In this report
Overview
How to save
25 simple ways to save

25 simple ways to save

Last reviewed: August 2009
  1. Clean the coils behind or underneath your refrigerator with a tapered appliance brush to keep it running efficiently.
  2. Skip prerinsing dishes. Our tests have found that it¹s unnecessary, and you'll save up to 6,500 gallons of water per year.
  3. Opt for the cold-water wash cycle and save about $60 a year.
  4. Put your PC to sleep. Save $25 to $75 each year by using the system standby or hibernating feature on your computer.
  5. Plug electronics into a power strip so that you can turn them all off at once.
  6. Don't overload the dryer. Clothes will take longer to dry, and they'll come out wrinkled. When the weather is warm, line dry.
  7. Open blinds and shades on cold days. Solar heat gain can raise interior temperature significantly. But close them at night to minimize heat loss.
  8. Dust off the slow cooker. You'll use a lot less energy than cooking a meal across several burners and in the oven.
  9. Keep car tires properly inflated. In our tests of a Toyota Camry, fuel efficiency dropped 1.3 mpg when the tires were deflated by 10 psi.
  10. See whether your utility company offers rebates to customers who replace old appliances with energy-efficient models. Some states hold periodic "tax holidays" for purchases of energy-efficient appliances.
  11. Lower the temperature a degree or two before guests arrive. A house full of people generates a lot of body heat.
  12. Clean or replace furnace filters monthly during the heating season. Clogged filters force the blower to work longer, raising your electric bills.
  13. String LED lights this holiday season. They last longer. Our tests have shown that they can save up to $11 per season.
  14. Insulate and seal cracks and gaps in your ducts. That can help reduce energy costs by 30 percent.
  15. Lower water-heater temperature to 120 degrees from 130 and insulate hot-water pipes to knock up to 5 percent off your energy bills.
  16. Weather-strip old windows and doors. It's the surest way to close the gaps around openings, reducing heating and cooling costs by 15 to 30 percent.
  17. Control outdoor lights with sensors or timers so that fixtures stay off during the day.
  18. Install a high-efficiency showerhead. It will reduce hot water use by up to 50 percent.
  19. Upgrade to a low-flow toilet and save 4,000 gallons per year.
  20. Drain a bucket's worth of water from your water heater a few times a year to remove sediment, which can decrease efficiency.
  21. Move the thermostat to an inside wall away from windows and doors so that drafts don't cause the heating system to cycle on unnecessarily.
  22. Add insulation. An estimated 80 percent of older homes are underinsulated. Properly insulating and sealing your home can cut your heating and cooling bills by 10 percent.
  23. Plant a deciduous shade tree on the west and southwest sides of a house to save energy.
  24. Zone heat smartly. A portable heater in a room saves money only if you're willing to keep the rest of the house chilly. Wood-burning fireplaces can suck more heat from your home than they put back in.
  25. Call a professional energy auditor. They use a blower door or infrared photography to pinpoint where your home is leaking energy. Some utilities provide free audits; you can also find certified professionals in your area through www.resnet.us.
Posted: September 2008 — Consumer Reports Magazine issue: October 2008