Tag Archive | "energy saving tips"

Save Money by Being Environmentally Conscious

Staying Out of the Red by Going Green: How Businesses Actually Save Money by Being Environmentally Conscious

This was written by Miles Hall of businessbroker.net.

The going green initiative has been well under way for a few years now, but many businesses – small and large – are still hesitant to join the movement. They often assume that going green is synonymous with spending more money when this simply not the case. Businesses that cut down on carbon emissions and energy usage may have to purchase new products that are more efficient, but these end up paying for themselves in the long run due to lower operating costs. When it comes to our planet, every little bit helps so even seemingly small steps can add up to big benefits for businesses and the environment.

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Cut Out Expensive and Damaging Commutes

For many offices, employees commuting to work are the biggest negative impact the company has on the environment. One vehicle can produce tons of damaging carbon dioxide emissions per year and this compounds when every employee is driving one vehicle to the same place day in and day out. Setting up a commuting policy can drastically reduce the number of vehicles that a company is putting onto the road every day, and employees end up saving a lot of money as well. Better yet, if a business can implement telecommuting options it can reduce carbon emissions even further and save more money. An employee base that telecommutes means that the company can reduce its office size and save money with utilities, leases, and printing.

Video Conferencing

A simple fact of the matter is that businesses no longer need to send employees flying around the world for every meeting. Obviously face to face meetings are still needed, especially with building inspections and the like, but more often than not video conferencing can serve the same purpose without relying on air travel that is damaging to the atmosphere. Technology is advancing at such a rate that there are few drawbacks to using phone or videoconferencing over travel. Businesses save money by avoiding expensive travel arrangements and save immense amount of their employees’ time.

Try to Go Paperless by Utilizing Cloud Storage and Using Efficient Printers

Businesses are one of the key culprits in paper waste but there are steps they can take to cut down on paper usage. Cloud storage technologies allow for large amounts of data to be saved and accessed from any location with an internet connection. This means employees or clients can merely download any files they need without having to have a hard copy sent to them. Of course, hard copies are unavoidable in an office but by purchasing a quality laser printer offices can efficiently print large quantities. Recycling and using recycled laser cartridges further cuts down on cost and environmental impact.

Smart Power Strips, Efficient Lighting

More steps can be taken around the office to insure that the workplace is using energy efficiently. Plugging computers and appliances into smart power strips keeps these products from using electricity when they are not being used. After everyone clocks out the power strips can tell that the devices are no longer being used and can disconnect from the outlet automatically. This keeps appliances and electronics from using “vampire power” which can add up to a big electric bill for larger offices. Efficient lighting techniques can also add up to huge savings. Placing automatic dimmers than turn off lights when no one is present, or dim the lights when there is enough natural lighting, can help to save up to 30% on energy costs.

These are in no way the only ways businesses can help save money, and the planet. The important factor is realizing that going green does not equal higher operating costs; the opposite is almost always true. Not only do businesses save money, but they also increase their public image and their employees pride in the company.

This post was contributed by a guest writer. If you’d like to guest post for Naturally Earth Friendly please check out our Become An Author page for details on how YOU can share your tips with our readers.

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Seal Fireplace Energy Leaks

Sealing Leaks to Save Energy

This was written by Tim Snyder of Dr. Energy Saver.

It’s wintertime. If you can feel cold drafts coming into your house, it’s a sure bet there’s heat energy going out. Sealing air leaks in key areas will cut cold drafts and your heating bill.

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Here in New England, the arrival of cold weather inevitably triggers concerns about the cost of staying warm. Because we have so much rocky terrain and so many rural communities, low-priced natural gas isn’t available as a heating fuel in many areas. As a result, we watch the price of fuel oil carefully, while doing what we can to cut the cost of staying warm.

