Here are a few specific ways you can drive down your home energy use, reducing both your monthly electricity bills and your environmental impact.
Unplug Cords: Unplug anything with a power "brick" (the box on the power cord) if you are not using it. This includes cords like cell phone chargers and laptop chargers. Bricks consume power even when your gizmo is not plugged into it. Televisions and similar devices also draw power when off, so unplug those if you do not use them often. Large televisions can consume as much electricity as a refrigerator.
Change Your Bulbs: Compact fluorescent light bulbs provide quick and easy savings. Over the past few years, the light quality has improved, but you may need to try a few brands before finding the one you like best.
Measure Your Use: Buy or borrow a watt meter. Using this inexpensive device, which can be purchased for as little as $20, is an easy way to figure out how much electricity your plug-in appliances are consuming. If you find that an appliance is hogging too much energy, it might be worthwhile to invest in a more energy-efficient model.
Look For The 'Energy Star' Logo: Shop for home appliances with the Energy Star logo, which means the product has met standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy. Appliances bearing this logo are more efficient than base models.
Consider Gas: Switching from an electric water heater to a gas water heater will conserve energy, generally leading to lower bills and less carbon dioxide in the environment.
Seal Your Ducts: Make sure your ducts are tightly sealed, since energy can be wasted out of cracks. Insulation on ductwork can also help.
Use Fans: Use ceiling fans instead of turning down the thermostat, and only turn the fans on when people are in the room.
Source: Jennifer Thorne Amann, co-author of "Consumer Guide to Home Energy Savings."