The following no-cost or low-cost and seasonal energy saving resources are a great checklist to ensure you're using energy efficiently. You can also download a short list of good habits to help you save.
Computers should be shut down when not used for 2 hours or longer. At other times, use the “sleep” or “energy saver” mode. This will turn off the monitor, but your computer won't have to be restarted.
A surge power strip makes it easy to turn off everything at once; your computer, monitor and peripherals, such as modems, draw power even if the computer is not using them. Screen savers don't save energy and can prevent your computer from going into “energy saver” mode if activated.
When purchasing a new computer look for ENERGY STAR-qualified computers, which use 70% less electricity than computers without power management features.
A large number of electrical products such as DVD players, TVs and phone chargers, can't be switched off completely without unplugging them or turning off a power strip. Even some gas appliances have electronic transformers, microchips, digital clocks, LEDs and soft-touch buttons that use electricity. This so-called "phantom power" costs you money with little to no benefit. Phantom power consumes 5 percent of all residential energy use in the United States.
When old refrigerators are retired to the garage or basement for extra cold storage, it can cost $100 or more per year in energy use. Old refrigerators are less energy efficient than new ones — some of them using nearly twice as much energy. Additionally, refrigerators aren't designed to operate in unconditioned spaces. The heat of summer and cold of winter can result in even more energy waste and leave your appliance unable to maintain proper food storage temperatures.
Leaving an incandescent light on actually uses more energy than turning it off and on as needed. However, If you are using a compact fluorescent light bulb, it should be left on if it will be needed within about 5 minutes. Turning CFLs on and off frequently can shorten the life of the bulb.
Setting your thermostat 7 to 10ºF cooler before you go to bed and warming the house in the morning uses less energy and saves your money.
It takes the same amount of time for the temperature to reach 70 degrees whether the thermostat is set at 70 degrees or at 90 degrees. Setting the thermostat setting way up or way down only increases the likelihood of wasting energy and increasing costs.
CFL technology has improved, eliminating the flickering and humming and reducing the slow start-up you may have noticed with fluorescents in the past. For best performance, be sure to seek out high-quality ENERGY STAR CFL bulbs from a reputable manufacturer.
You can turn the thermostat on your air conditioner up a few degrees and help people feel cooler by moving the air in the room with fans. But fans cool people, not rooms, so remember to turn them off when the room is unoccupied to save energy.