Insulation is the first thing most of us think about when it comes to keeping a house warm in the wintertime. But the fiber-based insulation used in many attics –fiberglass batts, loose-fill fiberglass and cellulose insulation—can’t stop convective heat loss that occurs as “conditioned” (warm) air leaks out of your living space. Tiny air leaks throughout your house create a convective air movement pattern that building scientists call the “Stack Effect.” As the warmest air rises naturally to the top of your living space and leaks into the attic, a resulting vacuum effect draws cold outside air into the house through leaks in lower sections. To short-circuit the Stack Effect, you have to stop as much leakage as possible –especially leakage into the attic. Properly air sealing the following “target” areas can substantially reduce energy-wasting air leaks. In fact, air sealing combined with proper levels of insulation can cut your heating and cooling costs by 20%. 

4 ways to short-circuit the Stack Effect and save energy

  1. Seal leaks in and around the fireplace. Warm interior air can easily leak out the fireplace chimney, even when the damper is closed. If you use your fireplace frequently, have airtight glass doors installed so that you can close this major leak when you’re not enjoying the fire. If you don’t use your fireplace, consider closing off the chimney with an inflatable bladder. Available from Amazon and other sources, these “draftstopper” bladders seal air leaks much more effectively than the fireplace damper can. Another major air leak area can be found where your wallboard meets the masonry of the fireplace and chimney. Use “fireblock-grade” spray foam to seal the gap between these surfaces and you’ll be eliminating some major leakage.
  2. Insulate and seal the attic access hatch or drop-down stair. A typical house will provide attic access with a hatch (aka scuttle) or a drop-down stair. Either way, these access points represent an Achilles heel in your home’s “building envelope;” they leak air and provide very little insulation from frigid attic temperatures. Readymade scuttle and hatch covers from different suppliers (such as Battic Door: http://www.batticdoor.com/) are easy to install and help to seal and insulate this weak spot.
  3. Stop energy leaks around recessed “can” lights. Are there recessed lights installed in the ceiling that separates your living space from the attic? If so, every hole cut in the ceiling to install these lights is an energy drain. Some homeowners close up these holes and replace can lights with surface-mount light fixtures. A less-expensive solution is to go into the attic and install specially designed airtight covers over the cans and wiring that are exposed in the attic. Sealing the cover to the drywall and then adding insulation over the cover is a very effective corrective strategy. A full-service insulation contractor should be able to do this work as part of an attic insulation upgrade, which is also a smart idea.
  4. Seal around electrical outlets in exterior walls. The first three sealing tasks are primarily for limiting air exfiltration –conditioned air leaking out of your living space. Step 4 will help to cut down on air infiltration –cold exterior air that leaks into exterior wall cavities and then into your living space. Home centers sell air sealing foam gaskets designed to be installed beneath the outlet cover plate. These gaskets are inexpensive and effective. But before installing one, use all-purpose caulk or low-expanding spray foam to seal any gaps between the drywall and the electrical box for double protection against cold drafts.

Seal Door LeaksConsider the ultimate leak detector: a blower door test

It would be irresponsible to discuss air-sealing a house without mentioning the benefits of a blower door test, which is always performed as part of a home energy audit. To perform the test, a powerful, specially calibrated fan is mounted in an airtight housing that’s tightly fit in an exterior doorway. After technicians make sure the house is in “winter” mode (windows and exterior doors closed, fireplace dampers closed, etc.), the fan is turned on to suck air out of the house. With the fan operating, the energy analyst can accurately measure the total amount of air leaking into the house. Your air leakage rate is compared to the benchmark rate for a “tighter,” more-efficient house of the same size. The blower door test gives you a tighter air leakage rate to aim for with air-sealing work. During the test, the technician can go around the house and show you where your major leakage is occurring –exactly the information you need to seal leaks and save energy.

This post was contributed by a guest writer. If you’d like to guest post for Naturally Earth Friendly please check out our Become An Author page for details on how YOU can share your tips with our readers.

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Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint – In Five Simple Steps

This was written by Dan Whiteside of http://diynewbie.org/.

Are you looking to reduce your carbon footprint? If so, why not go green and do your bit for the environment? Eco-living is easier than you may think and could do wonders for your bank balance.

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Here are five useful tips:

According to the Energy Saving Trust (EST), a family of four could save over half a tonne of carbon monoxide and £420 on energy bills every year – just by saving water. A few simple measures and behaviour changes could make a big difference, so it’s definitely worth cutting back on the amount of water you use.

