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Energy and Cost Savings Tips

The average American family spends nearly $1,500 per year on utility bills. This expense can be greatly reduced, depending on how successful a family is at reducing their energy consumption. Saving energy can be a good way to lessen the strain on family finances and free up money for other uses.

There are many things you can do to make your home more efficient, from the simple free adjustments to major long-term investments. Which ones you choose for your home will depend on a number of factors-where you live, the size and style of your house, how efficient it already is, which direction it faces, and so on.

Simple tips that all homeowners can do to conserve energy and money:

  1. Turn off anything you're not using. Not just the lights, but any equipment or appliances such as televisions, VCRs, computers and computer monitors.

  2. When using the clothes washer and dryer, do only full loads. Wash in cold water. Clean the dryer lint trap after each use. Or, even better, line dry your clothes.

  3. Water heater: Lower the temperature to 120 degrees.

  4. Refrigerator: Give the unit breathing room, clean the coils and don't set the temperature too low. Fresh foods keep at 37 degrees to 42 degrees, frozen foods at 0 degrees to 5 degrees. Unplug and recycle your second refrigerator.

  5. Dishwasher: Wash only full loads in the dishwasher. Use the energy saver, air-dry cycle, or if allowed, open the door and let dishes dry naturally. If you have a dishwasher with its own heating element, set temperature to 140 degrees.

  6. Don't preheat your oven when preparing meals. Try using a microwave or toaster oven for small meals. If you must use the oven, try cooking complete meals of several dishes simultaneously.

  7. Turn off your lights whenever they are not needed.

  8. Air conditioner: Clean filters regularly. Inspect filters monthly during operating season. In the cooling season, set your thermostat at 78 degrees or higher when you are at home. When you are away from home, set your air conditioner at 85 degrees. Provide shading for your air conditioner.

  9. Use exterior shading devices or deciduous plants to shade your home and windows from the sun.

  10. If you own a swimming pool, switch the pool filter and sweeper operations to off-peak hours. (Peak hours are noon to 6 p.m.)

  11. Furnace: Clean or replace filters monthly during operating season. Keep your furnace clean, lubricated and properly adjusted. These actions can easily save you 5-10 percent on energy used for heating. In heating season, set your thermostat at 68 degrees or lower during the day, health permitting. Set your clock thermostat at 55 degrees during the night, or when you will be away for more than four hours.

  12. Don't forget to close the damper when not using the fireplace. Turn your heater(s) down when using your fireplace.

  13. In winter, open drapes on sunny days to help warm the rooms.

For more energy and cost savings tips, visit the Web site links below:

DOE Energy Saver's: Tips on Saving Energy and Money at Home

ENERGY STAR for Your Home

Find ENERGY STAR Products

Energy Efficient Mortgage Home Owner Guide

Replacing Exterior Doors and Storm Doors

Alliance to Save Energy

Home Energy Magazine

Content updated on 11/8/2005

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