Around the House
Turn Off the Lights
Lighting accounts for approximately 12 percent of a household's annual electric bill. By turning off lights when not needed, you can reduce your energy consumption and help keep the air clean. Switch off just one lightbulb that would otherwise burn eight hours a day, and save almost $20 per year. To save electricity, also try timers and photocells that turn lights off when not in use, and dimmers to lower light levels. Annual Savings: $20
Use Energy-Saving Light Bulbs
The new energy-saving lightbulbs—halogen incandescents, compact fluorescents (CFLs), and light-emitting diodes (LEDs)—use 25 to 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs. Replacing your five most frequently used lights with ENERGY STAR bulbs or fixtures could save you $75 each year. Also, an ENERGY STAR CFL bulb will typically last up to 10 times longer and an ENERGY STAR qualified LED bulb will last as much as 25 times longer than an incandescent bulb with the same light output. The energy cost to operate a traditional incandescent bulb for a year is $4.80. By comparison, it costs about $1.00 to operate an ENERGY STAR LED bulb, about $3.50 for a halogen incandescent bulb, and about $1.20 for an ENERGY STAR CFL bulb. Annual Savings: $75
Adjust Your Thermostat
Cut your cooling and heating costs by using a programmable thermostat, or simply adjust your thermostat during overnight hours or when no one is home. Try setting the thermostat at 78 degrees or warmer in the summer and at 68 degrees or cooler in the winter to reduce energy consumption. When used properly, a programmable thermostat with four temperature settings can save the average household up to $180 per year in energy costs. If all Texas households reduced their energy consumption by using a programmable thermostat, Texans could collectively save over $1.6 billion annually while keeping the air clean. Annual Savings: $180
Make Your Cooling and Heating System an ENERGY STAR
In Texas, cooling and heating accounts for as much as 40 percent of annual home energy expenses. By using a properly sized ENERGY STAR cooling and heating system, you can save up to 20 percent on energy costs and help keep the air clean. We could reduce energy consumption statewide by over 41.9 billion kilowatt hours if all Texas households replaced their heating and cooling systems with ENERGY STAR HVAC systems. Annual Savings: $360
Use Ceiling Fans
Ceiling fans allow you to raise the thermostat setting about four degrees without discomfort. A ceiling fan cools people, not the room, so be sure to turn it off when you leave the room. In the winter, reverse your fan to force warm air near the ceiling down into the room; the blades should be set on a low speed and spin in a clockwise direction.
Weatherize Your House
Sealing air leaks around your home and adding insulation can help you maintain a comfortable indoor temperature and save up to 10 percent on your annual energy bills. Simple fixes include installing weather stripping on doors and caulking around windows, while bigger jobs might include sealing leaks and adding insulation in your attic. Use this Do-It-Yourself Guide to Sealing and Insulating to make home improvements, reduce your energy bill, and help keep the air clean. Annual Savings: $180
Reduce Standby Power
Did you know that when your TV, computer, and other appliances are plugged in, they are quietly draining electricity all day, every day, even when they are turned off? This phenomenon is known as standby power—the electric power consumed by products when they are switched off or in a standby mode. It accounts for 5 to 10 percent of residential energy use, costing the average Texas household up to $180 per year. Unplugging or turning electronics off at a power strip allows you to eliminate the energy used for standby power. When you replace electronics, look for the ENERGY STAR products that have lower standby power. Annual Savings: $90 to $180
Each Texan generates about 6.5 pounds of garbage every day. By recycling paper, metal, plastic, and other materials, you can reduce waste, help conserve energy, and preserve our state’s natural resources. In 2014, Americans generated about 258 million tons of trash and recycled and composted almost 89 million tons of this material, a recycling rate of 34.6 percent. Recycling and composting that much municipal solid waste saved the energy equivalent of removing 38 million cars from the road for one year.
Recycle Electronics and Batteries
Used electronics account for 1.3 percent of the municipal solid waste stream, and is steadily increasing. The average household has approximately 28 electronic devices. You can help by purchasing refurbished electronics, or reusing or donating used electronics, as well as recycling them. Most rechargeable batteries can be recharged up to 1,000 times, but when they no longer hold a charge—recycle them. If every Texas household recycled five rechargeable batteries a year, we could keep over 46 million batteries out of landfills. Visit Call2Recycle.org to find a battery drop-off site near you.
Buy Recycled-Content Products
Buy products, such as office supplies for home and work, made from or packaged in recycled materials. Items made from recycled content are manufactured with fewer virgin materials. You can usually spot products made from recycled paper, plastic, and other materials by reading the labels. One ton of paper manufactured from recycled paper saves up to 17 trees and uses 50 percent less water.
Cut Back on Your Amount of Mail
Consumers and businesses receive more than 80 billion pieces of junk mail each year; most of this ends up as solid waste. If you decide that you don't want to receive pre-screened offers of credit and insurance, you have two choices: you can opt out of receiving them for five years or opt out of receiving them permanently. The Direct Marketing Association's Mail Preference Service also lets you opt out of receiving unsolicited commercial mail from many national companies for five years. Important: Both secured sites are recommended by the Federal Trade Commission and will ask for personal information.