Conserving energy can be simple and even free! Small adjustments make a big difference. We've expanded and updated our original Smart Watts savings tips. Try these new routines today:
Manage your power. This means being aware of what is on and when. Use the technology embedded in many appliances and computers to assist you, such as built in timers and sleep modes.
Unplug. Taking the cord out of the wall, or using a surge protector's off switch, provide simple ways of stopping the power from flowing. Unplugging prevents "vampire power" from sucking electricity when your gadgets are not in use. It's also important not to over-charge rechargeable batteries. This wastes energy and shortens their useful life. So, unplug!
Turn things off. Lights, ceiling fans, televisions, music players... when you leave a room, turn them off. The collective savings from turning many things off day after day can be huge.
Run full loads. Whether it's the dishwasher or the clothes washer, running full loads cuts down the overall number of times the machine is used.
Go up a degree for air, down a few degrees for water, and just right for the fridge and freezer. Turn up the thermostat. Just one degree will not make much of a difference in your comfort, but can make a big difference in how much energy your building uses. We recommend 78 degrees when you are home, and 82 degrees when you are away. Use a programmable thermostat when possible, or keep yours on "auto" mode. For your water heater, set the temperature at 120 degrees Fahrenheit. This keep your family safe, and does not overwork your heating unit. Adjust temperatures to recommend settings for fridge (38-42 degrees) and freezer (0-10 degrees). If you are not comfortable with these settings, before changing them, check that your building and system components are properly weatherized and insulated.
Rely on ratings. When you purchase, look for the Energy Star or Green-e or other green rating labels to be sure that your new appliance, machine or gadget is as efficient as it can be, and to be sure that the products you purchase were manufactured in an environmentally conscious way.
Keep things in tip-top shape. Routine maintenance is essential: of everything from your HVAC system, to your refrigerator, to your swimming pool, and even your computer. If it has a plug or a rechargeable battery it can benefit from routine checks and cleaning. Follow all manufacturer's recommendations, including changing filters, cleaning vents, dusting coils, clearing clogs, replacing parts that wear out, and so on. This will keep things running at maximum efficiency and will usually extend their useful life.
Right-size. This mean choosing the appropriate tool or appliance for the job. So use the toaster oven instead of the wall oven for smaller servings. Use a hand-held sweeper instead of the larger vacuum for small clean-ups. Use a desk lamp or personal book light instead of all the overhead lights. Wherever you can, see if you can downsize your draw on power without downsizing your comfort or convenience.
Save the Energy You Don't Use. This means changing your buying behavior to consider the energy consumption that went into the products you use. When you purchase objects made with post-consumer recycled content, you are investing in things that will account for less energy consumption overall. When you reduce, reuse and recycle, you all contribute to an overall reduction in energy consumption. The same goes for where you buy. Buying something made closer to home usually saves energy too.
Let nature do the work for you. So maybe you cannot invest in your own solar or wind power just yet, but letting sunlight and wind help you is possible. Open your curtain and let natural lighting in, hang towels on a line to dry, let your hair dry naturally most of the way, and just use the dryer for finishing touches. Let cold, prepared foods warm up to room temperature before using a microwave or oven to reheat them. These are examples of how you can avoid using electricity or gas until you really need them.
Free Home Energy Survey
There are many online tools for evaluating your energy consumption. See our Energy Conservation Resources for access to our favorites. In Florida, if you are an FPL customer, you are also eligible for a free on-site home energy survey.
Your First Retrofit
We know that updating and upgrading appliances of any size can be expensive. Most of us will have to wait until things wear out before replacing them. If we can recommend just one change in your home or office, it would be to switch to LED lighting. While LED lightbulbs are more expensive, their price is coming down and they are truly worth the investment. LEDs consume up to 75 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs and are non-toxic. They last for years and years-- even a decade or more. Whether you replace your lightbulbs one at a time when they burn out, or all at once, you will see a difference.
More and more and more information...
There is so much good energy conservation advice out there. We can't possibly cover all the potential for savings one page. Access our Green Building Tips and Checklists for ideas in every room, and click through our Energy Conservation Resources to access detailed advice, energy audit tools, energy consumption calculators, tax rebate information, do-it-yourself instructions and more.