Now is a great time to take steps toward saving energy and reducing the environmental impact of running a home. While replacing those old leaky windows and installing ceiling fans are great ideas, there are also small things that can be done around the house to lower energy consumption and reduce your carbon footprint. Here are some simple, sustainable adjustments that can make a real difference in energy savings,
- Use "smart" power strips for household appliances such as computers, printers, game consoles, televisions and microwaves. Smart power strips save energy by keeping the connected devices from drawing power when they're not in use or turned off. The standby consumption of these devices can equal that of a 75 or 100 watt light bulb running continuously - even when the device's power switch is turned off.
- Use the dishwasher! Newer dishwashers typically use just 4 to 6 gallons of water on a normal cycle, while washing a sink full of dishes by hand can require up to 15 gallons of water. Up to 60% of the energy used by dishwashers is for heating the water, so washing full loads is best. A full dishwasher will also clean more effectively than one that's only partially filled.
- Adjusting the home's thermostat by just two degrees could reduce a typical household's carbon dioxide emission by 2,000 pounds. It also could provide significant savings on the utilities bill. Programmable thermostats are another great way to stay comfortable and save energy at the same time, by heating and cooling only as they're programmed to do so.
- Keeping household appliances clean and up to date is another way to lower a household's energy consumption. Schedule heating and cooling system for a checkup every 2 years. Air conditioner and refrigerator filters and coils should be cleaned monthly so they'll operate more efficiently.
- Insulating the water heater and weather-stripping or caulking gaps around the home could save up to 420 lbs of carbon dioxide emissions per month in addition to lowering energy costs.
- Switch to CFL or LED bulbs. These can be huge energy savers; they burn significantly less energy and can last up to ten times longer than incandescent types so they're more convenient, too. Users of CFL and/or LED bulbs enjoy reductions in heat production, energy use, and electric bills.