Stop wasting energy -- and money -- by implementing some small changes to lower your utility bills.
Step 1: Caulk and weather-strip Caulk and weather-strip along window and door frames to lower your utility bills easily, plugging leaks and cracks. Properly insulated and sealed, your home's energy efficiency can improve by up to 20 percent yearly. You can also install door sweeps, which cut air leakage.
TIP: Some power companies offer lower rates for energy consumption during off-peak hours. Check to see if your energy supplier has special deals.
Step 2: Reduce your use Reduce your energy use through new, sensible habits. Be old fashioned and avoid using the electric can opener and grab a manual one instead. Try using a wire whip in place of the mixer.
Step 3: Patch and insulate Patch and insulate around pipes, which are some of the biggest heat suckers in your home. Don't worry how it looks to others as long as it's effective and safe.
Step 4: Determine power needed Determine how powerful of an air conditioning unit your home actually needs. An air conditioner designed for a larger space will waste energy, and is less effective reducing humidity. In addition to having an energy-friendly air conditioner and heating system, shift your thermostat settings to have higher daytime and lower nighttime temperatures. You can cut your bill by up to 180 dollars yearly.
TIP: Through 2010, qualifying central air conditioners were eligible for a federal tax credit of 30 percent of the cost, including installation, up to $1,500.
Step 5: Disconnect and save Disconnect electronic gadgets and chargers. Standby power for appliances can eat 5 to 10 percent of residential electricity use.
Step 6: Update appliances Update your old fridge, dishwasher, clothes washer, and dryer that use more electricity than efficient modern appliances. You'll make back the money in the first couple years.
TIP: Put a couple of dry towels in your dryer with wet clothes, to help absorb the moisture and cut down on the running time.
Step 7: Block the sun Use shades and curtains to block sunlight and better control the temperature. Add insulated window treatments. Just a few simple steps can get you on the road to saving energy and lowering your bills.
FACT: A 2006 Department of Energy study found that off-peak electricity transmission capacity in the United States could fuel 70 percent of light-duty vehicles if they were plug-in hybrid electrics.