Arrange a boiler service

Did you know that boilers account for around 60 per cent of what you spend on a year on energy bills? That’s right; they use an enormous amount of electricity, so it’s important to arrange a boiler service with a reputable company every year. A Gas Safe Register approved engineer will make sure everything’s working properly and will prevent you from spending money unnecessarily.

If you can, replace your old boiler with an A-rated, high-efficiency condensing boiler. These recover more heat and send cooler gases up the flue – helping to significantly cut your home’s carbon dioxide emissions. Condensing boilers should also reduce your outgoings by as much as £300 a year, so they’re worth the money.

Use energy-efficient light bulbs

Believe it or not, energy-efficient light bulbs can last up to ten times longer than standard bulbs. They convert energy to light with ease and could save you a lot of money in the long-run – so nip to your nearest home store. Look for compact fluorescent bulbs or 6W LEDs and throw all your old bulbs away. Lighting accounts for around eight per cent of a typical household’s bills, so it’s worth making this change.

Buy the right products

One of the best ways to save energy and money is to buy Energy Saving Trust Recommended products. These products have to meet strict energy performance criteria and will ensure you’re not throwing money down the drain, so look out for the EST label. Everything from loft insulation to fridge freezers can be found online and will help you improve the energy-efficiency rating of your home.

Going green is easier than you may think, so it’s worth giving it a go.

This post was contributed by a guest writer. If you’d like to guest post for Naturally Earth Friendly please check out our Become An Author page for details on how YOU can share your tips with our readers.

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Curb Energy Consumption Around the House

3 Ways to Curb Energy Consumption Around the House

This guest post is by Stephanie Sundheimer of Mechanical Heating & Cooling.

Are your energy bills higher than you think they ought to be? Are they constantly climbing and you don’t know why? The average home has a number of holes that energy tends to seep through, and the amount of energy leakage generally increases over time. If you are looking to cut back on your energy consumption, reduce your energy expenses, and improve the efficiency of your home, here are three of the best places places to start.

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Windows & Doors

Even the slightest crack under your front door can mean big energy leakage if it is not properly taken care of. Leaving a space as small as an eighth of an inch between the bottom of your front door and its seal can lead to energy seepage equivalent to that which would leak through a hole the size of two square inches. Between the small spaces in your doors and slight cracks in your windows, finding places where energy can sneak out of the house is often easier than you would think. In many homes, especially those that are older, it is possible to find holes equivalent to a square foot or more. Sealing up these holes in your windows and doors alone can save up to 15% on your energy bills.


Most people are aware that the insulation (or lack thereof) in your home can contribute significantly to your home’s energy efficiency. Unfortunately, most also fall victim the the myth that insulating or reinsulating your home can solve your existing problems. The truth, however, is that the most important factor in the effectiveness of your home’s insulation is its ability to prevent the transfer of heat. What this means is that even the best insulated of homes can still contribute to excessive energy consumption if they are not properly sealed. For this reason, it is a good idea to have your home investigated by a heating and cooling professional for air leaks and energy holes before attempting to insulate your home.

Water Heaters

Lack of insulation when it comes to your hot water pipes combined with excessive water temperatures are the leading culprits for unnecessary energy consumption when it comes to your water heater. By simply insultating the pipes on your water heater and turning the temperature down by ten degrees, you can easily save up to 5% per year on your energy bills. Another way to cut back on energy consumption is by investing in a tankless water heater, as opposed to a standard tank-type water heater. Tankless water heater manufacturers will boast 40% energy savings for those who make the switch, but the significant investment in doing so could take more than a decade to pay off.

This list is far from exhaustive, and there are many other parts of your home, such as your heating and cooling systems and your ducts, that contribute significantly to the loss of energy throughout your home. But it is a good place to start if you are looking for ways to reduce your energy footprint and save some money along the way.

This post was contributed by a guest writer. If you’d like to guest post for Naturally Earth Friendly please check out our Become An Author page for details on how YOU can share your tips with our readers.

