These energy-saving tips will help you go green at home

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Using energy in nearly every aspect of daily life produces greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. So, saving energy at home helps protect the environment and lowers utility costs.

Home appliances, heating and cooling equipment, and indoor and outdoor lighting all draw power. So do smartphone chargers, laptops, plasma TVs, and anything that’s plugged into any outlet in any room.

From turning off the light when you leave the room, to only using the washer when it’s full, there are simple actions you can take to conserve energy and lower your household’s carbon footprint. Follow these tips for easy ways to go green at home.

Switch to LED Light Bulbs

Swapping incandescent light bulbs for energy-efficient LEDs is a straightforward way to conserve energy. ENERGY STAR certified light bulbs use 90% less energy than standard bulbs, according to ENERGY STAR.

If every U.S. household swapped one traditional bulb with one ENERGY STAR certified bulb, it would save $580 million in energy costs and prevent 7 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions each year. That’s a significant impact for one small action.

You can use LED bulbs for indoor and outdoor lighting, ceiling fixtures, lamps, and more. The more bulbs you replace, the more energy you save. Use Duquesne Light Co.’s handy Lighting Calculator to estimate energy, carbon dioxide, and money savings as you make the LED switch.

Turn Off Lights and Leverage Daylight

It’s easy to forget to turn off the light when you leave a room – especially if you’re running late and dash out the door. Saving energy is as simple as making sure you flip the light switch off when you leave a room. You can also avoid turning lights on altogether if you open blinds and curtains during the day to utilize as much natural daylight as possible.

Unplug Appliances and Electronics When You’re Not Using Them

Many appliances and electronic devices use energy when they are not turned on and plugged into a wall outlet. To prevent this “energy vampire,” unplug small appliances and electronic devices like the toaster, coffeemaker, can opener, hair dryer, computer, phone and tablet charger, and printer, when you are not using them.

Use ENERGY STAR Certified Appliances

ENERGY STAR certified appliances are more environmentally friendly than older models. For example, ENERGY STAR certified clothes washers use 25% less energy and 33% less water than standard washers, according to ENERGY STAR. So, if you have an older washer, dryer, refrigerator, stove, or dishwasher, investing in a new energy-efficient model will cut energy costs and usage.

Install a Smart Thermostat

Lowering the temperature while you’re away at work or school conserves energy and reduces your heating and cooling costs.

A smart thermostat learns your routines over time and automatically adjusts home temperatures accordingly. Installing one is a wise sustainable investment.

Seal Cracks Around Windows and Doors

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, drafts cause about 10%-20% of energy loss in U.S. homes. Air escapes through cracks in window and door frames. Be sure to inspect these regularly and apply caulk or replace worn weatherstripping to seal cracks and maximize heating and cooling efficiency. You can also place draft stoppers at the base of exterior and sliding doors to prevent heating and cooling loss.

Inspect and Tune Up HVAC Equipment

You should have an HVAC professional inspect and tune up your HVAC equipment in the spring and fall to ensure its working properly. Malfunctioning equipment can cause energy loss. If carbon monoxide leaks from your furnace, it could be deadly. Part of the annual service includes changing your furnace filter. Having a clean filter increases air flow, reduces energy pollution, and boosts energy efficiency.

Turn Off Faucets and Take Short Showers

Water is a vital, life-sustaining natural resource. According to water.org, 771 million people around the world do not have access to safe water. The World Economic Forum projects that the gap between global water supply and demand will reach 40% by 2030 if the status quo continues.

So, doing your part to save water at home is essential. Turning off the faucet while you brush your teeth, installing low-flow shower heads, taking a short shower, and turning the water off while you lather up, are all easy actions to take to reduce water waste.

Only Run the Clothes Washer and Dishwasher with Full Loads

Another way to save water is to run the clothes washer and dishwasher only when they have full loads. Doing so uses less water and energy, so this is a two-for-one sustainable effort. Also, don’t rinse dirty dishes before you load them into the dishwasher. It’s unnecessary and wastes water.

Fix Water Leaks

An average family wastes 9,400 gallons of water a year due to leaks and nationwide, household leaks waste almost 900 billion gallons of water annually, according to the EPA.

If you’re handy, fix any leak you see as soon as possible or call a professional to resolve it right away.

Use Renewable Solar Energy Whenever Possible

Solar power is a vast source of renewable energy, with huge environmental potential. Simply opening the blinds and absorbing the sun through the window helps heat a space during colder months. To draw even more solar energy into your home, you can also install skylights.

Using solar-powered gadgets like phone chargers, power banks, security systems, outdoor wireless speakers, and even a wireless keyboard are all easy green swaps.

If you have the means, you can also install solar panels to power your entire home. Duquesne Light Co. can help customers connect renewable energy sources to their system.

“We welcome customers who would like to interconnect a qualified, renewable energy generating system, such as a solar panel or wind turbine, to our transmission and distribution system,” said DLC.

Overall, Duquesne Light Co. is always there to help Pittsburgh customers find ways to increase energy efficiency, earn money-saving rebates, and go green at home. Visit DLC’s Home Energy Center for more information.

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