Con Edison offers tips to help you go green and save some green by implementing energy-saving measures in your home.
Weatherization: Reduce your energy use by first tightening up your home. You can cut your heating and cooling costs by 15 to 30 percent and increase your comfort at the same time. Conduct a do-it-yourself energy audit. With a simple walk-through, you can spot many problems on your own. Learn how at www.eere.energy.gov.
Use caulk or weather stripping to seal up any air leaks from window frames, baseboards, electrical outlets and switch plates, wall- or window-mounted air conditioners, and other openings, such as pipes and wiring coming through ceilings, floors and walls. Make sure your ceilings and walls are properly insulated. Learn more about insulating your home at www.ornl.gov.
Heating is the largest energy user for homes in the area. Increasing the efficiency of your heating system is the most effective way to save money and reduce your home’s contribution to climate change. Every fall, have your heating system cleaned and inspected by a qualified contractor.
Install a programmable thermostat and set it to turn down the heat at night and when no one is home. Lowering the thermostat 10 to 15 degrees for eight hours a day can save you about 10 percent a year on heating costs. Keep drapes or furniture away from radiators and baseboard heaters so heat can flow freely.
Use an efficient humidifier to maintain comfortable humidity levels and help you conserve heat. Proper humidity helps you feel comfortable without turning up the heat.
Switching to high-efficiency air conditioners and reducing your air-conditioning use can cut your cooling costs by 20 to 50 percent.Every year, inspect and clean your air conditioner or cooling system. A well-maintained unit uses less electricity.
Set your air conditioner to no cooler than 78 degrees. Setting it lower can increase your costs by up to 40 percent. Install a programmable thermostat or use a timer to turn on your air conditioner a half hour before you return home rather than having it run all day.
Use fans whenever possible instead of air-conditioning.They use far less energy and often can provide the same level of comfort.
Water Heating: Next to heating or cooling, water heating is typically the largest energy user in the home. To conserve energy, conserve hot water. Set your water heater no higher than 120 degrees or about midway between the low and medium settings. If appropriate, consider a demand water heater that has no storage tank. It can reduce your energy use by 10 to 15 percent.
Take showers rather than baths. Showers generally use half as much hot water as baths. Take shorter showers and install a low-flow showerhead.
Plan on buying an energy efficient water heater before your old one fails. If your gas water heater is more than 10 years old, it may be operating at less than 50 percent efficiency.
Lighting accounts for 5 to 10 percent of total energy use in the average home. Consider the advantages of energy-efficient alternatives.
Use ENERGY STAR-qualified compact fluorescent light bulbs. They use less than 25 percent of the electricity standard bulbs use and last 10 times longer. If every home in New York City replaced 75 percent of their regular light bulbs with CFLs, we would save enough energy to run all the subways and light all the train stations.
Use bright lights only where you read or work. Otherwise, use 25- or 40-watt bulbs.
Appliances: Consider energy efficiency when buying new appliances and electronics. While energy-efficient products may be more expensive to buy, over their life, they can save you about 30 percent on your energy bill. Choose ENERGY STAR-qualified appliances, which use 10 to 50 percent less electricity than standard models.
Use the energy-saving setting for all appliances, particularly your refrigerator, air conditioner, washing machine, dryer and dishwasher.
Unplug appliances and equipment when not in use, including TVs, cable boxes, computers and monitors. Turning computers on and off daily will not damage them.
Unplug cell phone, MP3 player, and PDA chargers when not in use. They use electricity, even when they are not charging.
Set your refrigerator to 40 degrees — but no higher — and freezer to 0 degrees.
Use a microwave rather than an electric or gas oven as much as possible. Microwaves use less than half the power of traditional ovens.
Run your dishwasher only when it is full. Scrape dishes before placing them in the dishwasher and use the soak or prewash dishwasher setting only for burned-on or dried-on food.
Use your clothes washer only when it is full and wash your clothes in cold water. Clean the lint filter in the clothes dryer before each load. Do not overdry your clothes, and use the moisture sensor if your machine has one. If not, consider replacing your old clothes dryer with a new energy efficient model with a moisture sensor. This feature can reduce your drying time by up to 15 percent and extend the life of your clothes.
Finally, switch to green power. Visit www.poweryourway.com to learn how. If 10 percent of households in New York State chose green power, it would reduce our annual carbon dioxide emissions by about 3 billion pounds. Carbon dioxide accounts for 80 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions.
For a complete list of energy-saving tips, go to www.coned.com/thepowerof green/100tips.asp.