Just as many homeowners are coping with thinner wallets, bills for those holiday indulgences are coming due. Paying them may require a little belt-tightening. One way is to slim down your energy costs. The average American household spends about $2,000 per year on energy, according to the Department of Energy—and about 45 percent of that is heating-related. There are a few simple things you can do to lower your utility bills without sacrificing comfort.
You can start today by making a few small changes that’ll pay off in the long run. The DOE’s Energy Savers Guide offers many easy, practical solutions that don’t require a lot of effort or a big investment.
•Find leaks and other sources of waste by conducting a do-it-yourself home energy assessment. Seal any leaks with weatherstripping.
•Upgrade your lightbulbs by consulting our latest Ratings and recommendations. Replacing 15 lightbulbs could save you about $50 per year.
•Turn off your computer and monitor when you’re not using them and plug other home electronics, such as TVs and DVD players, into power strips that can easily be turned off when the equipment is not in use.
•Lower the thermostat on your water heater to 120 degrees F.
•Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes.
•Take short showers instead of baths.
•Clean warm-air registers, baseboard heaters, and radiators as needed to ensure they're not blocked by furniture, carpeting or drapes.
•Install a programmable thermostat to keep your house comfortably warm in the winter and comfortably cool in the summer.
•Look for the Energy Star label on home appliances and other products. Consult our Ratings of dishwashers, washing machines and refrigerators to see which earn the Energy Star.
Learn about even more ways to save by downloading the Energy Savers Booklet.
—Mary H.J. Farrell