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Stay Warm, Save Cold Cash
Tips to Save Energy From the Sierra Club
Christina Kreitzer, RAW Contributor

January 19, 2006

thermostatMy husband and I have a rule. If one of us suggests turning on (or turning up) our thermostat, said person must first be wearing a sweater or sweatshirt, long pants, and socks. Then if said person is still cold, he or she can adjust the temperature. Since adopting this particular house rule, our energy bill has gone down significantly and I have an excellent excuse to buy more sweaters.

The fact is, though, there are lots of ways to help you save money and energy this winter. A new report released yesterday, "Stay Warm, Save Cold Cash," identifies simple, immediate steps all consumers can take to reduce their heat and energy costs as the temperatures get lower. The report also urges the federal government to increase investments in
efficiency and renewable energy. These inexpensive, clean solutions are readily available, and can promptly lower energy bills.

Check out these simple energy saving tips or
view the whole report (.pdf).

Tip #1 – Many hot water heaters are set too high. Lower yours to 120 degrees and drain some water a few times a year to reduce sediment.

Tip #2 – Add insulation to your hot water heater. It can knock up to 15% off the costs of heating water.

Tip #3 – Install a low-flow shower head that will reduce the amount of hot water you use.

Tip #4 – Check for cracks or gaps in your home and seal them with caulk or weather strips. Tiny gaps and cracks in an older home are comparable to a one-foot square hole punched in your wall.

Tip #5 – Tighten windows and loosen your budget. If all windows were as efficient as the best ones now available, the average household would save $150 a year!

Tip #6 – Upgrade your older heating system to one that reduces more pollution in the air. A cheaper solution is to have your heating vents and ducts cleaned regularly.

Tip #7 – Sweaters are in this season, so lower your thermostat! Lowering your thermostat by just one degree can cut at much as 10% of your heating bill.

Tip #8 – Replace your most frequently used incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lights which use only a third as much electricity.

Tip #9 – Turn out your night light! Replace outdoor lighting with a motion-detector equipped bulb or fixture so you don't unnecessarily waste energy.

Tip #10 – Replace old appliances with more efficient models. Look for the Energy Star label as a minimum. Many states and utility companies even offer a credit or other incentive to replace outdated appliances.

Tip #11 – Defrost your freezer. Your freezer has to work harder to keep things cold when frost and ice build up.

Tip #12 – Wash your clothes with full loads and in cold water. Modern washing machines and detergents can clean clothes effectively in cold water so you don't have to waste energy using hot.

For more information:

Energy Star—Home Energy Yardstick

Environmental Protection Agency—Residential Energy Efficiency

American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy

U.S. Department of Energy—Home Energy Audits

Home Energy Saver

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You can email Christine Garst at
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