Save money! Pollute less! You can dramatically improve your home's energy efficiency with these key tips.
Weatherize: Get yourself a caulking gun and some weather stripping and go to town sealing all the little air leaks around windows and doors. The Department of Energy estimates these steps will pay for themselves within one year.
Appliances: Appliances make up around 20 percent of home energy usage and the fridge sucks up much of that. Make sure your refrigerators coils are clean and that all gaskets fit tightly. Keep the temperature of your fridge at about 37 degrees and the freezer at 3 degrees for optimum energy efficiency. Don't just turn off appliances when they aren't in use‑-unplug them to keep them from using any electricity, even to keep a digital face lit.
Buy the Bulbs: Each conventional light bulb you replace with a fluorescent will save you in the neighborhood of $40 over the lifetime of the bulb. They also use about 75 percent less energy and produce about 75 percent less heat.
The Water Heater: Water heating can account for 14 to 25 percent of the energy consumed in your home. Wrap the heater in an insulating jacket to keep it from losing heat. Then turn down the temperature on the water heater as low as you can stand it. For each 10 degree reduction in temp, you'll save about 3 to 5 percent in energy to run the heater. If you can afford it, buy a new energy-efficient model you'll earn your money back over the life of the heater in energy bills.
Heat on a Timer: Installing a programmable thermostat can save up to $180 a year in energy costs. The Department of Energy recommends keeping temps during the day between 65 and 68 degrees and dropping nighttime temps to 55 degrees.
Sources: Department of Energy and Energy Star