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Reducing Energy Consumption with Alternative Lighting

Reducing Energy Consumption with Alternative Lighting

This guest post is by Stephanie Sundheimer of www.empledlighting.com.

According to a report released by the U.S. Department of energy earlier this year, a progressive shift in the way that Americans view lighting as an outlet for increasing energy savings is currently taking place—and it’s gaining more and more momentum as we speak.

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But where did it come from, and just how far can it go? Answering these questions requires an in-depth look at a technology known as solid state lighting (SSL), the family of energy-efficient alternatives that includes the LED.

What is Solid State Lighting?

To understand what solid state lighting is and what benefits it has to offer, we first need to realize the downfalls of its predecessors.

Traditional lighting sources such as fluorescent lamps (the kind you see in a classroom or business) and halogen lamps (these ones you’d recognize in a gymnasium or parking garage) require plasma or electrical filaments for illumination. Because of the way these light sources are manufactured, they put out immense amounts of heat, making them highly inefficient.

The difference with solid state lighting is that the light is emitted in the form of a photon as electrons recombine into designated spots of the lighting device. Because this ultimately requires less energy than traditional lights, the output of heat is significantly lower, making it much more efficient.

The Progression of Solid State Lighting

Although the first Light Emitting Diode was created in 1907, this discovery was far from a practical lighting solution. It wasn’t until nearly half a century later that the first visible LED was created, and it took until the 1990s to finally produce white light.

Since that time however, the progression of LED technologies hasn’t looked back. With a bit of help from the US Department of Energy, LED lighting research exploded in the early 2000s and the result is today’s LED that has the potential to reduce lighting energy consumption in the United States by a quarter, not to mention the expense that could be spared.

Solid State Lighting and the Future

In order to accomplish such a drastic cut in our energy use, LED lighting would have to replace everything from stop lights and street lights to desk lamps and refrigerator bulbs. Is it possible? Yes. But it requires a population dedicated to reducing energy consumption in every way and educating their neighbors in doing the same.

This post was contributed by a guest writer. If you’d like to guest post for Naturally Earth Friendly please check out our Become An Author page for details on how YOU can share your tips with our readers..

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Living Space More Energy Efficient

Quick Ways to Make Your Living Space More Energy Efficient

This guest post is by Liz Childers of Grandview Outdoor.

Even for the most energy conscious person, it can be hard to make your living space as efficient as possible. The primary reasons for this are money and inability. It is expensive to revamp your home to be solar powered or have all new energy efficient appliances. And for those living in a rented space, you do not have the ability to make big changes. Thankfully, there are ways to make huge changes to your energy use without breaking the bank or your lease. Here are five steps you can take today.

Insulated Curtains

If you live in an older home or apartment, your windows might be the greatest source of energy loss. Many older windows are ill fitting so your indoor air that you spent money heating or cooling to a comfortable temperature is simply leaking outside. Older windows are also single-paned, which means they are poorly insulated. While buying new windows is an expensive undertaking, you can add good insulation for a fraction of the cost. Insulated curtains are available in all styles and sizes. These curtains are two-ply and block the flow of indoor and outdoor air, as well as, doing a better job of blocking outdoor light. For a relatively inexpensive cost, insulated curtains can keep your home the temperature you want it to be without having wasted energy seep through old windows.

Low Flow Faucets

Your standard showerhead gives you a steady flow of about six gallons per minute. While you may be in love with that relaxing stream of hot water, consider the amount of water that you actually need to shower – and how much is going down the drain. A low flow faucet cuts the water flow to about 2.5 gallons per minute, which is a great difference. Low flow showerheads are easy to buy at your local hardware store and are simple to screw onto most faucets. You can also adapt all your sinks in the same way!

Use Surge Protectors or Power Strips

A common remedy for wasted power is to unplug all your appliances when they are not being used. As we are regularly reminded, plugs use energy, even when the device is not being used. No matter how frequently this tip comes up, it is still easily forgotten or ignored for the sake of convenience when you have a multitude of electronics plugged into outlets. To make it easy on yourself, plug your appliances into power strips and plug the single power strip into the outlet. This way, there is only one device to unplug. To make it even easier, opt for a newer style of power strip that has a remote control; you won’t have to feel behind the couch for the plug anymore!

