You may know to turn the lights off when not in use, but with these tricks, you can save even more.

By Adam Bluestein, Ingela Ratledge, and Melanie Wagner
Updated January 15, 2009
Credit: Quentin Vioux

Save a Little

  • Use your curtains. During cold months, leave them open during the day to allow sunlight in; in the summer, keep curtains shut in rooms where the sunlight hits.
  • Install motion detectors on lights in kids’ rooms. The lights will never be left on by accident.

Save a Little More

  • Insulate your hot-water heater. If it’s more than seven years old, wrap it in a precut jacket or blanket (available at hardware stores).
  • Use a programmable thermostat. Set it to raise or lower the temperature setting automatically when you’re not home. Monthly
  • Use electronics wisely. Unplug them when not in use; they draw power even if they’re off. And use a laptop on a hard, flat surface, rather than a soft, cushy one, such as a bed or a carpet. The latter can block airflow and lead to overheating.
  • Clean your electric heating system or air conditioner’s filter and fan. It’s best to do this once a month, but even once a year will make a difference.
  • Launder everything in cold. Ninety percent of the energy used by a top-loading washing machine is for heating water.

Save a Lot

  • Use a low-flow showerhead. A low-flow head uses less than 2 1/2 gallons a minute, compared with a whopping seven gallons for old models, which means less water to heat.
  • Enroll in a “cycling” program. Your utility company will use a radio signal to shut off your heating system or air-conditioning periodically during peak-usage times on weekdays―say, for 15 minutes over a three-hour period.