For anyone who thinks contributing to a cleaner environment means inconvenience and sacrifice, there’s good news: Doing a few simple things in your own home can help reduce pollution and waste. Making these changes can help you save money, too, according to two new publications from the Federal Trade Commission, developed in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Energy.
The EnergyGuide labels for use on major home appliances and home heating and cooling equipment can make energy savers out of all consumers because they simplify energy use comparisons among various models, says Jodie Bernstein, Director of the FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection. “When consumers shop for appliances, they should look for models with the features they want, then use the EnergyGuide labels to compare how much energy each one uses,” Bernstein says. “The less energy an appliance uses, the more money consumers can save on utility bills -- month after month, year after year -- and the more they can contribute to a cleaner environment.”
More than half of monthly utility bills goes toward heating and cooling your home, running major appliances, and heating your water. Routine maintenance and minor changes in how you use your appliances can reduce utility bills and contribute to a cleaner environment.
Here’s how you can use energy more efficiently and cut costs:
- Keep air vents, baseboard heaters and radiators unrestricted by furniture, carpet or curtains. It makes the air flow more easily. If baseboard heaters have movable vents, keep them open during the winter and closed during the summer.
- Schedule annual tune-ups for your heat pump, furnace or boiler. Maintenance checks can help keep this equipment running smoothly and efficiently.
- Shade room air conditioners from the sun to reduce their workload and clean or change the filters on a regular basis. Lower the temperature setting when you go out.
- If possible, locate your refrigerator away from heat sources like the stove, dishwasher and heat vents. Vacuum the coils every three months; dirt buildup makes the machine work harder to keep the contents cool. Check the door gaskets for air leaks. If ice buildup in the freezer is more than 1/4 inch thick, defrost.
- Preheat the oven only when the recipe specifically calls for it and turn off the oven shortly before the recipe suggests. The heat in the oven can finish the job.
- Cook in pots that fit the size of your stove top burners to cut energy waste. Using lids on your pans means you can lower the temperatures and reduce the energy used.
- Scrape but don’t pre-rinse your dishes by hand if you have a dishwasher that automatically pre-rinses or has a rinse/hold cycle. Save time and water.
- Match the water level and temperature settings on your clothes washer to the size of the load. Follow manufacturers’ directions for other energy saving hints.
- Remember to clean clothes dryer filters after each use.
- Lower the temperature setting on your water heater. Many thermostats are preset at the factory at 140 degrees. Lowering it to 120 degrees will save you 15 percent of your water heating energy.
Free copies of the new brochures, EnergyGuide to Home Heating and Cooling and EnergyGuide to Major Home Appliances, are available from the FTC’s Public Reference Branch, Room 130, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 202-326-2222; TTY for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest news as it is announced, call the FTC NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710. FTC news releases and other materials also are available on the Internet at the FTC’s World Wide Web site at: http://www.ftc.gov