Many ways to help the environment are costly, but using less electricity is one measure that will save you money.
Step 1: Turn it off Get in the habit of turning things off when you leave a room. That means not just the lights, but every appliance that’s not in use: the TV, the radio, the computer, the cable box, the coffeemaker—everything!
Step 2: Switch to CFBs Replace all bulbs in your home with compact fluorescent bulbs. They’re more expensive, but they pay off in the long run by using 75 percent less energy and lasting ten times longer than incandescent bulbs.
TIP: See if your electric company offers free energy audits, where an official comes to your home and shows you ways to cut down on your usage.
Step 3: Keep fridge closed Don’t be one of those people who open the refrigerator door and stares around like they’re looking at the Mona Lisa. Every time the door is opened, up to 30 percent of the cold air is released.
TIP: Check your refrigerator seal by putting a dollar bill in the door; if you can pull it out, the seal needs replacing.
Step 4: Cover leftovers Cover all the liquids and foods you put in the refrigerator. Exposed food gives off moisture, which makes your refrigerator work harder.
Step 5: Wash and dry prudently Don’t run the washing machine or dishwasher unless you have a full load of laundry. Don’t wash clothes or towels until they’re really dirty, and, when you can, hang your wet laundry on racks or out on the line to dry.
Step 6: Use AC wisely Set your air-conditioner to 78 degrees, and don’t start off on 'high'—it won’t cool down the place any faster.
TIP: To keep the air conditioner running efficiently, clean the filter every month.
Step 7: Banish plants Put indoor plants outside in the summer; they put moisture into the air that makes the AC work harder.
Step 8: Make home more energy efficient Make your home more energy efficient. Try to get rid of air leaks, and look into covering your old water heater with an insulated blanket.
FACT: More than $13 billion worth of energy leaks through holes and cracks in houses every year—that’s more than $150 of wasted energy per family.