Become aware of your energy uses and get a watt meter to better understand it. Space heating and cooling accounts for the largest share of energy, followed closely by water heating, lighting, refrigeration, and electronics. If you want to reduce your energy bills, pay attention to what drives them up -- awareness is the first step.
Change out your light bulbs to LED bulbs. A $9.97 LED bulb from Home Depot can replace a regular incandescent 50-watt bulb; the energy savings alone pay for itself in less than one year; factoring in replacement costs makes it a financial deal almost too good to be true.
Get the Belkin timer and surge protector to reduce all the peripheral electronic draws. It's a very easy plug-in gadget that really can make a difference (they all add up), and it helps save the battery life of phones and laptops.
Add insulation where it is needed most: usually attics and around outlets. Insulation is almost always the biggest bang for the buck, and most homes need more. Getting a subsidized energy audit through your utility can help reduce the cost, and they usually come with recommendations for insulation contractors.
Replace old appliances. If your refrigerator is from the 1980s, it is an energy hog! Check www.dsire.org for state incentives and rebates for these types of things to help lower the upfront cost; but you won't be sorry: the energy savings will pay for the new appliance usually within one-three years.
My blog takes sustainable home living and breaks it down into four manageable chunks. For this first quarter, its focus is weekly tips on energy conservation. Visit www.green-intention.com for more information.
Melissa provides sustainability consulting services for businesses in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. Melissa is also the founder of Green Intention LLC, where she writes and blogs about her experience in getting her own home LEED Gold certified--and then trying to live more sustainably in the home. She chairs her congregation’s Task Force for Sustainability, has her MBA, Master's in Public Policy, and is a LEED AP for Homes.