Soaring energy costs and hellish Houston heat are bound to make this an expensive summer for most people. There have always been environmental and political reasons to conserve energy, but now more people have a financial motivation as well. Here are a few obvious and not-so-obvious tips that will let you easily save energy by picking the "low-hanging fruit".
- Unplug appliances that aren't in use. TVs, VCRs, and even toasters eat up power even when they are turned off. With a house full of gadgets, the power consumption adds up quickly. Stick your media center on a power strip and turn it off when you're not using it. Unplug the toaster when you're done. You get the idea.
- Computer monitors are huge energy drains - don't just use a screensaver, set them to power down after 10 minutes
- Get rid of incandescent light bulbs. They output 90% of their energy as heat, which is colossally ineffecient. Compact fluorescent bulbs cost a couple bucks more, but last 5 times as long and save you lots of money on energy costs in the long run.
- Turn the AC off while you're gone during the day. Programmable thermostats make this easy.
- When you're gone, keep shades and curtains closed to prevent sunshine from heating up your place.
- Put lids on pots when boiling water on the stove. Seems like a small thing, but they add up, believe me.
- Turn down your hot-water heater a few degrees. If you have to mix your hot water with significant amounts of cold water to take a shower or do dishes, then it's set too high.
Also see Alan Zeilicoff's excellent pdf "Saving Energy Without Derision", which I have written about before and have mirrored on my site_ part1 (pdf) part 2 (pdf). He's got lots of great figures showing how his family and company saved a ton of power and money with relatively simple changes.
Got any more tips? Leave them in the comments.