Electricity powers most of the tools we use every day, such as computers, cell phones, televisions, hair dryers, refrigerators and cooking appliances. Electrical energy also provides heat and air conditioning to keep homes at a comfortable temperature. However, consuming energy uses fossil fuels --- nonrenewable resources --- and generates carbon dioxide and pollution, which damage the environment. Simple strategies can help you reduce your energy consumption and limit your environmental impact.
Shut off and unplug electronic devices, such as cell phone chargers, computers, televisions, video and DVD players and gaming consoles, when you are not using them. Plugged in, these devices use stand-by power, which can amount to 5 to 10 percent of your home's energy consumption. (See References 1)
Turn off your dishwasher's drying cycle and allow your dishes to air dry. Skipping the drying cycle can reduce electricity use by up to 20 percent. To maximize efficiency, make sure that your dishwasher is full before running it. (See References 2)
Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs, which provide the same amount of light while using less energy. You can save about $50 per year in energy costs by replacing 15 incandescent bulbs with CFL bulbs. (See References 1)
Replace or clean the air filter in your furnace once a month, or as recommended by your furnace manufacturer. Maintaining a clean air filter in your furnace can reduce the energy consumption required to heat your home by 5 percent. (See References 2)
Turn down the thermostat on your water heater to 120 degrees F instead of 140 degrees. Reducing the operating temperature of your water heater by even 10 degrees can reduce your home's carbon dioxide emissions by 600 pounds a year if you have an electric heater, and 440 pounds if you have a gas heater. (See References 2)