10 ways to reduce your home’s power use

You can reduce your home's power use not only by making changes to things electrical, but also by modifying the heating system for your home.

Here's a mix of ideas to try out:

1. Make your refrigerator more efficient
Setting your refrigerator's temperature controls to as close to 37 degrees as possible can reduce the energy this power-hungry appliance consumes - use a thermometer if the controls don't indicate the temperature. It's also a good idea to check the gaskets on the fridge and freezer doors to ensure that they seal correctly to prevent cool air from escaping.

2. Install compact fluorescent light bulbs
Compact fluorescent bulbs produce as much light as conventional incandescent light bulbs, but only consume 1/5 the electricity to do so. They also last about six times longer than incandescent lights.

3. Install automatic light sensors or timed sensors on outdoor lighting
Outdoor lighting is a great way to improve the security and curb appeal of your home during twilight hours. But if you home's exterior lighting relies on manual switches, it's likely that you're leaving lights on during daylight hours.

Hiring a licensed New York City-area electrician to install light-sensing automatic or time-controlled switches can reduce unnecessary electrical use.

4. Install solar-powered landscape lighting
Shining a light on your landscape's walkways and features is a good way to highlight your great outdoors, but, just like other exterior lighting options, if your lights stay on during the day, they're wasting electricity. Take your landscape lighting completely off the grid with solar-powered lighting.

Switched off during the day, solar lighting soaks up the sun's energy via photovoltaic cells and automatically switch on when daylight goes dim. This is another project where hiring a licensed electrician can help.

5. Unplug electronic devices when not in use
Despite being turned off, most home appliances such as mobile phone chargers, televisions, home entertainment devices, printers, computer monitors and coffee machines still draw a small amount of power when not in use. Unplug these devices  or plug them into a power strip that can be turned off when not in use to reduce your home's power consumption.

6. Buy EnergyStar-rated appliances
EnergyStar standards set efficient power usage levels for appliances and offer consumers a metric that can be used when comparing power usage to make a purchasing decision. Although a highly efficient EnergyStar appliance may cost more upfront, its reduced power consumption can help defray the initial investment.

7. Insulate your home to prevent heat loss or intrusion
For homes with electric furnaces, mitigating energy loss by adding more insulation to the walls, attic or basement can reduce electricity consumption during colder winter months. The same goes for keeping cool air in and hot air out during the summer when electrically driven air-conditioning units cool a home.

Another way to mitigate losing heated or cooled air, and thereby the energy needed to produce it, is to ensure exterior doors have proper weatherstripping and windows are weathertight to prevent drafts.

8. Add insulation to hot water lines and the water heater
If your home features an electrically powered water heater, you can reduce its power consumption by wrapping the hot water supply lines in foam insulation sleeves, which can be found at most hardware stores. Insulating a water heater in an insulation jacket can reduce energy use, too.

9. Upgrade your windows to new energy-efficient models
Just as insulation can preserve energy produced to heat or cool a home, so can newer more energy efficient windows. Even when closed, older windows can let large amounts of heating or cooling escape from a home. Purchasing and installing new windows may also qualify for local or federal tax credits or rebates.

10. Turn off lights when not in use
It's probably the easiest thing you can do to reduce energy waste, but it's often the most overlooked action a homeowner can take. One high-tech way to simplify this easily forgotten task is to hire an electrician to install motion-sensing switches that automatically turn off lighting when a person's presence is not detected.

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Adding motion-sensors to outdoor lighting can help reduce your monthly electric bill. (Photo courtesy of Angie’s List member Jason B. of Simsbury, Conn.)
Adding motion-sensors to outdoor lighting can help reduce your monthly electric bill. (Photo courtesy of Angie’s List member Jason B. of Simsbury, Conn.)

Saving money on your electricity bill doesn't have to be difficult. You can reduce your energy use without taking drastic steps. Follow these simple tips to operate your household more efficiently and easily.

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