Seven ways to lower energy bills — for free

Photo of washing machine
Washing clothes in cold water can help save energy.

  1. Clean your clothes dryer’s lint trap every time you load the machine. A lint-free trap allows for better air circulation, which could mean your clothes will dry quicker.
  2. When it’s sunny outside, throw open the curtains, even in the winter. Let the sun help warm your room and add enough light that you won’t need lamps until sundown. On cloudy days, keep the windows covered, and more cold air will stay outside.
  3. Wash clothes in cold water; you’ll not only save energy, but you’ll save water, too. And turn off the “heated dry” function on your dishwasher. Let the dishes air-dry instead.
  4. If your refrigerator sits near a window or door, move it to another spot, if there’s room. When sunrays and heat from the outdoors touch the fridge, it has to work harder — and use more electricity — to keep your food cold.
  5. Unplug appliances — small ones like phone chargers and larger ones like computers and TVs — when you’re not using them. Electronic devices use a little bit of electricity as long as they are plugged in — even when they are turned off. If you can’t or don’t want to turn your appliances off, switch them to “sleep” mode so they will draw less energy while nobody’s using them.
  6. Remove window air conditioners once the weather cools off. They’re installed in open windows, after all, so they always invite drafts into the house. Store them away until summer.
  7. Get rid of the refrigerator in your garage. Chances are, it’s an old one that you moved there after you got an energy-efficient new model full of bells and whistles for your kitchen. That old energy hog would cost you plenty if it were in a room that you heat and cool. But in an uninsulated garage, it has to huff and puff to keep its contents cool when it’s hot outside — and it’s probably not even halfway full.