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Reader Tips on How to Save Energy


Here are some great tips that a reader sent to me to share with you on how you can save energy:

“There are a number of simple ways to save on energy costs on the cheap.

1. CFLs-Those weird light bulbs work. The lifetime cost is much less than the equivalent light of incandescent bulbs. They do, however, have a colder light and therefore need to be covered with a warm colored shade. Then they look just fine.

2. Unplugging appliances works wonders.

3. Weather-stripping and caulking can ultimately save you on energy for not too much money.

4. Turn your water heater down to 120 and use an insulating blanket if it is warm to the touch. Turn it off completely when away on vacation.

5. Install a 1.5 gal/minute low flow shower head. Most low flows are 2.5 gal/min and cost more. The 1.5 gal is about $5 at Ace hardware, is easy to install, and will save on electricity and water costs at no reduction in shower quality. Also, baths use more energy and water than showers.

6. Keep the fridge and freezer full with food OR with tap water in gallon jugs in the fridge and bags of ice in the freezer. Clean the coils on the back of the fridge. Give the back of the fridge some breathing room. Open the doors less.

7. Microwaving uses less energy than the stove. If you do use the stove, use the correct sized pad for the pot and don’t open the door to the oven too much. If you have pilot lights constantly going on your stove, reach around and turn off the gas until you need it.

8. Your cell phone may have an alarm on it that works just as well as an energy sucking plug-in clock.”

Thank you for the great tips!


  • Reply Amanda |

    Just a reminder that CFLs contain mercury and should not be thrown in the trash. You can recycle them at Ikea. 🙂

  • Reply Jen |

    Programmable thermostats are also good money savers. I have them and it turns out that this winter the temp was set above 60 only 10% of the time. If you heat/cool your place for only 17 hours/week instead of 168 hours/week that’s a lot of savings!

  • Reply Jim |

    Those CFLs should be used where you are frequently using the lights because they last a long time. Not all bulbs should be replaced with those (i.e. bathroom vanity light bulbs), it’s not cost effective. I’ve been using CFLs for years and it really does save money after the initial investment. Amanda is correct though, they DO contain levels of mercury and should be properly disposed if they ever burn out (haha).

    Unplugging appliances is not going to matter if they don’t draw an active current. Cell phone charger, battery charger, TV, washer, dryer, these things do not run all the time just because they’re plugged in. Clocks on a VCR (do people still have these?) and the old plug in alarm clock (I still use mine!) do draw active current.

    Weather proofing your home should be done properly. Buy proper insulation, hard foam helps too, and spray foam in the gaps (attic and/or basement). Windows and doors should have proper weather stripping since they leak the most. When caulking anything, buy good quality caulk, it may be more expensive, but if you go the cheap route just plan on doing it again later.

    I’m not a fan of the microwave either in terms of cooking something. Propane is cheaper to cook with than an electric microwave. I will add this, electric and gas rates do vary depending where you live (Illinois lost the 10 year electric rate freeze, and up it went), and if electric is cheaper than gas, that’s your call.

    There’s a lot of common sense tips though like shut off the lights, don’t let the water run, keeping that thermostat lower in the winter and higher in the summer, change the air filter on the furnace twice a year or about every 6 months.

  • Reply Melissa |

    Don’t forget about letting food cool before putting it in the fridge! This can save quite a bit of energy since putting hot food in the fridge forces the fridge to work harder to maintain the cold temperature.

  • Reply Chris |

    Jim, TVs do draw a constant current because they are always in standby mode. Otherwise you would not be able to use your remote to turn them on.

    Any charger that converts an AC input to DC output also draws a small current even when not in use.

    There are some interesting products that may make it to the mainstream market in the next decade, including easy-setup solar panels that can reduce the impact of low powered electronic items in your home.

    One thing I’ve wondered about those panels is that when everything is off, people claim they can sell that power back to their electric company. I know the power company is set up to bill you for us, but can their billing system credit you for such a setup? I think that might vary from company to company.

    Unfortunately for many new suburban neighborhoods the HOA may prohibit solar panels on rooftops…which is just a sad shame (as if black asphalt tiles are any prettier?).

  • Reply Plus6 |

    Very good energy saving tips…I recently wrote a post that ties into this as well:


    There are lots of new energy saving products coming to the market that have a larger upfront cost than standard products, but produce savings in the long run.

  • Reply Da big D |

    Solare panels do “sell” it back to the electric company. My best month ever was $5!! What actually happens is you get a two way meter. When you use power it bills you, when you “sell” the power back it removes it from the meter. It works well and during the high noon sun you can watch it turning back really fast!!!

  • Reply Chris |

    Da big…that makes perfect sense. I guess my question was if by some chance you produced more of your own power than you used from the electric company (say one month you were on vacation with no power running and your solars soaking up the sun all day) would the electric company write you a check?

  • Reply kay |

    I live in the upper midwest USA and to completely turn off your water heater while on vacation is complete madness, at least 7 months out of the year. During fall, winter and spring I will turn mine down to a minimum of 50 degrees when I go away for a period of time. Otherwise the pipes could freeze and burst, which would be far more costly than the small amount of money it kept to keep the water heater working.

  • Reply Brenna |

    Instead of being at home with the AC on during the hot summer days – head to the mall, or the movies for their cool places.

So, what do you think ?