Karen McKenny, RN, is a nurse educator at the University of Vermont Medical Center.

Karen McKenny, RN, is a nurse educator at the University of Vermont Medical Center.

Looking for a way to save money? How about up to $1,000 a year?

Reducing your energy use can make a big difference – you can save big bucks and the planet at the same time. Here is a list of some of the low-hanging fruit that can reduce your juice without spending a lot up front.

Replace light bulbs with LEDs

For many households lighting can add up to 10 percent of energy costs. The new LED bulbs come in all shapes and sizes, different levels of warmth or cool light, and the price has come down dramatically. The average American household has 47 light bulbs that use about five hours of light per day on average over the course of a year. By switching to LEDs you can save approximately $42 per month or $500 per year!

Get rid of “energy vampires”

Electronics, gadgets, and appliances continue to draw power even when they aren’t in use. Anything that has a light, a clock, or feels warm is still drawing power even when it is off. This can add up to 10 percent of your energy costs. Over the course of a year, that adds up. Some homes have as many as 40 so called “energy vampires.” What to do? Unplug the items you use rarely or use power strips for groups of components like your TV, DVD, speakers, or your computer, printer, and gaming systems. Also, unplug the second fridge you have in the basement or garage. Only plug it in when needed. At the end of the night, turn off power strips for the night. The average American household can save $100 dollars per year by going after their phantom load.

Use a programmable thermstat

If you have one take the time to set it up. If you don’t have one, they are easy to use and install. Set your thermostat back by 10 degrees when you leave the house for the day and at night. Program your thermostat to warm the house back up before you get up in the morning and just before you get home. Did you know that for each 1-degree drop for an eight-hour period you reduce your fuel bill about one percent. So, if you set your thermostat back by 10 degrees you can save up to 10 percent of your heating bill. The average household can save $300-400 per year by doing this.

Use a low-flow showerhead

Stop watching your money go down the drain! Use a low-flow showerhead. The technology has improved in the last several years and you won’t be showering in a mist like you did with the old style aerators. After a week with a new shower head you won’t even notice the difference…except in your water and heating bills! Low-flow showerheads use 2.5 gallons per minute versus the regular style that uses 5.5 gallons per minute. Swapping out can save 27,000 gallons of water for a family of four each year, resulting in a savings of $260 annually.

Do one, two, or do them all and watch your energy bills drop! Saving energy saves money.

Karen McKenny, RN, is a nurse educator at the University of Vermont Medical Center.

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