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15 Ways to Save Energy

written by: Lindsay Evans•edited by: Donna Cosmato•updated: 6/1/2010

You can find countless ways to save energy when you make energy conservation a priority in your life. Here are 15 energy saving ideas and tips to get you started.

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    15 Ways to Save Energy

    1. Get creative about your commute. Try your best to ride the bus or carpool to work at least a day or two a week. Is there any way you can work at home some days?

    2. Use your energy to get around. Try biking to work or, if that is impractical, leaving your bike at your workplace to use on short errands around town. On the weekends, see if you can do without your car and ride your bike or walk to the grocery store and the park.

    3. Trade in your gas-guzzler. With extra-efficient and hybrid vehicles on the market and our world's gasoline supply near it's peak, it is time to make your car's fuel-efficiency a top priority. When shopping for a new ride, buy the most efficient vehicle that will fit your needs. New small commuter cars like the Toyota Yaris get up to 30 miles per gallon in the city and into the upper 30's on the highway.

    4. Buy local. Purchasing locally made goods saves energy by cutting unnecessary transportation costs. Many times the cost savings is passed on to the consumer, making prices for local goods and services competitive with those from big chain stores or corporations. Look for locally grown food (including dairy), as well as locally made furniture, clothing, gifts, and other items. If your neighbor is a plumber, hire him the next time you need a plumber's services.

    5. Unplug electronics when not in use. At home and at work, make it a habit to unplug unused electronics. Many electronic items continue to suck energy from the grid even when the power is off. Energy vampires include DVD players, printers, microwaves, TVs, and stereos - or anything that displays lights or a clock after the power button is pushed. Getting into this habit can save between six and 26 percent of your average monthly electricity bill according to a 2001 survey by students and scientists at the University of California, Berkeley.

    6. Use the sun to your advantage. Don't habitually close the blinds and turn on the lights in your home or office when the sun's light is available. During the day open all blinds and make sure lights are turned off. Turn on the lights you need when you need them. Letting in sunlight during the colder months of the year may also help lower heating costs.

    7. Use efficient appliances. Your standard appliances may work just fine, but consider upgrading to new ultra-efficient models (you could donate your old ones to people in need or have them recycled). Appliances manufactured in the last few years are significantly more energy efficient than their predecessors - washers and dishwashers use a fraction of the water, too.

    8. Switch to compact florescent light bulbs (CFLs). CFLs are reasonably priced and readily available to fit most light fixtures. Their energy savings is not to be overlooked - CFLs use up to 75% less energy than standard bulbs and can save more than $30 off your energy bill over the life of each bulb. To put their importance in perspective, consider that the US government's Energy Star website states: "if every American home replaced just one light bulb with an Energy Star qualified bulb, we would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes for a year, more than $600 million in annual energy costs, and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of more than 800,000 cars."

    9. Line-dry your clothes. Let's face it - if you had to live without your clothes dryer, you could. It may be inconvenient at times, but learning to be less reliant on your dryer can save loads of energy. Buy expandable racks to use inside for drying clothes and install a clothesline outside, if possible, for use in the summer. If you need your line-dried towels fluffy throw them in the dryer on the fluff cycle (no heat).

    10. Wash clothes in cold water. Most laundry can be washed on a cold cycle and come out just as clean as if you'd used warm water. Use non-chlorine bleach or a few drops of tea tree oil in your load to freshen if necessary.

    11. Take shorter showers and install a low-flow shower head. Saving hot water means saving the energy used by your hot water heater.

    12. Keep your freezer full. Your freezer uses less energy maintaining the temperature if it is full. If you do not keep much frozen food around, fill empty containers from yogurt or deli items with water and stock your freezer with them.

    13. Add or remove clothing to stay comfortable. If the temperature inside is not just right don't act first by adjusting the thermostat - try to bear it by adjusting your clothing instead.

    14. Run full dishwasher loads. Many studies have shown running full dishwasher loads saves energy over hand-washing dishes. This is true especially if you have a new ultra-efficient dishwasher.

    15. Turn unnecessary lights off. Everyone in your household or office should know to turn off the lights in a room if they are the last ones out. Keep nighttime outside lighting to a minimum and consider installing dimmer switches anywhere lighting can be turned down.