you load them in the dishwasher.

 

10. “Eliminate Phantom Load”

Many electronics still suck energy even when they’re turned off–such as powering that little clock on your microwave when it’s not in use. Unplug your electronics or plug them into a power strip and switch it off to save on this “phantom load.”

For more energy saving tips visit: www.greenamerica.org