As Politicians Bicker Over Energy Policy in Washington Alliance to Save Energy Offers Frustrated Consumers Money $aving Tips to Cut Summer Home, Car Energy Bills, Pollution
What's a frustrated consumer to do to cut energy bills, maintain a comfortable lifestyle, and help extend our nation's energy supply while politicians hotly debate energy policy in a climate of high energy prices and electricity reliability problems?
The Alliance to Save Energy offers consumers a wide variety of tips to fit individual pocketbooks and needs this summer, ranging from no cost/low-cost to money-saving investments in energy-efficiency improvements in their homes.
NO COST OR LOW-COST
- Listen to your mother. ("What do you think, we own the electric company?") Turn off everything not in use: lights, TVs, computers.
- "4 for the Planet." Just replace your four most used 100-watt incandescent bulbs with four comparable 23-watt compact fluorescent bulbs to save $82 over three years. If all U.S. households did this, we'd save as much energy as is produced by 30 power plants annually.
- Keep your cool and lower your costs. Ceiling and other fans provide additional cooling and better circulation so you can raise the thermostat and cut down on air conditioning costs.
- Cooling and heating account for almost half of the average family's energy bill. Clean or replace air conditioner filters monthly. Make sure your air conditioning equipment is properly maintained with a professional tune-up.
- Tired of coming home to a sweltering house on hot summer days? A programmable thermostat automatically coordinates indoor climates with your daily and weekend patterns, increasing home comfort and reducing energy waste.
- No more peeping Toms. Close blinds or shades on the south- and west-facing windows of the house during the day or install shading devices. Plant vines and trees.
- Activate "sleep" features on computers and office appliances that power down when the equipment is not in use for a while. A web site has been set up to help consumers enable "sleep mode" settings for their computer monitors and make sure these power management settings are optimized. Further, turn off equipment during long periods of non-use to cut costs and improve longevity.
- Consider safer, more efficient ENERGY STAR torchiere lamps over popular halogen torchiere lamps, which can CAUSE FIRES, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. While relatively inexpensive to purchase, they are expensive to operate.
- Shift energy-intensive tasks - laundry and dishwashing - to off-peak energy demand hours to increase electricity reliability during heat waves.
- Do full loads when you use clothes washers, dryers, and dishwashers.
- Use dimmers, timers, and motion detectors on indoor and outdoor lighting.
- Car tips. Properly inflate tires. Under inflated tires can increase fuel consumption by six percent. Avoid jack-rabbit starts: accelerate slowly when starting from a dead start. Combine your errands into one trip to save on fuel. Keep your car properly tuned up and change your air filter.
ENERGY EFFICIENCY INVESTMENTS
- Refinancing your home because of lower interest rates? Consider wrapping in energy-efficiency home improvements that would reduce your monthly energy bills. Interest would be tax deductible.
- Earn 50 percent returns on your investment by installing insulation and weather stripping to cut your heating and air conditioning costs. Insulate your attic, which can reach temperatures of 115 degrees!
- To cut your utility bills by 30 percent, look for the ENERGY STAR label, the symbol for energy efficiency, when shopping for room air conditioners, major appliances, lighting, and home electronics. Find retailers near you at www.energystar.gov. For central air conditioning systems, make sure the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) is 12 or higher.
- Plug surprising energy "leaks." Your idle (turned off) electronics and appliances -- TVs, VCRs, cable boxes, CD players, cassette decks, and microwaves -- continue to consume electricity to keep display clocks lit and memory chips and remote controls working-costing consumers $3 billion annually. When replacing items, look for the ENERGY STAR label.
- Go "window shopping" at the Efficient Windows Collaborative website. You'll learn how high-performance ENERGY STAR windows can reduce average cooling costs from 15 to 35 percent in central and southern climate zones by filtering in visible light and filtering out heat waves.
- Buying a new home or vehicle? ENERGY STAR homes can improve your home's resale value by $20 for every $1 reduction in utility costs and reduce pollution. Find participating builders and developers in your area at www.energystar.gov/homes. Select fuel-efficient cars and the most fuel efficient SUVs at www.fueleconomy.com.