March 8, 2009 -- When money is tight, Americans are looking for ways wherever they can. The Wattay and the Luttrell families, both from Del., learned that by following a few simple tips they could save between 20 and 30 percent on their monthly energy costs.
Steve Luxton, an energy auditor for CMC Energy in Fort Washington, Pa., evaulated the energy use of these two families participating in "GMA's" Frugal Family Challenge.
Change Habits, Cut Costs
Take Control of the Temperature: Install a programmable thermostat -- every degree you set back will save 2 percent to 3 percent. If you already have one, take the time to program it.
Keep It Clean: Inspect, clean or replace your furnace or heat pump filter every month during the months your system is used.
Skip the Space Heater: Avoid using electric space heaters unless your home is heated with electricity.
Ensure Proper Ventilation: Keep registers open and unobstructed to allow for proper air flow.
Use Ceiling Fans Year-Round: Use ceiling fans to complement heating and cooling -- clockwise rotation for heating and counterclockwise will improve cooling.
Buy the Best Bulbs: Compact fluorescent bulbs use two-thirds less energy than incandescent bulbs and last an average 10 times longer, saving on average $50 or more per bulb during the life of the bulb.
Simple Steps to Cut Energy Costs
Save in the Shower: Use energy efficient showerheads that have flow rates of less than two gallons per minute.
Stay Out of Hot Water: Use cold water for washing clothes -- clothes will be just as clean and bright.
Take Your Temperature: Measure the temperature of your hot water with a simple thermometer to ensure that it is no hotter than 125 degrees.
Check Your Refrigerator: Using the same thermometer, check the fresh foods section temperature of your refrigerator to maintain the ideal setting of 37 to 40 degrees and 5 degrees in the freezer section.
Skip the Second Refrigerator: Try to relocate or discontinue using secondary refrigerators that are located in unconditioned garages or other hot areas of the home.
Air Dry All the Way: Use the air dry feature when using the dishwasher instead of the more expensive heated drying.
Shop for Efficient Appliances: When purchasing new appliances, always select Energy Star models or units with higher efficiency ratings.