With energy prices rising across the nation, the economy struggling and temperatures dropping, reducing monthly bills has never been more important. The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) and New Jersey's Clean Energy Program™ offer tips on how New Jersey residents can reduce their energy usage to lower utility bills and minimize environmental impact.
"There are steps New Jerseyans can take right now to keep energy costs under control," said BPU President Jeanne M. Fox. "From seasonal tips to product rebates and whole-house energy solutions, New Jersey's Clean Energy Program provides the resources that we need to invest in our energy future and become a part of Governor Corzine's goal of reducing the state's overall energy use 20 percent by 2020."
Following are 10 simple ways to save energy at home:
1. Use a programmable thermostat. An ENERGY STAR® qualified, programmable thermostat regulates cooling and heating systems. Programmable thermostats automatically reduce the temperature during the times residents are at work and bring it back to the preferred level about half an hour before their scheduled return. That way, residents don't pay as much to heat an empty home.
2. Switch to energy efficient lighting. ENERGY STAR qualified lighting produces 75 percent less heat, uses 75 percent less energy and lasts up to 10 times longer than a standard incandescent bulb. One ENERGY STAR qualified compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL) can save $30 in energy costs and reduces carbon dioxide emissions by almost 700 pounds over its lifetime.
3. Turn it off. Unplug cell phone chargers, computers, televisions and battery chargers when they are not in use. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the average household spends $100 a year to power devices in the standby power mode.
4. Test your home. Home Performance with ENERGY STAR can reduce energy use and costs by up to 30 percent. By taking a whole-house approach to energy efficiency, contractors, accredited by the Building Performance Institute, will look for opportunities to improve a home's insulation, heating and cooling systems, windows, appliances, and lighting to increase energy efficiency, comfort, health, and safety. Homeowners receive a detailed assessment listing possible improvements, how much each option costs, and how much money each improvement will save on monthly bills at today's energy prices. Additionally, low-interest financing - or up to 50 percent cash back - is available for eligible improvements.
5. Fill it up. Run your dishwasher with a full load and use the air-dry option instead of the auto-dry feature.
6. Replace old clothes washers and get cash back. Receive $50 or $75 rebate on select ENERGY STAR qualified clothes washers. ENERGY STAR qualified clothes washers cut energy and water consumption by over 40 percent. With any clothes washer, it is best to run the clothes washer with a full load and use the cold water setting.
7. Maintain the refrigerator. Position the refrigerator away from heat sources, such as the oven, dishwasher, or direct sunlight, while leaving a space between the walls or cabinets and the refrigerator, so that air can circulate. Also clean the refrigerator coils at least twice a year and limit the amount of time the refrigerator door is open. When shopping for a new refrigerator, always look for the ENERGY STAR label. ENERGY STAR qualified models use at least 20 percent less energy than conventional models.
8. Upgrade your heating system. Heating and cooling accounts for about half of a home's energy use, so upgrading these systems can have a big impact on utility bills. Get a rebate of up to $400 on qualified heating equipment through WARMAdvantage.
9. Lower your water heater temperature to 120 degrees. For added savings, have your water heater wrapped with an insulation blanket
10. Get a whole-house solution. Income-eligible families qualify for the free installation of energy efficient measures through the state's Comfort Partners program. Receive a personalized plan to reduce energy bills by 15 to 35 percent through upgrades like efficient lighting, hot water heating, thermostats, insulation, duct sealing, air sealing or heating and cooling equipment.
For more information about incentives and programs, visit www.njcleanenergy.com or call 1-866-NJSMART (1-866-657-6278).