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Saving Energy and Dollars...

No Cost Ways to Make Your Home More Efficient

By Wayne Price, Rural Electric Nebraskan

In many homes today nearly every light bulb is now a LED, or light-emitting diode light bulb. Even though these are much more efficient than incandescent or CFL bulbs, making sure they're off when you're not using them is still a good way to conserve energy.

While the LED replacement for a regular 100 watt incandescent bulb might only use five watts, if you leave it on, you'll still be wasting electricity. LED Bulbs

Actually there are a number of things you can do to make your home more efficient that do not cost a dime:

  • Turn off lights when you leave a room. This is one of the most overlooked efficiency opportunities in our daily lives. It is also one that I seem to constantly be reminding my kids to do.
  • While ceiling fans can help cut summer energy use, they can also be substantial energy users-depending on how they are used and what kind of lights, if any, are part of the fan package. About 80 percent of the possible savings from a more efficient ceiling fan happen in the lighting. So be sure any new fans you buy contain ENERGY STAR®outside link labeled lighting. Set ceiling fans to rotate clockwise in cold months and counterclockwise in warmer months.
  • During the winter, open up curtains on sunny days to let the warm sunlight in. At night, make sure to close the curtains. In the summer, keep your curtains closed.
  • Set your water heater temperature to no more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Water heating accounts for about 18 percent of your home's overall energy use. Reducing your hot water useoutside link and employing energy-saving strategies can help you reduce your monthly energy bills.
       Typically, you can find a thermostat dial for a gas storage water heater near the bottom of the tank on the gas valve. Electric water heaters, however, may have thermostats positioned behind screw-on plates or panels.
  • When cooking, match the pot size to the burner size. Use small electric pans, toaster ovens, or convection ovens for small meals rather than your large stove or oven. A toaster or convection oven uses one-third to one-half as much energy as a full-sized oven.
       Also, do not unnecessarily open the door to the oven while cooking or baking. Heat escapes, and the oven will have to reheat. stoves
  • Keep range-top burners and reflectors clean; they will reflect the heat better, and you will save energy.
  • Keep the kitchen cool in summer by cooking meals outdoors on the grill or using the microwave instead of the stove top or oven.
  • There are a couple ways to reduce the amount of energy used when you're washing clothesoutside link, use less water and use cooler water. Unless you're dealing with oily stains, the warm or cold water setting on your washing machine will generally do an adequate job of cleaning your clothes.efficient washer dryer
       Wash clothes in cold water using cold-water detergents whenever possible. Try air-drying clothes on clothes lines or drying racks. Air drying is recommended by clothing manufacturers for some fabrics.
       Switching your temperature setting from hot to warm can cut a load's energy use in half. Only start the washing machine when loads are full.
       Same goes for your dish washer. Run it when it's full and reduce the water temperature, if possible. Check the manual that came with your dishwasher for the manufacturer's recommendations on water temperature. Many have internal heating elements that allow you to set the water heater in your home to a lower temperature (120° F).
  • Turn off electronics and unplug chargersoutside link when they are not in use. These are "energy vampires" that draw energy even though they aren't on. Usually, it's because they use an AC adapter.
       A built-in DC power supply that keeps power available is another kind of energy drain. Check the transformer for heat after the device has been turned off for a couple of hours to see if it has this kind of energy waster.      
       Performing even a few of these tips can make a dramatic difference in your energy bills. It just takes a small commitment by you and your family to conserve energy.