Change Air Filters

Your air conditioning system’s air filter does exactly what it says – it filters the air before it gets sent back into your home, either heated or cooled to your comfortable temperature. Imagine how much dirt your vacuum cleaner has after you clean the house; your air filter is doing the same thing for the air. Therefore, a grime filled filter is going to perform worse and take longer, which leads to low energy efficiency. Change your filter at least every three months, and every single month during the summer and winter when the air system is getting the heaviest use.

Switch to Florescent Bulbs

While florescent bulbs cost a tad bit more than incandescent light bulbs to which you may be accustomed, the trade off is worth it. Florescent bulbs last longer and save you an astonishing amount of energy – especially after long term use.

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This post was contributed by a guest writer. If you’d like to guest post for Naturally Earth Friendly please check out our Become An Author page for details on how YOU can share your tips with our readers..

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Save Energy In The Kitchen

5 Ways To Save Energy In The Kitchen For The Modern Lady

This is a guest post by Isaac of Cliq Studios.

The modern lady is busy, sociable and very often finds herself juggling many tasks at once. This leaves her with limited time for domestic chores… In a modern ladies mind, anything that makes life easy is a win… However, this busy schedule often neglects thought for how to conserve energy in the home. Here are ways that a modern lady can save energy in the home:

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Saving energy in the kitchen involves revisiting how almost every ‘activity area’ and appliance is used. Awareness of ways to change behaviours that result in the unnecessary use of electricity can not only lower electric bills but also benefit the environment. A careful look at the way appliances and cooking procedures increase the cost of electricity reveal many areas in the kitchen that can produce huge energy savings.

The areas to find ways to save electricity in the kitchen include large appliances, small appliances, and cooking methods. Simple changes to each area can make a big difference in the amount that appears on an electric bill. A persistent effort to cut unnecessary use of electric power can result in significant savings.

Cooking tips

  • Large appliances like big cookers, freezers and the refrigerator create a heavy draw on energy. Cookers have several energy saving options and have really focused their efforts on finding ways to encourage the conservation of energy and subsequently lower operating costs.
  • Use a toaster oven for small items instead of the oven.
  • Use the residual heat in a burner or oven as a way to cut down on energy. Both stay hot enough to continue cooking long after they turn off.
  • Keep the reflectors clean so they can increase the available heat.

Lower the cost of using the refrigerator and freezer

  • Set the freezer and refrigerator temperatures at the level manufacturers recommend.
  • Check the seals on the refrigerator to make sure they do not let cold air escape. If a dollar bill pulls through the seals when the refrigerator door is closed, they may need replacements.

Save energy that produces heat or cold

Appliances that are hot keep heat for a long time, even in the off position. Many foods can reach a last stage of cooking by using the heat that remains in the oven or burner.

  • Put a lid on foods that can continue to cook after they come off the burner. Boiled eggs and rice are two items that work well with this method.
  • Fit the size of the pan to the size of the burner.

Store foods properly

  • Use a cover on food that is stored in the refrigerator. Uncovered food creates moisture that needs extra cooling power.
  • Wait until hot food cools down prior to refrigerating it.

Use water wisely

  • Make sure to use cold water from the kitchen faucet, unless there is a reason to use hot water.
  • Avoid using energy for the hot water heater unnecessarily.

With a small amount of thought and planning, a modern lady can save energy in the kitchen and lower the costs of operating the appliances as well. Small efforts can produce big savings for the smart and efficient cook. Many ways to save on energy in the kitchen are available to anyone who wants to enjoy the benefits of doing so – not just the modern lady!

This post was contributed by a guest writer. If you’d like to guest post for Naturally Earth Friendly please check out our Become An Author page for details on how YOU can share your tips with our readers.

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Save Wasted Energy

Small Ideas to Save Wasted Energy

This is a guest post by David Beastall, on behalf of Acre Resources who provide recruitment services for the world’s energy, environment and health and safety professionals.

