But there are easy things you can do to cut down on your use of electricity, and hence, curb your bills, Early Show consumer correspondent Susan Koeppen explained Thursday:
Twenty percent of our energy costs come from appliances, with the frig and washer and dryer at the top of the energy-gobblers list, says the Energy Department. If you have appliances that need to be replaced, consider buying ones that carry the Energy Star label -- they can save you up to 30 percent!
If you don't plan to replace your appliances, there are some simple steps to take to cut costs. It's easy to cut your energy consumption when doing laundry, for instance. About 80 - 85 percent of the energy used for washing clothes goes for heating the water. You can reduce that cost by using less water (by washing full loads) and using cool water and cold-water detergents. Switching the temperature setting from hot to warm cuts a load's energy use in half, ands washing in cold water can save $73 dollars a year, the energy alliance says.
Ten percent of your electric bill goes for lighting. So, look at every light bulb in your house. You can easily switch many of them from 100 watt to 60 or 75 watts. Even better, replace bulbs with energy-saver bulbs; fluorescent bulbs last ten-times longer. If everyone in the country replaced just one bulb with one fluorescent bulb, we'd save $600 million a year, the Energy Department says.
People always wonder about leaving computers running -- should they be shut them down, or does it take more energy to power them up each time? There is a power surge when you power up your computer, but it doesn't use as much energy as leaving it running all day. Rule of thumb: Turn off your monitor if you're going to be gone for 20 minutes or more. Turn off everything if you're going to be away from the computer for two hours or more, suggests the Energy Department.
Electronic Items In General
Electronic items (TVs, chargers, etc.) and appliances still draw power, even when they're turned off. So, it's important to unplug everything when you're not using it. Stand-by power can account for as much as 20 percent of home energy use, the Department of Energy notes. Use a power strip to plug in everything, so when items aren't in use, you can just click the "off" switch on the power strip to "disconnect" everything at once!
A family of four taking five-minute showers every day uses 700 gallons of water a week. To cut that in half, install low-flow shower heads, the Energy Department advises.
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