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Tips: Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Twelve simple things to check around the house

  • What kind of light bulbs do you use?
    • Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) with the ENERGY STAR® label provide bright, warm light and use about 75% less energy than standard lighting. Each bulb produces 75% less heat, lasts up to 10 times longer, and can save you $30 or more per bulb over the bulb's lifetime. There are CFLs for both indoor and outdoor use.
    • Read about other ways to save energy with efficient lighting.
  • Do you use a power strip to save energy on home appliances?
    • Plug home electronics, such as TVs and DVD players, into power strips; turn the power strips off when the equipment is not in use (TVs and DVDs in standby mode still use several watts of power).
    • Find more ways to make your home electronics more energy efficient.
  • What is the temperature on your hot water heater?
    • Check the thermostat on your water heater. Water heaters sometimes come from the factory with high temperature settings, but a setting of 120°F provides comfortable hot water for most uses.
    • Find out additional strategies for energy efficient water heating.
  • What is the temperature of your refrigerator and freezer?
    • To check refrigerator temperature, place an appliance thermometer in a glass of water in the center of the refrigerator. Read it after 24 hours. To check the freezer temperature, place a thermometer between frozen packages. Read it after 24 hours. Recommended temperatures are 37° to 40°F for the fresh food compartment of the refrigerator and 5°F for the freezer section. If you have a separate freezer for long-term storage, it should be kept at 0°F.
    • Find more energy saving tips for refrigerators and freezers.
  • Are your refrigerator and freezer leaking cold air?
    • Make sure your refrigerator door seals are airtight. Test them by closing the door over a piece of paper or a dollar bill so it is half in and half out of the refrigerator. If you can pull the paper or bill out easily, the latch may need adjustment, the seal may need replacing, or you might consider buying a new unit.
    • Find more energy saving tips for refrigerators and freezers.
  • Are your appliances making your air conditioner run overtime?
    • Avoid placing lamps or TV sets near your room air-conditioning thermostat. The thermostat senses heat from these appliances, which can cause the air conditioner to run longer than necessary.
    • Learn additional tips for operating a room air conditioner efficiently.
  • Do you use window shades to keep your home cool in the summer?
    • Keeping window coverings closed during the day will reduce solar gain. In particular, white window shades, drapes, or blinds will help reflect heat away from the house.
    • Learn about window treatments and coverings that improve energy efficiency.
  • Do you use a ceiling fan?
    • If you use air conditioning, a ceiling fan will allow you to raise the thermostat setting about 4°F with no reduction in comfort.
    • Learn more about using a ceiling fan and other ways to increase cooling efficiency.
  • What setting do you use for laundry?
    • Wash your clothes in cold water using cold-water detergents whenever possible. About 90% of the energy used for washing clothes in a conventional top-load washer is for heating the water. Switching your temperature setting from hot to warm can cut a load's energy use in half. Learn more about efficient laundry.
  • Do you air dry dishes?
    • Let your dishes air dry. If you don't have an automatic air-dry switch, turn off the control knob after the final rinse and prop the door open slightly so the dishes will dry faster. Learn more about efficient dishwashing.
  • Do you have a programmable thermostat?
    • You can install a programmable thermostat to keep your house comfortably warm in the winter and comfortably cool in the summer. You can save as much as 10% a year on your heating and cooling bills by simply turning your thermostat back 10% to 15% for 8 hours, for example by turning down air conditioning when you are at work.
    • Find more information on how to operate your thermostat for maximum energy savings. Watch ENERGY STAR's June 5, 2008, podcast for video instructions on operating your programmable thermostat.
  • Are you planning to buy a new appliance?
    • Look for the ENERGY STAR label on home appliances and products. ENERGY STAR products meet strict efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency.
    • Make sure to check the major appliance shopping guide.

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