Keeping a little money in your pocket and starting energy-saving habits doesn’t require sweeping lifestyle changes or expensive home improvement projects. By saying goodbye to energy-guzzling habits, you can instantly cut your utility bills and carbon footprint.

1. Be a Switch Flipper for Energy-Saving

House lights generate about 10 percent of the electricity bill. In addition to flipping the lights off when you leave a room, you can trim the charges by installing smart light switches. Motion sensors, which automatically turn lights off and on, work well outdoors, in laundry rooms and in hallways.

Timers regulate when lamps turn on, and dimmers in living rooms and bathrooms let you dial down the brightness at night. Plug rarely used appliances and home office equipment into power strips so that you can cut all power consumption until you need them. A computer left on overnight draws an equal amount of electricity as a 13-watt compact fluorescent light bulb left on for 10 days.

2. Be a Cold Water Washer

Nearly 90 percent of the power needed to run a washer comes from generating hot water. Tests performed by Consumer Reports found that detergents are less effective at higher temperatures. Cold water is best for removing heavy stains, reducing wrinkles and preventing dark colors from fading.

You’ll also keep your clothes longer since hot water shrinks garments and sets stains. Kill germs by adding a bleach alternative to the wash cycle, especially if you want to bank extra bucks by drying clothes naturally.

3. Be a Bill Analyzer

Regularly check your utility bill statements for spikes in monthly, quarterly and annual usage, which can indicate that an energy-hog is living in your home. Daily comparisons pinpoint patterns that are ramping up charges.

For example, Greensboro’s electricity and natural gas companies charge lower rates during off-peak hours, which include evenings, weekends and holidays. The amount of power that you use also affects your final bill since utility companies charge a variable rate after reaching a certain threshold.

4. Be a Home Auditor

Inspect your home for drafts around doorways, windows, baseboards, lights, fireplaces and outlets. Sealing these leaks with proper insulation, weather stripping, and caulking can cut bills by 20 percent. When the temperatures rise or dip in Greensboro, dirty air conditioning or furnace filters should be cleaned monthly to keep air flowing smoothly and systems running optimally.

A professional home audit identifies loss locations and ways to improve efficiency. A home energy monitor also tracks power consumption and analyzes usage for peaks and leaks, helping you to identify places that are generating more power than necessary.

5. Be a Smart Shopper

Efficient products carrying the Energy Star label include everything from windows, televisions, and computers to dishwashers, refrigerators, and water heaters. A modern HVAC system with a high SEER rating and professional installation keeps an extra $200 in your bank each year.

Reduce consumption by another third by replacing all incandescent and fluorescent light bulbs with energy-efficient halogen incandescents, CFLs, and LEDs. When shopping, look for lumens instead of watts. A 60-watt bulb is equal to 800 lumens, and a 75-watt bulb is the same as 1100 lumens.

6. Be a Schedule Setter

Using the adjustable settings on your programmable thermostat to match your sleeping habits and work routines can save households an average of $180 each year. Energy.gov recommends 68 degrees as an optimal temperature when you are at home and awake.

When you are sleeping or away from home for at least four hours, drop the temperature by 10 degrees. You can store multiple daily settings, which should start about 15 minutes before you actually go to bed or leave.

Regular maintenance checks every six months also keep your HVAC system running smoothly by cleaning out debris, preventing developing problems and fixing small leaks. A clean unit is better able to maintain indoor temperatures, particularly in extreme weather. Contact Air Treatment Inc. at (336) 790-3206 to learn how our customer-oriented residential maintenance plans can generate savings on your home heating and cooling costs.

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