By Paul Wesslund
If you want to celebrate Earth Day on April 22, start by making your home more energy efficient. Below are three efficiency tips from energy expert Brian Sloboda of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.
- Look around your home for no-cost ways to be efficient. Close the curtains in the summer and open them in the winter. Turn off your computers overnight. Also turn off video game consoles when they’re not being used. Better yet, keep them off and send the kids outside to play baseball.
- Look for small steps you can take and DIY. Caulk around drafty windows. Check the attic for the correct amount of insulation. Switch to LED light bulbs. Plant a deciduous tree on the sunny side of your house; in a few years the leaves will cool your home against the sun in summer, then fall off to warm it in the winter. Old cable TV boxes use a lot of energy. If yours is not ENERGY STAR-rated, call your cable provider and ask for a new one. If you have a major appliance – like a refrigerator, washing machine or dryer – that’s more than 10 years old, don’t repair it. The energy efficiency of a newer model will likely pay for itself with energy savings in a few years. Before buying any appliance, look for the ENERGY STAR label, and learn to read it and compare products.
- Call your electric co-op and ask about energy-saving programs. The energy experts there may be able to offer advice, appliance rebates or a home energy checkup. You might be surprised to find out what’s really driving up your energy costs.
PAUL WESSLUND writes on cooperative issues for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the Arlington, Va.-based service arm of the nation’s 900-plus consumer-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperatives.