Shower Water Heater
Turn Down Your Water Heater
Who doesn't enjoy a long, hot shower after a long, hard day? Unfortunately, it's also true that hot water heaters are big energy and dollar guzzlers.
But take heart: Lowering the temperature on your water heater from 140 to 120 degrees will reduce your water heating costs by 6 to 10%. Give it a try. Many people find that tweaking the dial to save energy and money can become addictive.
Unplug Unused Chargers
Unplug Unused Chargers
Even when they aren't charging anything, plugged-in cell phone, laptop and other chargers continue to draw electricity. Americans throw away about 8% of our annual electric bills this way, wasting billions of dollars.
The solution is simple: just unplug them, or plug them into a surge protector and flip that switch when your device has pulled enough juice.
The little spiral-shaped bulbs known as compact fluorescents use less than a third of the energy of regular bulbs and last ten times longer, paying for themselves in lower energy bills within months. If every U.S. household replaced just one regular bulb with a CFL, the amount of energy saved could light 2.5 million homes for a year.
The good news is CFLs now come in a variety of colors and styles, including flood lights, candelabra sizes and much more.
:ow Flow Shower
Install Low-Flow Water Fixtures
Decades ago, toilets used 5 gallons per flush, but these days more efficient models are readily available. So-called low-flow models use less than a gallon, and work great. American Standard, Toto and Kohler are leaders in the field.
Also save water and money, and still have ample water pressure, with a low-flow showerhead, which can slash bathing-water consumption 50 to 70 percent. The devices are simple to install and start at around $8. Low-flow faucets are also a great option.
Energy Star Bosch
Upgrade to Energy Star Appliances
Energy Star was designed by the EPA to take the guesswork out of appliance buying. Look for the blue-and-white label, which means the item is at least 10-50% more efficient than standard models (depending on the class of product). That means lower energy bills and less pollution.
More than 18,000 products in 35 different categories are covered in the Energy Star program, and most major manufacturers participate. Energy Star is a fixture in the showrooms of most retailers coast to coast.
Put in Low-Water Plantings
'Green carpet' grass lawns take a huge amount of water in dry climates, which leads to both high water bills and a lot of hassle and worry. Plus, the possibility of mandatory water restrictions means the yard may end up looking like a barren wasteland.
Instead, plant drought-tolerant native shrubs, trees and grasses. They won't require nearly as much water and will serve as habitat for local wildlife. Using low-water plantings even has a catchy name: xeriscaping.
In desert climates, cacti and similar plants, especially native ones, can add great beauty. You can also use stones, rocks and other features to add interest.
Get Smart About Heating and Cooling
With high prices for heating fuels and electricity stalking the nation, it's good to know that there are some easy ways to save money in the area of climate control. That's significant, given that most households shell out 50 to 70% of their energy budgets on heating and cooling, according to the Department of Energy.
What to do? Simply installing a programmable thermostat will save you approximately $150 a year, according to the EPA -- that means it will pay for itself in just a few months. In warm temperatures, resist the temptation to set the air conditioning too low, and be vigilant with heating when it's chilly.
Aiming for 78 degrees or higher when you're at home while reduce your cooling loads 10-20%. When you're away, make it 85 degrees and save an additional 5-12%. In colder weather, for every degree you lower the thermostat, you'll save between 1 and 3% of your heating bill.