12 Ways to Put Your Home on an Energy Diet

Adopt one of these 12 home energy saving ideas and save money on utilities.

  1. Pull the Plug

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    Brinkworthelectric powerplug

    Brinkworth Electric

    FACT: Just because an appliance is turned off, that doesn't mean it's not drawing power. According to the energy experts at Cornell University,"vampire power" costs consumers $30 billion a year—or about $200 per household.  


    DIET PLAN: Unplug devices and appliances like countertop microwaves, cell phone chargers, and laptops when they are not in use (or once they are fully charged).

  2. Turn It Down

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    Myfrenchcuisine hotwaterheaterthermostat

    My French Cuisine

    FACT: Lowering the thermostat setting on your water heater is an easy way to save money; for each 10ºF you decrease the temperature, you can save 3%–5% in energy costs.  


    DIET PLAN: Some manufacturers set water heater thermostats at 140ºF, but a temperature of 120ºF is more than sufficient for most households. Check and reset yours if necessary.

  3. Change Filters

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    Readersdigest change furnace filter

    Reader's Digest

    FACT: You can save 5% to 15% on your heating and cooling costs by regularly cleaning or replacing the filters on your furnace and air conditioning unit, according to The Home Handyman.


    DIET PLAN: Different filters require different actions; fiberglass filters should be replaced monthly throughout the heating season, while permanent filters should be cleaned regularly. 

  4. Fill to the Max

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    Whirlpool dishwashercontrolpanel

    Whirlpool

    FACT: According to the California Energy Commission, a load of dishes cleaned in a dishwasher requires 37% less water than washing them by hand.


    DIET PLAN: Don't rinse dishes before loading and be sure to fill your dishwasher to its capacity before running. Save more by opening the door after the final rinse to let dishes air-dry naturally. Also, run the machine at night to benefit from off-peak rates. 

  5. Choose Cold Cycle

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    Womansday washing machine knob cold

    Woman's Day

    FACT: About 90% of the energy used to wash clothes goes toward heating the hot- and warm-water cycles.


    DIET PLAN: Opt for the cold cycle. With the advances in washers and laundry detergents, it's possible to get both white and colored clothes perfectly clean in cold water anyway.

  6. Program Your Thermostat

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    Underoneroofva.us the nest programmablethermostat2

    Under One Roof

    FACT: A programmable thermostat—one that lowers the temperature when you are away from home—can save you about $180 every year in energy costs.


    DIET PLAN: Replace your standard thermostat with one of the new programmable models (selling for as little as $50) or simply lower the temp when you leave the house. 

  7. Fix Those Leaks

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    Familyhandyman leakyfaucet

    The Family Handyman

    FACT:  If the average drip is between 1/5 and 1/3 ml, a single leaky faucet can be wasting anywhere from 10 to 30 gallons of water a day (or close to 4,000 gallons a year), according to Georgia Water Science Center .


    DIET PLAN: Regularly check all of your faucets for leaks, and when you discover them, fix them yourself or get them fixed as quickly as possible.

  8. Circulate Air

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    Motherearthnews ceiling fan

    Mother Earth News

    FACT: You can pay anywhere from 36 cents per hour to operate a room air conditioner, but a ceiling fan (running on medium) will cost roughly a penny for the same amount of time, according to The New York Times.


    DIET PLAN: Consider circulating the air rather than cooling it. And don't think that ceiling fans are only effective in the hot summer months. Reverse the direction during the winter to recirculate warm air collecting near the ceiling.

  9. Go Low Flow

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    Energy.gov lowflowshowerhead

    energy.gov

    FACT: According to the EPA's WaterSense, Americans use more than 1.2 trillion gallons of water while showering, marking it as one of the country's top residential water uses.


    DIET PLAN: Low-flow shower heads and faucet aerators allow you to save resources without sacrificing water pressure. By installing one you can save up to $285 per year for a family of four. Plan B: set a timer for shorter showers.

  10. Use Better Bulbs

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    Green.wikia sylvaniacfl

    green.wiki a.com

    FACT: If every American home replaced just one incandescent light bulb with an ENERGY STAR-certified variety, we would save enough energy to light 3 million homes for a year, according to the EPA.


    DIET PLAN: As your incandescent bulbs burn out, replace them with new, energy-efficient bulbs that are manufactured to use about 75% less energy and to last at least six times longer. 

  11. Seal Air Leaks

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    Kudzu installingweatherstripping rev

    Kudzu.com

    FACT: ENERGY STAR estimates that you can save up to 20% on heating and cooling costs (or up to 10% on your total annual energy bill) by making sure your home is adequately sealed and insulated.


    DIET PLAN: Be sure to seal leaks around windows, doors, electrical outlets and elsewhere with weatherstripping and caulk. Consider hiring a certified home energy rater to perform an energy audit on your home.  

  12. One Less Flush

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    Ehow flushingtoilet

    eHow

    FACT: If everyone in the US flushed the toilet just one time less per day, we could save the equivalent of a lake full of water about one square mile and four feet deep every day, according to Green Living Ideas.


    DIET PLAN: Flush less, repair leaky flappers, and retrofit the tank with water-conserving kits—or replace the toilet with one that carries the WaterSense seal (certified to use 1.28 gallons of water per flush). 

  13. It's Your Turn!

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    Apartmenttherapy top showerhead

    Apartment Therapy

    As you adopt New Year's Resolutions, be sure to do something for your home—and your wallet. Take the Bob Vila 2013 Energy Diet Challenge and let us know how you plan to make your home more efficient this year.  


    And if you're looking for more on energy-utility savings, consider:


    Water-Saving Fixtures


    Tankless Hot Water Heater: Should I or Shouldn't I?


    How To: Install a Ceiling Fan

  14. See the House of the Week

    Hotw600x450

    Discover and admire beautiful and innovative home architecture, from grand Victorians to quaint cabins and all the styles in between. Take a look at the latest images and inspiration!