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Five Simple Ways To Save Energy-And Money

Green energy is a huge topic these days. For those who live in sunny climates, solar panels for either water heating or electrical generation are worthy of serious consideration. Those living in wind-prone zones will find some attractive options for generating power from that source. But even with tax incentives, these are both fairly expensive projects, out of reach of most homeowners. So if you can't generate wind, solar, geothermal, or hydroelectric power in your back yard, the best solution is to implement as many energy-saving steps as you can.

  1. Replace your light bulbs with green bulbs. No, you won't have to walk around looking like Shrek--it's the other sort of "green." Mini fluorescent bulbs give the same amount of light as an incandescent bulb, but use only a fraction electrical energy to do so. In fact, these bulbs save 75 percent of the energy and last ten times longer than incandescent, and will pay for themselves in six months.
  2. When purchasing appliances, make sure that have earned the "Energy Star." This is a government rating that indicates the appliance has been certified to use advanced technologies that reduce its energy usage by 10 percent to 50 percent. Energy Star-rated devices that use water, such as washing machines and dishwashers, also use less water.
  3. Turn off appliances when not in use. Go around the house and count how many electrical appliances you have. You will be shocked at the number. Many of them draw power even when not in use, so it's a good idea to unplug and seldom-used appliances. This goes for the TV in the guest bedroom, chargers for your myriad portable electronic devices, even the toaster oven and electric mixer.
  4. Assess your computer usage. If you use your computer for business or other use most of your waking hours, program it to go into energy-saving or sleep mode after a short idle period. If you use it for brief periods at widely spaced intervals, consider turning it off completely when you are not using it.
  5. Install a programmable thermostat and program it to reduce heat (or cooling) when the house is vacant and during the night hours. This saves electricity by reducing the time the blower operates, and also reduces the use of heating fuel.

Since the average home spends about $2200 per year on energy, even a savings of 10 percent to 20 percent can be significant. Putting green in your energy usage also puts green in your pocket.