Here are some energy-saving tips:
• If you have a water heater built before 2004, wrap it in an insulating jacket (Thermwell, $20 to $30 at www.amazon.com) and save about $30 annually on your water-heating bill.
• Set your water heater at 120 degrees Fahrenheit. (But before going too low, make sure your dishwasher has a booster heater, which gets the temperature back to 140 degrees, necessary for proper cleaning.)
• Have your furnace tuned every two years and you'll save about 1,250 pounds of carbon dioxide and 10 percent on your heating bills.
• For every degree you lower your home's temperature during the heating season, subtract 5 percent from your bill, according to the Alliance to Save Energy (www.ase.org).
• Use cold water to wash your clothes and save 50 percent of the energy you would otherwise use for hot water. Set your dryer on the moisture sensor, not the timer, and cut energy use by 15 percent.
• Install light dimmers, which cut electricity use by the same percentage that they lower the light.
• Put weatherstrip around the frames of your front and back doors and save about $30 per year in energy costs.
• Wrap precut pipe insulation around exposed hot-water pipes, including pipes traveling through crawl spaces.
The following tips will help consumers save water:
• Turn the water off while you brush your teeth. Running the water for two minutes sends 2 gallons of water down the drain.
• The permanent-press setting on your washing machine uses 5 gallons more per load than the regular setting. Reserve it for clothes that need line-drying.
• Switch from a bath, which requires 30 to 70 gallons, to a shower, which uses 25 gallons in 10 minutes under a 2.5-gpm showerhead. Then shower shorter.
• A leaky faucet wastes as much as 2,700 gallons in a year. So fix it already.
• Run the dishwasher and the clothes washer with full loads.
• Adjust your lawn mower to the 3-inch setting. Shaggy grass holds moisture longer, requiring less watering.
• Put a drop of food coloring in the toilet tank. If the color shows up in the bowl, your tank is leaking and you're wasting up to 200 gallons of water a day.
• Water your outdoor plants in the early morning, before the sun can burn off moisture.
• Before starting your sprinkler, step on the grass. If the blades spring back, hold off on watering for a day or two. The average lawn needs only one hour of watering a week.• Take your car out for a shampoo and rinse. Commercial car washes save up to 100 gallons of water per wash over the do-it-yourself kind, and they often reuse the rinse water, according to The Green Book.
Jane Bennett Clark is an associate editor at Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine. Send your questions and comments to [email protected]