With utility costs rising and global warming taking its toll, we have more reason than ever to reassess how we use resources. The Alliance to Save Energy estimates that the average U.S. household sends twice as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as the average car, so it’s important for everyone to cut back their energy use. (Technically, power plants are the ones who spew the CO2, but they do it while producing power for us.) As you learned in the last chapter, you can start fighting pollution right in your own home. Same goes for water and electricity: You can do your part to conserve both by making simple changes around the house.
The first step toward conserving electricity—and lowering your utility bills—is to examine how you use energy. This chapter shows you how to give your home a checkup to find out. After that, you’ll learn all kinds of ways to increase your home’s efficiency, including a whole section about heating and cooling systems, which (in an average home) eat up more than half of the energy you pay for each year. Then you’ll get info about how much power your appliances use and, if you’re shopping for new ones, how to find the most efficient models. You’ll learn other great tips for cutting your electricity bill, saving water, and lighting your home, too. Making even a few of the changes suggested in this chapter will put you well on your way to using less energy and helping the planet.