Top 10 Ways to be More Energy Efficient and Green in 2008

“Going green” and “reducing your carbon footprint” are all the rage, but these trendy concepts are nothing new for the Alliance to Save Energy. That’s because you can’t be green without minimizing your energy use; and energy efficiency has always been and remains the quickest, most cost-effective way to use less energy – and the amount of pollution you produce. The added benefits: While lowering your household energy bills, energy efficiency doesn’t require sacrificing comfort or convenience, and it will increase your indoor comfort.

It’s just a matter of taking simple steps with your home and vehicles and employing today’s widely available, easy-to-use energy-efficiency technologies. You’ll not only ease the strain of today’s high energy prices on your household budget, you’ll also shrink the greenhouse gases and other global warming pollutants you spew into the atmosphere.

Here are the Alliance to Save Energy’s Top 10 Ways to be More Energy Efficient and Green in 2008:

10) Remember when your mom would ask, “Do you think we own stock in the electric company??!!” Take her sage advice and turn off lights, computers, TVs, stereos, etc. when you are done using them.

9) Green means clean – air filters, that is. Clean or replace HVAC filters regularly, whether you have a central heating and/or cooling system or window air conditioners.

8) Don’t let “vampire energy use” – aka “standby power” – suck your wallet dry. Instead, look for the ENERGY STAR label on electronics – TVs, VCRs, CD players, DVD players, cordless telephones, and more that continue to use less electricity in the “off” mode to keep display clocks lit and memory chips and remote controls working.

7) Keep on rolling – efficiently – down the highway. Keep your tires properly inflated to improve gas mileage by about 3.3 percent. You could save more than 20 gallons of gasoline per year, which amounts to about $60 per car annually and about $120 per typical two-vehicle U.S. household with gasoline at $3/gallon. Added benefits: Extended tire life and avoidance of more than 390 pounds of CO2 production per vehicle yearly.

6) “Show the love” to your car by keeping it in good working order. Fixing a car that is noticeably “out of tune” or has failed an emissions test can improve gas mileage by an average of 4 percent. That amounts to nearly 25 gallons of gasoline per year, or savings of about $80 per vehicle per year or about $160 per household. Added benefit: Savings of nearly 500 pounds of C02 per vehicle, or 1,000 pounds per household.

5) Generate light, not heat, with ENERGY STAR qualified lighting such as compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). Energy-efficient lighting products use 3/4 less energy than standard incandescent lighting and last up to 10 times longer. So despite their higher up-front cost, they yield lifetime savings of up to $50 per bulb. Added benefit: CFLs generate 70 percent less heat than incandescents, so they don’t add to the summer heating load that your AC needs to cool down.

4) Don’t waste money and pollution by heating or cooling an empty house. When installed and properly programmed to follow your daily and weekly patterns, a programmable thermostat can cut heating and cooling costs by about 10 percent – enough, in most cases, to pay for the device within one season and then yield home energy savings of about $150 a year. Added benefit: When the thermostat “remembers for you” to adjust the temperature when no one is home, you come home to a comfortable house yet have not wasted money or polluted unnecessarily.

3) Reach for the stars – the ENERGY STARs, that is. ENERGY STAR qualified products can cut related electricity costs by up to 30 percent. More than 50 categories of products are now labeled with this government “seal of approval” for energy efficiency. In addition to electronics and lighting (see tip numbers 8 and 5), they also include appliances, HVAC systems, windows, and more (see for a complete rundown).

2) Don’t waste money and energy heating and cooling the great outdoors, either! Make sure you have the proper amount of insulation for your climate, and seal leaks around doors and windows to cut your heating and cooling bills by up to 20 percent. With home energy costs estimated at $2,200 for the average U.S. household in 2008, and just over half of that going for heating and cooling, those savings can amount to about $225. Added benefit: Eliminate drafts and hot and cold spots for greater indoor comfort.

1) Slow down and save! Each 5 miles per hour you drive over 60 mph costs you about 20 cents more per gallon of gasoline. And aggressive driving habits – speeding, rapid acceleration and braking – can lower gas mileage by a whopping 33 percent at highway speeds and 5 percent around town. But driving sensibly can save up to 200 gallons of gasoline per year at highway speeds, or about $600 per car and about $1,200 per household with gasoline prices at $3/gallon. Added benefit: Avoiding up to 4,000 pounds of CO2 per car/8,000 per household.

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