Identify Air Leaks
Drafts or indoor air leaks -- gaps in the edge of flooring or the area where the wall meets the ceiling -- can increase your annual energy use by 5 to 30 percent. Seal these leaks with caulk, spray-foam or weather strips.
Check Your Light Bulbs
Replacing your regular light bulbs with the compact fluorescent kind is the single best thing you can do to save energy, period. According to the California Energy Commission, fluorescent light bulbs are just as bright as regular ones, but they use one-quarter of the electricity.
Run Your Thermostat on a Schedule
The average American family spends 41 percent of its home energy bill on heating and cooling. Following a schedule is an easy way to avoid wasting a ton of energy. During the summer, program your thermostat for 78 F when you’re out of the house or asleep, and keep it a little cooler when you’re at home. In the winter, turn the heat down to 65 F when you’re at work or asleep, then up closer to 70 when you’re home.
Turn off the Computer
The notion that turning your computer on and off wastes more energy than keeping it running all day does is a myth. Yes, there is a small surge in energy when you boot up, but it’s nothing compared to leaving it on 24-7. If you aren’t going to use your computer for the next 20 minutes, turn off the monitor. And if you aren’t going to use it for the next two hours, turn it off entirely. (Take note: A screen saver is not an energy saver.)
When you aren’t using your electronics, chargers or appliances, yank that plug out of the wall. A phenomenon called vampire energy drain happens when plugs drain energy from the wall, even when the source isn’t turned on. This energy can add up: Your laptop could cost you around $15 a year in energy drain, and a game console in standby mode could add up to over $25 a year.
Rachel Bertsche is a Web producer, blogger and journalist who lives in Chicago. She’s written for
O, The Oprah Magazine, Marie Claire, Every Day With Rachael Ray, Outside and
Fitness. Her first book,
MWF Seeking BFF, will be out next year. Her articles have previously appeared on Green Goes Simple.