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Lights, Appliances, Heating and Cooling: Giving Them a Greener Touch

Say you’re making a checklist for how to make your house significantly greener. Upon categorizing your energy usage, you’ll probably find that lighting, heating and cooling, and appliances eat up a sizable part of the checklist. Heating and cooling is the biggest user of energy in the modern home. Appliances and lighting are up there on the list as well.

Tackling these four energy consumers will put a big dent in your electric bill and shrink up your carbon footprint.


Lighting is the easiest to do and a good start for the green-living beginner. For just the expense of some compact fluorescent light bulbs (for which rebates may even be available), you will be surprised at how much electricity is saved.

So the key to greening your lights is two-fold:

  1. Switch to energy-efficient bulbs as mentioned above.
  2. Curb your energy usage. In other words, don’t leave the lights on unless you need them. Open the curtains, lift the blinds. The sun offers free and clean lighting.


These can be a touch trickier. If you have old, out of date appliances then the obvious choice is to go out and purchase some modern, energy efficient units. But that is not always possible, especially in these times of economic hardship. But there are some simple and free steps you can take to improve your own energy efficiency, even if your appliances remain old.

  • Use your oven range with a green mindset and you can cut wasted energy in half.
  • Dryers are some heavy energy users but expensive to replace. In the meantime, make sure the dryer is properly vented. Dry heavy fabrics (jeans, towels, bedding) separately from each other so you do not over stress the appliance.
  • Washing machines use a lot of water. Be sure to size your loads correctly. Wash and rinse in cold water whenever you can and use whatever energy-saving settings might be available on your machine.
  • Entertainment appliances such as DVD players, game consoles, receivers, stereos, etc. all consume electricity, even when they’re turned off. Run all of these appliances through a power strip and turn that off when you are not using any of the appliances. This conserves electricity more than you might think (this goes for your PC as well).
  • Refrigerators are another energy zapping appliance. Replacing an old refrigerator can save big bucks and keep your food fresh longer. A few more tips: Do not leave the door open. Let leftovers cool before putting them in the fridge. Is your refrigerator always half full? Then get a smaller refrigerator…there’s no use in cooling empty space.


Now comes the behemoth. The number one consumer of energy in the average home is space heating and cooling. The best thing you can do for your outdated and inefficient system is replace it with a newer unit that carries the Energy Star label. There are, however, a few actions you can take to green up your heating and cooling system.

  1. Keep it tuned and clean. You can have your HVAC system tuned up by a professional hvac contractor. You can replace air filters yourself.
  2. Seal and insulate your home where it is lacking. This will take a huge amount of stress off of your heating and cooling system.
  3. Programmable thermostats are great because you set them to fit your lifestyle and schedule so your HVAC system is not heating or cooling an empty house every day.
  4. Consider the alternatives. Geothermal heat pumps effectively use moderate ground temperatures to heat and cool your home. They cost more than conventional systems, but rebates are often available and it is free, alternative energy.


Add up all these steps and you’ve cut your electricity usage by as much as 50 percent. The biggest part of living a sustainable lifestyle is simply to be aware of your own actions. Make replacing old appliances with new a goal and they’ll get replaced one by one. But in the meantime you can save amazing amounts of electricity simply by putting a lid on boiling water or setting the heat a few degrees cooler on the thermostat.

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