Know what you want from your fridge

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Have a good idea of what you’re going to your fridge for before you open that door, fridges aren’t the place to browse and do window shopping for your lunch! Your fridge will start to warm up the moment you open that door, but it will take considerably longer for it to return to its stable cool operational running temperature and expend additional energy in doing so. So let’s stop looking for the sake of looking.

Small Ideas to Save Wasted Energy

Use your cooker efficiently

Here are a few suggested questions to ask yourself before you light your gas stove. Are you cooking or merely heating? Are you using a big pan or a small pan and are you going to be using it for long time or just a few moments? If all you’re doing is heating up milk in order to make yourself a hot chocolate, then you will more than likely benefit from using the smaller rings.

Use the correct ring and flame size for the right job. Likewise a bigger ring and flame will be able to quickly transfer the heat into your pan in order to cook your food as required where as an under powered ring would burn for much longer period of time in order to achieve the same temperature all whilst dissipating and wasting some of that heat into the air before you even start.

Wash like a pro

Save your bath for those times when you really need to relax and make the most of the heat. Instead of filling your tub, take a shower and try to stay mindful enough not to let your mind wander for any great length of time or you’ll have been there for longer than you probably realised, simply wash then go. Did you know in Australia the government told people to stop singing whilst they showered because of the extra time and water it was expending?

Collect rain water for when you need it

Start collecting rain water in drums, vats or barrels. The next time you need to water your garden during the sunnier months of the year then you’ll be able to turn to this source rather than your hose pipe. You’re being green by helping to sustain the environment and you’re saving money by not paying for water that’s free anyway!

This post was contributed by a guest writer. If you’d like to guest post for Naturally Earth Friendly please check out our Become An Author page for details on how YOU can share your tips with our readers.

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Save Up to 40% on Utilities: Use What You Already Know

Your house payment, of course, stands-out as your biggest monthly expense; in most families, the monthly car payments rank second. Utility bills usually come-in a very close third; and during winter freezes or summer hot-spells, the combined cost of gas and electricity frighteningly can devour up to half of a paycheck.

This is a guest post by financial author Thomas Hathaway who suggests that at times payday loans are the perfect solution when you have a financial need before payday. If you would like to write an article, please read How to Become an Author.

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Your house payment, of course, stands-out as your biggest monthly expense; in most families, the monthly car payments rank second. Utility bills usually come-in a very close third; and during winter freezes or summer hot-spells, the combined cost of gas and electricity frighteningly can devour up to half of a paycheck. Energy experts assert, however, utility bills need not remain your third largest expense; and they argue a little knowledge and initiative go a very long way in cutting your energy costs. Most families have great energy conservation plans, often the products of kids’ science classes. But most families never quite get around to putting their great plans into effect. Using what you already know, you and your family may cut your energy bills by 40% or more.

Three energy efficient light bulbs.

Image courtesy of Anton Fomkin.

