1. Adjust your thermostat
Did you know that if you set your thermostat at 66 degrees Fahrenheit instead of 68 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter, you will use 6-10 percent less energy to heat your home? Put on a long-sleeved shirt and cut down on your heating costs! Similarly, if you push your thermostat up to 76 or 78 degrees Fahrenheit in the hot summer, you will also use less energy than if you keep it at 72. To make it feel like 72, install and use ceiling fans.
2. Maintain your central air and heat
Close to 50 percent of a home’s energy consumption is directly attributable to heating and cooling the home. Change the filter on a regular basis and get an annual tune-up for your central air and heating system. If your central air or furnace is more than 10 years old, consider upgrading to a new, energy-efficient system (Look for the “Energy Star” logo) that can save you up to 25 percent on your energy usage.
3. Buy energy-efficient appliances
Outside of heating and cooling your home, your refrigerator and other appliances in your kitchen are the biggest sources of energy consumption in your home. Clean the coils on your refrigerator and only use the dishwasher when you have a full load to save energy. Use the microwave instead of the oven when you can. Replacing older appliances with energy-efficient new appliances can make a noticeable difference in your monthly electric bill.
4. Wash your clothes in cold water
Today, they make detergents specifically designed to clean clothes in cold water. According to the US Department of Energy, when you do a load of wash in hot water, 90 percent of the energy used is for heating up the water. As a side benefit, washing in cold water extends the life of your clothing.
5. Conserve water
California residents are well aware of the need to manage the state’s water supply. You can do your small part around the home by installing aerators on your faucets, flow restrictors in your shower heads and low-flow toilets. Change your personal habits such as taking showers instead of baths and don’t leave the water running when you brush your teeth
6. Insulate and seal
A well-insulated house is an energy efficient house. While it is nice to open the windows and let cool air circulate on a nice spring day, when it is too hot, or too cold, you need to use the heat or air conditioning. Insulation and weather-stripping will help keep maintain the desired temperature in both summer and winter time.
7. Use energy-efficient lighting
If you have been shopping for light bulbs lately, you will notice that the shelves are full of compact fluorescent light bulbs (those curly bulbs) and have only a sparse selection of incandescent bulbs. The old bulbs are being phased out and replaced by compact fluorescent bulbs which use 66 percent less energy and last 10 times as long as incandescent bulbs. Prices have also come down in recent years. LED lighting is a little more expensive, but an even more energy-efficient light source.
8. Reduce your use of paper
Online newspapers and magazines are just one way we are becoming less dependent on paper. Save a tree by paying your bills online, using paperless statements and moving away from paper products.
9. Step up your recycling efforts
We can all do a better job of recycling. Those plastic bottles, aluminum cans and other recyclable items help the environment and are not hard to collect. If your neighborhood has a recycling program, participate. You can also find collection spots where your recyclable bottles and goods help benefit charities and worthy causes.
10. Practice green gardening
Avoid using any toxic chemical products to fertilize your lawn or get rid of pests. Compost works great to put nutrients into the soil. Native plants flourish without requiring too much water. If you have a small lawn, consider using an old-fashioned push mower and instead of a leaf blower, pick up a rake or broom and get some exercise.
Article created by Patrick Belhon in San Diego (February 2014)