Carter's Efficiency Tips

Carter Oosterhouse offers advice on saving energy, water and making your home more environmentally friendly.

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Carter Oosterhouse offers advice on saving energy and water and making your home more environmentally friendly.

1. Use Fluorescent Bulbs
Replace conventional incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). They cost a little more, but last up to 10 times longer, use two-thirds less energy and give off 70 percent less heat.

2. Look for the Energy Star Label
Energy Star-qualified refrigerators use about half as much energy as refrigerators made before 1993, and saving energy also cuts down on pollution. Look for Energy Star certification when shopping for other home appliances such as dishwashers, clothes washers, water heaters and many home electronics. Visit www.energystar.gov/ for more information about this program.

3. Get Unplugged
Many home electronics still consume energy even when they are turned off. Many devices with a "standby mode" will continue to use power, running up your electricity bill. Also, chargers and power adapters continue to draw power from the wall socket even if the device is not attached. Unplug these devices or use a power strip to turn off multiple units, when they aren't being used to make sure that you aren't wasting energy.

4. Double-Up on Windows
Replacing old single-pane windows with double pane-windows helps reduce heat loss in winter and heat gain in the summer. They can also help reduce noise pollution in your home.

5. Turn Down the Thermostat
Lowering you thermostat by just one degree can reduce costs by about four percent, so keeping the heat turned down just a little bit can reduce energy costs. Using a ceiling fan in the summer and the winter can also help with A/C and heating energy consumption.

6. Sustainable Floors
Cork flooring not only looks great, but it's also natural insulator. So when you look into purchasing flooring, consider using bamboo, cork or another sustainable material. Not only will your new floors look fantastic, but they'll also save you money in the end.

7. Earth-Friendly Decks
A lot of deck material comes from tropical hardwoods. These woods look great and stand up to the elements for a very long time. But when choosing decking material, make sure you choose wood that has been harvested using sustainable methods. This helps the environment and preserves endangered rainforests.

8. Low-Flow Faucets
Low-flow water fixtures such as showerheads, faucets and toilets reduce water consumption and water heating costs by as much as 50 percent.

9. Buy Renewable Energy
Check with your local utility company and see if you can purchase renewable energy. Renewable, non-emitting sources such as wind, solar and hydroelectric power cut down on emissions, reduce volatile fuel prices and can save you money.

10. Recycle!
After you replace all those inefficient, windows and fixtures, make sure you recycle all that metal and glass. Also, most household paper items, glass, aluminum cans and plastic can be recycled. By recycling half of your household waste, you can save 2,400 pounds of carbon dioxide annually. Find more information about programs in your area at www.recycle.com/.

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