Over the past few years, energy consciousness has been in the spotlight. Energy Star appliances have become popular as have low-energy light bulbs. However, the most important thing we can do to conserve energy in our own homes is to alter our behavior.

Lights Remembering to turn the lights off when you leave the room doesn't cost anything, and lowers the energy bill.  If you have rooms that don't see regular traffic but you notice the lights are often left on there, consider installing motion detector switches which will automatically turn lights on and off. Unoccupied Rooms If you have guest rooms, save energy by making sure they’re closed off when not in use.

With forced air, close the air supply register.  And hydraulic heating usually includes a flap on the baseboard conductors to cut power each unit.

Lower the Temperature Generally, every degree in Fahrenheit that the thermostat is lowered results in 2% of total heating energy being saved. Many thermostats can be programmed to change temperature settings throughout the day. However, you can do this manually by turning the heat down every time you leave your home.  You may also find that slightly cooler temperatures when you're sleeping at night are also just fine.

The reverse is true in the summer when you are using your air conditioner. By raising your thermostat setting, you won't be wasting electricity to cool an empty house.

Storm Windows If you use them, make sure your storm windows are properly installed in the fall.  Check them to make sure they fit well and that there are no air-leaking gaps.  Proper usage will cut down on drafts and heat leakage. Showers By shortening your shower time or turning your water down when shampooing your hair or shaving, you save in both water costs and the expense of heating water.  You can also install a low-flow shower head. Clothes Washing When you switch to cold water washing, you’ll save energy by not needing hot water. Although some fabrics require warm water, most of them will be fine with cold. There are also specialty detergents designed for the cold cycle.  Hang dry items instead of using your dryer for a full cycle.  To remove any resulting stiffness, briefly put your clothing in the dryer afterwards to fluff it. Dishwasher By only using your dishwasher when it's completely full, you save on the energy used for heating water and the heated drying cycle. It's also possible to turn off the electric heat dry feature on some models.  If you have an off-peak power arrangement with your electric utility, consider only running your dishwasher during those hours.  If your dishwasher has a programmable delay, that can make things more convenient. By living consciously and intelligently, you can save energy and resources without spending any extra money.  Quarve Contracting is committed to enhancing green living in homes, and we're happy to pass along energy-saving tips we come across.