It’s in the label
Equipment such as computers,
printers, refrigerators, fans and air conditioners that meet Energy Star requirements use less energy. They do this by
smart design and by “sleep” functions
that turn down the machines when
they’re not in use. The Energy Star label
can now be found on some 50 types
There’s an added bonus to adopting energy-saving tips and appliances.
They help protect the environment.
Expect to save about 20 percent annually on total energy costs—while being
a good environmental citizen.
Energy Star, a joint program of
the EPA and the U.S. Department of
Energy, offers more energy-saving tips
for homes on its Web site, www.energy
star.gov/home. Energy Star also offers
an interactive feature on its Web site
for information about your particular
home setting. Click on “Home Energy
Yardstick” to access this feature.
KEEPING ENERGY COSTS DOWN at home is a smart move for a couple of
reasons: It saves you money, and it’s good for the environment. The good
news is that many energy-saving steps don’t require significant expenditures:
They can be as small as changing light bulbs or adding insulation strips around
doors. And in many cases, saving energy is simply a matter of changing habits.
Here are some energy-smart tips for the home from Energy Star, a govern-ment-backed program that promotes energy conservation.
Seal your home
If you add up all the hidden air leaks in your home, they can equal a hole
the size of an open window—and can lead to higher energy bills by allowing
heat or cool air to escape. Sealing air leaks and adding insulation—paying special attention to the attic and basement, where the biggest gaps and cracks are
often found—will keep air inside where it belongs and help your equipment
perform more efficiently. For more information, get the Environmental
Protection Agency’s (EPA) “Guide to Energy-Efficient Heating and Cooling”
and “A DIY Guide to ENERGY STAR Home Sealing” at
Maintain your equipment
Dirt and neglect are the No. 1 causes of heating- and cooling-system failure. Schedule a fall checkup of your heating system with a licensed contractor.
Also, clean or change your system’s air filter once a month to prevent increased
energy costs and system failure. You’ll recoup the costs of maintenance through
lower energy bills.
Use a thermostat
Using a programmable thermostat to regulate your home’s temperature
saves energy by offering convenient, preprogrammed temperature settings
that scale temperatures down when you are away and up when you return.
This can save as much as $150 every year in energy costs.
Use a ceiling fan
Even in winter a ceiling fan can help improve comfort. Most fans have a
switch that allows you to reverse the motor and operate the ceiling fan at low
speed in the clockwise direction. This produces a gentle updraft, which forces
warm air near the ceiling down into the occupied space. For the summer,
fans cool people by creating a wind-chill effect against their skin. So there’s
no reason to leave the fan on when nobody is in the room.
Change your lights
Replacing traditional light bulbs with new compact fluorescent lights
(CFLs) can significantly reduce your energy usage. CFLs provide the same
amount of light while requiring less energy than older lights.—Tim Talevich