Amy Suarez | |

Utility bill’s gotta smart!
Economising on energy, or water, or other resources comes naturally to people living off the grid. But the off-grid ways of life can also help grid-tied householders reduce consumption and save money.

These simple ideas do not require a big investment: we are not about to recommend you spend a lot of money on something like an energy-efficient heating/cooling system or expensive CFLs for your house. Nor do you have to invest a lot of time researching product ingredient lists and do-it-yourself projects. While these things all play key roles in moving toward a more sustainable lifestyle, there is plenty you can do in your home right now to make it more energy efficient and save you money, shrink your home’s carbon footprint, and it will hardly cost you a dime. You’re probably even doing some of these already without realizing how “green” you really are.

1 A dishwasher uses more energy to dry dishes than to wash them. If your dishwasher doesn’t have an automatic air-dry switch, turn off the control knob after the final rinse and prop the door open to let moisture escape.

2 Keep heating vents clear of furniture and clutter, allowing air to circulate freely.

3 Turn off the lights when you’re not going to be in a room or when a sunny day makes them unnecessary.

4 Close doors to the outside to keep heated or cooled air in. It’s tempting to leave the door open behind you when you’re making a “quick” trip to the garage – but it will take less energy from you to pull the door closed behind you than it will take your air conditioner or furnace to make up for the loss.

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5 If you have room, hang your clothes out to dry instead of drying. Dryers use an incredible amount of energy (often the second biggest energy hog in your home, after your furnace.)

6 Clean refrigerator coils twice a year, more if you have pets. Condenser coils are located at the bottom or rear of your refrigerator. If they are allowed to accumulate dust and dirt, as much as 25 percent more energy is required to maintain proper temperature.

7 Keep your refrigerator and freezer full – less cold air will be lost when the refrigerator and freezer doors are opened if there are plenty of items inside to help retain it.

8 When it’s time to give the oven a good cleaning, use the self-cleaning feature right after you’ve used it to bake something – you will use less energy to get the oven to the necessary temp since it will already be hot.

9 Never turn your thermostat way up or way down to speed heating or cooling. This forces your unit to work harder, stay on longer and use more energy.

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