Invest a Little, Save a Lot
Saving energy at home can be simple and free: Turn off the lights and TV when you’re not using them and lower the thermostat at night. But for a bigger impact on your electric bill, make a little bit more of an effort and invest a few bucks in energy-saving equipment.
Here’s What To Buy
Whether your budget is large, small or somewhere in between, there are options.
LEDs. Next time a lightbulb burns out, replace it with an LED. They last for years and use their energy to produce only light, not heat. LED bulbs can screw right into the lamps and fixtures you already have. But when it’s time to replace those fixtures, consider buying LED fixtures for even greater savings.
High-quality power strips. Plug your electronic equipment into good power strips. Before you go to bed at night, switch off those strips. If energy-intensive appliances like computers, printers and game consoles are left plugged in after you turn them off, they still use energy—constantly. The only way to stop wasting that energy is to switch off the power.
New windows. If your old ones are single-paned, you might as well leave them open all winter. They’re no match for the cold air, which easily seeps through. If replacing your windows is too big an expense for now, at least plug the leaks around your windows and doors with weatherstripping or caulk.
Window shades. Uncovered windows are great for views but terrible for your energy bill. Your heating bill will be lower in the winter and your air conditioning costs will drop in the summer if you use blinds, curtains or awnings on windows. Uncover them on sunny winter days to let natural warmth into your home but close them up after dark, when the temperature dips.
Programmable thermostat. Everyone forgets to lower the heat once in a while. A programmable thermostat remembers for you. Program yours to lower at bedtime and then automatically warm up the house just before everyone wakes up. It can lower the heat again once everyone leaves for school and work in the morning and crank it back up before the family gets home in the afternoon.
The services of qualified technicians. Keeping your heating and cooling system clean and well-maintained will help it run more efficiently and extend its life. Likewise, keeping vents clear—including the one for your clothes dryer—will keep your family safer and your appliances running as they should.