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Consumer Reports features 25 ways to save energy and money

Posted Wednesday, November 12, 2008

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Simple strategies that can help consumers lower the cost of their energy bills

Yonkers, NY — Consumers are far from powerless when it comes to saving money on energy. Smart choices can help save roughly $2,000 a year. A recent Consumer Reports’ poll revealed that 61 percent of homeowners hold themselves accountable for reducing their home energy consumption and so the October issue of Consumer Reports features 25 tips to help consumers start saving now:

  1. Clean the coils behind or underneath the refrigerator to keep it running efficiently.
  2. Skip prerinsing dishes. Consumer Reports’ tests have found that it’s unnecessary and consumers can save up to 6,500 gallons of water per year.
  3. Opt for the cold-water wash cycle and save about $60 a year.
  4. Put the PC to sleep. Using the system standby or hibernating feature can save $75 or more.
  5. Plug electronics into a power strip so they can all be turned off at once.
  6. Don’t overload the dryer. Clothes will take longer to dry and they’ll come out wrinkled. Line dry when the weather is warm.
  7. Open blinds and shades on cold days. Solar heat gain can raise interior temperature significantly. Close them at night to minimize heat loss.
  8. Dust off the slow cooker. Consumers can use a lot less energy than cooking a meal across several burners and in the oven.
  9. Keep car tires properly inflated. In Consumer Reports’ test of a Toyota Camry, fuel efficiency dropped 1.3 mpg when the tires were deflated by 10 psi.
  10. Check with the local utility company to see if they offer rebates to customers who replace old appliances with energy-efficient models. Some states hold periodic “tax holidays” for purchases of energy-efficient appliances.
  11. Lower the temperature a degree or two before guests arrive. A house full of guests generates a lot of body heat.
  12. Clean or replace furnace filters monthly during the heating season. Clogged filters force the blower to work longer, raising electric bills.
  13. String LED lights this holiday season. They last longer and Consumer Reports’ tests have shown that they can save up to $11 per season.
  14. Insulate and seal cracks and gaps in ducts. It can help reduce energy costs by 30 percent.
  15. Lower water-heater temperature to 120 degrees from 130 and insulate hot-water pipes to knock up to 5 percent off energy bills.
  16. Weather-strip old windows and doors. It’s the surest way to close the gaps around openings, reducing heating and cooling costs by 15 to 30 percent.
  17. Control outdoor lights with sensors or timers so that fixtures stay off during the day.
  18. Install a high-efficiency showerhead. It will reduce hot water use by up to 50 percent.
  19. Upgrade to a low-flow toilet and save 4,000 gallons per year.
  20. Drain a bucket’s worth of water from the water heater a few times a year to remove sediment, which can decrease efficiency.
  21. Move the thermostat to an inside wall away from windows and doors so that the drafts don’t cause the heating system to cycle on unnecessarily.
  22. Add insulation. An estimated 10 percent of older homes are underinsulated. Properly insulating and sealing the home can cut heating and cooling bills by 10 percent.
  23. Plant a deciduous shade tree on the west and southwest sides of a house to save energy.
  24. Zone heat smartly. Using a portable heater in a room can save consumers only if they are willing to keep the rest of the house chilly. Wood-burning fireplaces can suck more heat from the home than they put back in.
  25. Call a professional energy auditor. They use a blower door or infrared photography to pinpoint where the home is leaking energy. Some utilities provide free audits. Consumers can find certified professionals in their area through
The October issue of the magazine also includes an investigative report on the Energy Star program, nine myths about compact fluorescent light bulbs and Consumer Reports’ first ever ratings of tankless water heaters. For more information on the how to save energy and money, check out the October 2008 issue of Consumer Reports or visit

Consumer Reports’ Poll Methodology The Consumer Reports National Research Center conducted a telephone survey of a nationally representative probability sample of telephone households. 1,005 interviews were completed among adults aged 18+. Interviewing took place over June 12 – June 15, 2008. The margin of error is +/- 3.2% points at a 95% confidence level.

Consumer Reports has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor appearing on this newspaper's web site.

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Consumer Reports features 25 ways to save energy and money
Opt for the cold-water wash cycle and save about $60 a year.

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