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Here's the great thing about cutting your home's power use: You don't have to do much of anything. Sure, you should remember to turn off lights and keep the fridge door closed. But you can make a huge impact simply by using the energy-efficient products companies are scrambling to make. Incandescent bulbs will be hard to find in a few years, and non-Energy-Star-rated appliances are an even rarer breed. The key is knowing what to replace and when.
$1,900 -Average Home's Annual Energy Cost
16,290 Pounds -Average Annual Carbon Output for the Power used in a Two-Person Home
Where's The Waste? 5 Biggest Users
- The Department of Energy estimates that 75 percent of the power used by electronics and appliances is drawn while they're off. Turn off the power strip when you're done for the day.
The Living Room
- Even LCD and plasma flat-screens draw between 35 and 300 watts and account for 4 percent of the country's household energy use. Power them down when you're not actually watching.
- Electric ovens use about 440 watts; electric ranges, 536 watts. Avoid opening the door, which can drop the temperature by 25 degrees. Also, skip preheating unless the recipe specifically calls for it.
- A standalone freezer in a warm garage has to work extra-hard to stay cool. Move it to the basement. If you're buying new, opt for a chest model, which is 10 to 25 percent more efficient than an upright.
- Swimming-pool pumps are one of the biggest energy users in the home, costing as much as $240 a year to operate. Cut the filtration time to six hours or less a day.
Six Technical Terms Explained
- Kilowatt-hour: The basic unit for measuring your power usage. For example, a 100-watt light bulb left on for one hour would draw 0.1 kilowatt-hour.
- Energy Star: A government agency that certifies everything from lab-tested appliances to homes as being more energy-efficient than average.
- Energyguide Label: The FTC requires home appliances to sport one of these, listing estimates of the product's energy efficiency and that of similar models.
- Tiered Rates: A utility may charge one rate up to a fixed kilowatt-hour and a different rate for additional usage to discourage consumption.
- Phantom Load: The energy that many appliances and gadgets continue to draw when they're off. It's only a few watts per device, but it adds up.
- Lumen: A measure of brightness. A 100-watt incandescent puts out 1,500 to 1,700 lumens--The same as a 23-watt CFL.