  • Go naturally without gas. Most American families run-up their energy bills with the costs of heating and cooling their homes. Therefore, begin cutting utility bills at the thermostat. Set air conditioning to 78, no lower than 75; set heating to 70, keeping in mind that most experts recommend 68. Then, make the deepest cost cuts by closing vents in rooms you rarely visit—the living room and dining room, for example. For maximum savings, adjust the thermostat for minimal household heating and cooling, putting space heaters and room fans in the places where you spend most of your time. If you live in an older two-story home, you know the heat naturally rises into the upstairs bedrooms; close the vents and let physics take care of air circulation. Conversely, during the summer, cold air falls; apply the principles of physics in reverse. To boost nature’s effects, install ceiling fans in your busiest rooms.
  • Insulate everything. Put a blanket on your water heater, an extra layer of insulation in your attic, more blown-in insulation in your walls, and weather stripping on all your windows. Seriously consider “natural insulation,” too: A row of trees along the south side of your home may cut your cooling costs as much as 20 percent, and it may add 5 percent to your home’s “curb appeal.”
  • Consumer electronics need not consume your paycheck. By now, you should have replaced all the light bulbs in your home with compact fluorescents. If you haven’t quite completed the job, do it this weekend. Then, start cultivating the family’s conservation habits, encouraging them to turn off lights the split-second they have finished with them. Even more importantly, teach the family to turn-off every appliance, computer, gadget, widget, handheld and “thingie” when they have finished using it. Although no device consumes a great deal of power, turning off a whole house full of computers and kitchen gadgets can cut your ener4gy bills as much as 10%.
  • Work the water cycle. If you have a vegetable garden or orchard, irrigate with gray water from your washing machine and dishwasher; simply hook the drain pipes from the appliances to feeder lines for your drip system. If you live anywhere with decent rainfall, put rain barrels at the ends of your downspouts, collecting water for irrigation and even for some laundry. If you have not yet installed low-flow toilets, do it now, because the toilets will pay for themselves with just two month of water conservation; the same applies, of course, to shower heads and kitchen faucets. Most of all, institute a strict short-shower policy, instructing everybody in the fine art of getting wet, turning off the water to lather and scrub, and then quickly but thoroughly rinsing. You will save hundreds of gallons of water and a whole bunch of gas or electricity for heating it.
  • Make trash your treasure. Although most major cities and suburbs now offer curbside recycling as part of their standard trash pick-up, they also keep the revenue from their recycling initiatives. Now that aluminum has topped $2 per pound, and given the average American family generates at least a pound of recyclable aluminum every week, you give away $20 every month. Manage your own recycling and cash-in. Similarly, cities typically pick-up yard waste, using it for compost, while homeowners foolishly invest in fertilizers and lawn additives. Start your own compost, using all your grass clippings and plant trimmings, supplementing with organic food waste, and consulting your home improvement retailer for compost additives that accelerate decomposition and add soil nutrients. Most of all, encourage the entire family to recycle or reuse practically everything. One prominent example suffices: Why are you still buying food storage containers when butter tubs and cottage cheese containers work at least as well?

The Great Recession may limit your opportunities for investments in home improvements, but you should begin planning to replace all your appliances with new and improved “energy star” models. Even if your refrigerator, dishwasher, washing machine, and dryer are less than five years old, new appliances save at least 10% from 2008 models. Of course, the upgrades add value to your home, and some states and counties are offering handsome rebates for appliance upgrades. Similarly, begin planning to install solar cells for electricity or solar panels for heating water. In many large cities, solar contractors are offering lease-to-own programs, or local governments are offering big tax credits for solar installations.

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How to Lower Your Energy Bills this Winter in 6 Easy Steps

December 21, 2008. With the first day of winter on the horizon, we're all going to be spending more time indoors and that means rising energy bills to keep warm. Here's a few simple tips you can start to save a few extra bucks while reducing your carbon footprint at the same time.

1. Natural light. Open your curtains and take advantage of the sunshine during the day and you won't have the need for many lamps to be on. Just don't forget to shut them up at night to keep your home insulated.

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2. Close your gaps. Drafty windows usually mean there is a gap around the window sill and this will allow air to leak in and out. Weather stripping is inexpensive and easy to add to your windows and doors. You should be able to cover the costs in a month or two of energy savings.

3. Switch your current showerhead to a low-flow model. By adding air into the water stream you'll be using less water and your water heater won't have to work so hard.

Well, an anonymous reader found an even better deal: A low-flow showerhead by Real Goods that has a flow rate of 1.2 gallon/minute and a "pause" button that allows you to stop the water while soaping up or applying shampoo (and the price is $12!). – Treehugger.com

4. Replace your existing thermostat with a programmable thermostat. This is easy to install and should cost less than $50.

5. Wrap your water heater in a blanket. Insulating your water heater is fast and efficient. The energy savings will pay for it in no time.

6. Check your water heater's temperature. If you're water heater is heating water to anything above 120 degrees Farenheit you're just wasting energy. Turn the setting down and it's a quick and simple way to save money on your heating bills this winter.

With the rising costs of energy bills, it's never too early to start looking for ways to be more Earth friendly. Hopefully these tips will keep you warm and toasty this winter and keep that extra cash in your wallet. If you have any additional tips, please feel free to share them.

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