It's easy to create a blanket plan for your housemates to save energy and reduce your power bills. If everybody just starts shutting the lights off when they leave a room, you'll likely see a an immediate (but small) dent. If you're ready to move to phase II, try this room-by-room plan for cutting your bills in the kitchen, home office, laundry room and living room.
In the Kitchen
- Reduce your refrigerator's thermostat and cut the amount of energy your kitchen's biggest power-guzzler can consume by as much as 25 percent. Aim for 37°F to 40°F in the fridge and 0°F to 5°F in the freezer.
- Clean the fridge coils. You can trim 5 percent from your refrigerator's operating cost by making sure the condenser coils are free from dust that can restrict air flow and force the unit to work harder. Need help, check out this post.
- Go old school and use ice trays. Sure, it's convenient, but by switching off the automatic ice maker and using trays, you can save about $12 to $18 off your annual electricity bill.
- Turn the oven off a few minutes before you're done cooking and don't open the oven door. As long as you don't open it up, there will be enough heat left in the oven to finish off your dish.
- Use the dishwasher. Plenty of people think they can save water and energy by hand washing dishes. The truth is that a dishwasher requires less than one-third the water it would take to do those same dishes in the sink.
- Save water and energy by only running the dishwasher when it's full. Proper load management can save up to $27 each year.
In the Living Room
- Drop the plasma TV. Your plasma screen is likely the biggest energy hog in your entire house. Go for an LCD or LED television instead.
- Go for rechargeable batteries. OK, so they won't cut down your power bill, but you can use the money you'll save on your Wiimotes' disposable batteries as a utility discount every month.
In the Home Office
- Make use of power-saving profiles. By juggling the appropriate power modes (like "active standby") and setting an automatic time-out feature on your computer, you can reduce your electricity costs by $25 to $75 per machine each year.
- Go for a laptop over a desktop. Laptops use one-third the power of a typical desktop, saving you about $19 each year.
In the Laundry Room
- Use cold water. Switching your washer's water settings from hot to cold when you do laundry can cut $215 per year off your electric bill.
- If you set the maximum spin speed in the washer, you can reduce the amount of time your dryer will take to get your load completely dry—cutting down the energy it uses in the process.
- Air dry, then machine dry. If you don't like the stiff feeling of air dried clothes, go half-and-half. Hang 'em on a line until your clothes are 90 percent dry, then pop them in the dryer machine for a few minutes at the "air dry" setting to loosen the fibers and finish the job—saving around $300 each year.
- Cleaning your dryer's lint filter and exhaust will let air flow freely and keep your dryer from working overtime. Clear the lint filter after every load, give it a soapy scrub down once a month and clean the dryer's exhaust once a year.