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7 ways to save energy this summer

May 14, 2010 at 10:15 am | Category: Remodeling Contractor



If your idea of conserving energy during the summer months is lying very, very still on a hammock for long periods of time, I hear you. But as the prices of pretty much everything in our lives keep going up (and our salaries don’t), it pays to think about conserving energy in the home, too. Here are 7 easy ways to use, and thus pay for, less energy.

1. Air-dry beach towels. Using a towel for 2 minutes to pat swimming pool water off your 8-year-old’s body does not necessarily make it dirty. Think about whether a beach towel needs to be washed before you automatically dump it in the laundry, and if you do wash it, air dry the towel whenever possible. Beach towels are much thicker than regular towels and require a lot more energy to dry. Why not toss them over the porch railing to air out in the sun instead?

2. Take shorter showers. Studies show that the average teenager spends a whopping 45 minutes in the shower. 45 minutes! Encourage your kids to cut down on their American Idol practice time, and remind your husband that men who shave in the shower are wasting water, too, to the tune of several gallons. Bottom line: If you’re not actively sudsing or rinsing, turn the water off.

3. Unplug your TV. It’s probably not news to any of you at this point that all plugged-in electronics constantly suck energy even when they’re “turned off,” but recently, the triple threat of flat screen TVs, cable boxes, and DVR devices have officially overtaken refrigerators as the biggest energy drain in American homes. And while the fridge at least has an excuse for being plugged in all the time, the TV really does not. Plug all those devices into a power strip and turn the whole thing off when you’re not watching. If you can’t commit to a regular unplugging regimen, at the very least make sure the set is unplugged when you go on vacation for a week. (While you’re at it, unplug computer printers, coffee makers and extra phone chargers when you’re going to be gone for a few days. Don’t forget to do the same at the office—just because you’re not paying the bill doesn’t mean you should waste the power.)

4. Remember what I said about the refrigerator and the energy suck? The good news is, every year refrigerators are getting more energy efficient, and it’s almost hard NOT to buy one with an Energy Star rating these days. The downside is that many people, upon upgrading to a better refrigerator, just move the old one to the garage and keep using it. But consider this: “There’s a reason you replaced the old one—it was too small, it didn’t work well, it was inefficient—so why would you keep it around?” Keane says. Think long and hard about what exactly you so desperately need to keep in deep-freeze storage. Extra ice for parties? Buy an ice chest. That 40 pounds of moose meat you ordered online from your meat-of-the-month club? I have no advice for you, other than reevaluate what’s in your main freezer and check out Energy Star’s Recycle My Old Fridge Campaign web site for information on responsible old-fridge disposal.

5. Really turn off your home computer. 75% of the energy used by home computers is used when the owner thinks the computer is turned off. “Sleep” does not equal off: Learn it, love it, live it.

6. Weather-strip your doors. “It’s just as important in the summer as in the winter,” Keane says. If you want to keep your air conditioning inside the house, make sure that your home’s doors have the proper seals. (Bonus: weather stripping is incredibly cheap—we’re talking $1.50 a roll—and as easy to apply as a piece of tape.) And of course, make sure all your windows are closed when the air conditioner’s running. What are you trying to do, cool the whole neighborhood?

7. Get your water heater checked. Schedule an appointment with your plumber (or ask him to stick around the next time he comes to fix something else) and have him check the settings on your water heater. Although many water heaters are set at 140 degrees Fahrenheit, most homes only need 120 degrees for appliances to function properly. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that lowering your water temperature by ten degrees will save you 3 to 5% in energy costs (not to mention lower your risk of scalding).


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