Lower Your Water Heater to 120 Degrees
“Most manufacturers set them to 140 degrees, but 120 is hot enough,” says David Nemtzow, director of the Building Technologies Office at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in Washington, D.C. With this minor tweak, you’ll cut costs 6 to 10 percent.
Turn Off the "Power Dry" Feature on Your Dishwasher
This setting was designed to speed up the drying process. But if you’re not going to run another load right away, there’s no need, according to Tom Kraeutler, host of The Money Pit, a nationally syndicated homeimprovement radio show. Plus, you’ll save about 30 percent on your dishwasher energy costs.
Switch to "Advanced" Power Strips
These multiprong bars reduce the electricity wasted when your desktop computer, printer, TV, phone charger, game console, etc. are idle. Nemtzow points out that these “energy vampires” can add nearly 10 percent to your monthly electric bill.
Replace Your Showerhead
“Water-efficient models are phenomenal these days—they deliver a stream that wakes you up in the morning,” says Kraeutler. He likes ones from American Standard, which use 40 percent less water than conventional showerheads and can save a family up to 8,000 gallons a year.
Upgrade your Insulation
It’s not sexy, but “it’s the number-one way to reduce your energy bill,” Kraeutler says. Peek into your attic. There should be 15 to 20 inches of insulation throughout; if not, hire a contractor or handyman to install it. (Kraeutler suggests looking for one at homeadvisor.com.)
Plant Trees Strategically
Positioned near the south or southwest corners of your home, deciduous trees (ones that lose their leaves in autumn) offer shade in summer and let in light in winter. The DOE estimates that they can cut energy costs by 15 to 50 percent. Gigi Saltonstall, principal at G2 Collaborative, a landscapearchitecture firm in Waltham, Massachusetts, loves the black tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica) for this job: “It has beautiful horizontal branching, and its fall color is a super-glossy cherry red,” she says.
Change to LED Bulbs Everywhere
According to the DOE, they’re six to seven times more energy-efficient than incandescent lights, cut energy use by more than 80 percent, and can last 25 times longer -- up to 10 to 20 years per bulb. They also come in limitless styles (design experts love Philips’s vintage-style Edison LED bulb, above, $9, homedepot.com). A tip from Barbara Bestor, principal at Barbara Bestor Architecture: “For warm light, buy bulbs that are 2,700 Kelvin or below,” or your space will feel like “an airport.”
Watch this video on organizing your closet. Picking out an outfit in the morning will be so much easier.