Is your fridge running up your electric bill? Well you better catch it! Conducting your own home energy audit often shows that it takes a lot of power to keep your food cold, especially if you're using an older model. One way to make sure your refrigerator is running as efficiently as possible is to check that it fastens tightly shut. Here's a simple and quick way to test the seals on your appliance's doors from the California Energy Commission — and all you'll need is one dollar. Take the bill and close the door on half of it, then try to pull it out. If the dollar slides out easily, that means you're probably wasting energy (and money) by letting the cold air leak out. If a new fridge is not in the budget, you can order a replacement seal for most appliances online or from the manufacturer directly.
Energy bills rise as soon as temperatures drop, but your home's heat may not be the only thing cranking up your bill each month. Before blaming the power company or accepting the astronomical bills, investigate the problem by conducting your own energy audit. An energy audit helps homeowners and renters locate where their pads are not being efficient, and provides insight on where improvement is needed. Grab a pen and paper and use these tips for inspecting your digs' energy efficiency.
If you're planning on vacationing this August, you know that you don't need to use as much energy at home while you're away as you would normally. But, I thought I'd give you a few reminders about how to cut back your energy use while you're off hitting the beach.
- Most people like to leave some lights on to be safe, so you appear to be home even when you're not. If you live in a city or neighborhood where that's necessary, just put a couple of your lights (facing the street) on timers to go on at night so your house doesn't appear vacant, but isn't hogging energy all day long.
- Aside from your refrigerator and freezer, you can turn off and unplug all of your major and smaller appliances. But, if you'll be gone for an extended period, consider emptying your fridge and freezer all together and unplugging them as well.
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In the high-tech world we live in, power strips are as essential as light bulbs. But just as you turn the lights off when you leave a room, you should also get in the habit of turning off your power strip when you're not using it. This helps prevent what eco experts call the "phantom load."
Basically, any time you have a piece of electronic equipment that is plugged in but in standby mode, it's leaking lots of power, wasting energy, and running up your electric bill. And according to Treehugger, it's not a paltry amount: The EPA estimates that 75 percent of energy used in the average home comes from appliances that are thought to be turned off but are merely in standby mode.
Similarly, phantom loads are also created when chargers for cell phones and other electronics are plugged in with nothing attached to them.
To solve the problem, plug your chargers and standby electronics into power strips, and when you're not using the devices, turn the power strips off. Just make sure that any appliances that need to stay on — like external hard drives, fridges, and so on — are plugged in separately.
There's a brutal heat wave pestering many parts of the South and the Midwest, and in the rest of the country, it's still pretty darn hot. So I thought I would share a few of Georgia Power's tips for staying cool without making your energy bill skyrocket. Got some ideas of your own to share? Tell us in the comments section below.
- Set your thermostat at 78 degrees or higher and leave it there. For every degree below that setting, you'll use 3 to 5 percent more electricity.
- Set the thermostat even higher when at work or away from home for long periods of time, but no more than five degrees higher.
- Change or clean your air conditioner filter regularly to maximize the unit's cooling potential.
- Adjust your ceiling fan to turn counterclockwise in the summer.
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