Allyson Schmutter, spokesperson for the national nonprofit Alliance to Save Energy, offers these five tips for saving energy and money:
1. Unplug All Those Devices: Believe it or not, many devices still consume energy even when turned off. The typical culprits are televisions and cable boxes, or anything that stays lit with an LED or standby light even when turned off. Schmutter says those devices can suck a month’s worth of electricity from your home each year.
2. Change Your Bulbs: If you haven't already switched your incandescent bulbs out for more energy-efficient options, now's the time to do it. You'll save 75 percent by switching to CFL bulbs. Not sold on CFLs? Take a look at this light bulb checklist for more ideas.
PG&E offers various incentives for cutting your energy use and information about various efficient lighting options. You can visit the utility's Home Money Saver site here.
Here are just a few retailers that sell a large variety of lightbulbs.
Ace Hardware - It is located at 2145 University Avenue.
Home Depot- This home and garden center's East Bay stores are located in Oakland, Emeryville, San Leandro, Hayward, El Cerrito, San Ramon Union City, Pleasanton, Concord, Martinez, Livermore, Fremont and Newark, You can click here to see the energy efficient lightbulbs they sell.
Lowe's - It has East Bay locations in Union City, Concord Dublin, Fremont and Livermore.
Orchard Supply Hardware- You can go here to find Orchard Supply's East Bay location closest to you. There is an Orchard Supply Hardware store at 1024 Ashby Avenue.
Home Depot wil accept used compact fluorescent lightbulbs and dispose of them properly to keep them out of the landfill. (Ask at the customer service desk where the lightbulb recycling container is located in your particular store.) You can read about the chain's Eco Options program here.
3. Cook Up Some Energy Savings: Did you know matching your pan to the burner can actually save energy? For example, experts estimate that 40 percent of energy is lost when you use a 6-inch pan on an 8-inch burner.
Another way to save energy in the kitchen is to keep your refrigerator between 37 degrees to 40 degrees F and your freezer at 5 degrees F, and allow hot food to cool before putting it in the refrigerator. The folks at Edison Electric Institute have a thorough list of suggestions for optimizing your fridge's efficiency, including locating it away from direct sunlight when possible. Every little bit helps!
4. Wash Your Clothes in Cold Water: Washing clothes in cold water is a great electricity saver, Schmutter says. “When you’re thinking about savings, you spend the most money washing clothes in hot water because 90 percent of that energy goes to heating the water.”
Detergents and washing machines are now more efficient than ever, so hot water really isn’t all that necessary anymore. Look for detergents made specifically for washing in cold water, Schmutter suggests.
5. Research Your Appliances: Home energy management systems now come with appliances like dishwashers, washing machines and dryers, Schmutter says. When you’re in the market for something new, be sure it’s energy-efficient.
Numerous rebates are available through the State of California and PG&E to encourage the public to purchase energy efficient appliances. A list of current rebates and general information about new products can be found here.
Before you go shopping for your energy efficient appliances, you might want to visit Consumer Reports' website which details which appliances qualify for an Energy Star rating and offers reviews of many brands.
In the East Bay Airport Appliance, (with locations in Hayward and Berkeley), has a large array of energy efficient appliances, as do stores such as Friedman's in Pleasant Hill, Sears, Costco, Galvin Appliance in Albany and Home Depot with locations throughout the Bay Area. Home Depot also offers an on-line energy audit to find out how much money you can save by switching to more eco-friendly appliances.
TELL US: How do you save energy at home? Share your ideas in the comments section below.