Spring, when you’re generally not dependent on heating or air-conditioning, is the perfect time to assess your home-energy use. Consider the following five ways (and six “Green Gadgets”) to start saving oil, gas, kilowatts -- and, of course, money.
1. Optimize your heat and central air-conditioning. Investing in a programmable thermostat that adjusts the temperature according to your daily schedule can translate into big savings, since you won’t waste money on climate control when you’re out. “Heating and cooling usually make up about 50 percent of a home’s energy costs,” says Merrilee Harrigan, senior education adviser at Alliance to Save Energy, in Washington, D.C.
2. Fight “vampire power” drain. Smart power strips sense when an electronic device or charger is plugged in but not actually in use, and stop generating current. This reduces the “vampire power” of electronics in standby mode, which costs the average American household an estimated $100 each year.
3. Control electronics remotely. A power switch that can be turned on or off with a smartphone means you no longer have to leave a window-unit air conditioner running all day to avoid returning to a sweltering home. Simply program it to run during certain periods of time.
4. Automatically turn off lights in empty rooms. “Lighting accounts for 12 percent of most energy bills,” says Harrigan. Switches that perceive when someone has entered or left a room -- and turn on and off accordingly -- can significantly whittle those costs.
5. Track your energy use. Curious as to which appliance requires the most electricity, or just how much vampire power your devices are sucking up? A watt meter will tell you exactly, so you can better understand your use.