Energy Efficiency & Conservation
  • 1. Light Right

    CFL

    The average household spends nearly $200 on lighting every year, with much of the cost owing to the few lights that are on the most. So switching those frequently used bulbs to Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs (CFLs) or light-emitting diodes (LEDs) is the place to start.

    Find the 10 lights you use most, and the lights you use at least one hour per day, and make the change.

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  • 2. Warm Water Well

    Water heating costs the average Virginia household around $250 per year. That water heater tank hidden in your closet or down in your basement is working non-stop to keep the water warm and to heat up the cold water that refills it after each use. You don't need to switch to cold showers to save money -- you can reduce your costs greatly by taking a handful of simple steps.

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  • 3. Program Your Comfort

    Heating and cooling costs the average Virginia household about $900 per year --the largest single component of your utility bill. Instead of leaving your heat or air conditioning on full blast when you're not home, install a programmable thermostat for your system. 

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  • 4. Add a Blanket

    Upgrading your attic insulation can dramatically reduce your heating and air conditioning costs, improve the value of your home, and add to your day-to-day comfort. While this project may cost you $200 or more, once it's in place it will allow you to save money on your energy bills for the life of your home.

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  • 5. Put a Hat on It

    In most homes, the attic door or hatch, is a framed plywood square in the ceiling of a hallway or bedroom, with no insulation above it. Without insulation, it is like having an open door to the outside or an open fireplace flue.

    The good news is, it's easy to fix this problem: simply apply a piece of insulated foam board to the back of the door or hatch and add weatherstripping to the frame.

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  • 6. Defeat Drafts

    The outer walls, ceiling, windows, doors and floor make up the "thermal envelope" of your house. Any gaps or holes in this envelope allow the conditioned or heated air inside your house to escape. When you add up all the small gaps, holes, cracks, and leaks, it's often the equivalent of leaving a couple of windows wide open-- all the time.

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  • 7. Go with the (Air) Flow

    Periodically replacing your air filter will significantly improve your heating and cooling system's performance. When the filter is dirty, the fan uses more energy to force the air through. When the filter gets too clogged, the whole system can shut down --triggering the need for professional services that could cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

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  • 9. Dial It Back a Notch

    Your appliances are wonderful modern conveniences -- but they cost the average Virginia household over $200 per year to operate. You can save 10% or more on these costs through two easy steps, without any appreciable effect on your day-to-day lifestyle or comfort.

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  • 10. Kill the "Phantoms"

    Electronics and miscellaneous appliances are the second largest category of home electricity usage -- nearly $300 for the average household. Some experts estimate that up to 75% of these costs are for "phantom power" -- situations where these devices are using electricity even when you think they are "off." Often (but not always) that little green light that is still glowing is a tip-off.

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Use Power Strips to Your Advantage

Electronics and miscellaneous appliances are the second largest category of home electricity usage -- nearly $300 for the average household. Some experts estimate that up to 75% of these costs are for "phantom power" -- situations where these devices are using electricity even when you think they are "off." Often (but not always) that little green light that is still glowing is a tip-off. 


It's easy and inexpensive to significantly reduce these phantom costs: plug your electronics into power strips and use the on-off switch on the power strip to fully turn off the juice when you are not using the electronic device or appliance. Even better, by selecting power strips that are also "surge protectors" you'll help prevent your valuable electronic devices from getting fried in electrical storms or power spikes.


Video: Find Out More About Phantom Energy Costs


Measure Your Phantom Electricity Usage

Use a meter called "Kill-a-Watt" or "Watt's Up" to tell you how much electricity your appliances and electronics are using, even when turned off. Energy auditors use them as part of energy efficiency reviews for homeowners, and the results can be shocking. The top culprits for phantom electricity usage are: televisions, VCRs, cell phone chargers, computer monitors, printers, and video game consoles.


Video: See a Kill-a-Watt in Use

Fast-forward to minute 6:15 of this video to see a Kill-a-Watt in action.