Saving energy at home can be simple and free: Turn off the lights and TV when you’re not using them; 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:
LEDs. Next time a light bulb burns out, replace it with an LED. They last for years and use their energy to produce light, not heat. LED bulbs can screw right into the lamps and fixtures you have. But when it’s time to replace those, consider buying LED fixtures for even greater savings.
Good-qualify power strips. Plug your electronic equipment into them. Before you go to bed at night, unplug those strips. If energy-intensive appliances like computers, printers and video 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 unplug.
New windows. If your old ones are single-pane versions, you might as well leave them open all winter. They’re no match for the cold air, which can seep through them. And they don’t do a good job of keeping your heated air inside. If that’s too much for now, at least plug the leaks around your windows and doors with weather stripping 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 the natural warmth come 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 will do that for you. Program yours to lower at bedtime, and then automatically warm the house up 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 smoother and more efficiently. Likewise, keeping vents clear—including the one for your clothes dryer—will keep your family safer and your appliances running as they should.