Page 26 THE VILLADOM TIMES III • March 18, 2009 Home Improvement & Gardening Expert advice on energy saving tips for the home (ARA) - What if you could easily save money and help the environment at the same time? You can. All it takes is a little expert advice on how to make your home more energy efficient. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the average family spends $1,900 a year on utility bills. Unfortunately, much of that money is being wasted on inefficient heating and cooling systems, or excess use of appliances, according to Greg Schuman, electrician program chair at Everest Institute in San Bernardino, California. Schuman advises homeowners to break their houses down into different systems of energy use, including heating, cooling, water heating, lighting, computers and electronics, appliances and refrigeration. Once you break down your energy spending into different components, you can look for ways to maximize your energy consumption in each area. Start with heating and cooling. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the costs of heating and cooling make up 46 percent of a family’s monthly utility bill. Schuman suggests you be conscious of the temperature at which you set your thermostat. Try to set your thermostat as high as is comfortable in summer and as low as is comfortable in winter. Schuman also recommends you buy timed thermostats that can be programmed to use less energy when you are at work during the day and asleep at night. Schuman says homeowners should take advantage of the sun’s natural heating. In winter months, you want to take advantage of the sun’s heat. Open the curtains on southern and western facing windows to let in as much light as possible and make sure to keep windows as clean as possible. Depending on the size of the windows, the sun can really side units. You also want to look for a fridge with automatic moisture control. Even if you aren’t in the market for a new refrigerator anytime soon, Becker says to make sure to cover liquids and food items to prevent moisture from accumulating in the fridge, which makes the fridge work harder. The stovetop and oven are more expensive to use than a microwave or toaster oven. “Toaster ovens actually use one-third to half as much energy as a full-sized oven, so use your toaster oven when possible,” Becker says. Laundering clothes differently also saves money. More than 90 percent of the cost of doing laundry comes from heating the water, so Becker suggests washing clothes in cold water whenever possible and making sure to fill loads completely before running them. He also advises not to over-dry clothes and, when possible, to air-dry your clothes. “Air drying is a great way to save energy, and it also has the added benefit of helping extend the life of your clothing,” says Becker. If you are willing to spend a little money, check your insulation. Adding insulation to your attic floor, basement, or crawl spaces is relatively easy and can prevent major heat loss in the winter. “If you are uncomfortably cold in the winter or hot in the summer, think about checking your insulation. Most homeowners don’t realize that only about 20 percent of homes built before 1980 are well-insulated,” Becker says. “With a few small changes in your daily routine, or relatively inexpensive home improvements, you can really cut down on your energy usage, which can have a significant impact on your long-term utility costs” Becker says. Spring help heat up a room. In summer, Schuman advises keeping shades down and draperies closed to prevent the sun from entering. Lighting is another relatively easy way to save energy. “Look into getting fluorescent light bulbs. Each light bulb can save you approximately $30 in electricity costs over its lifetime,” Schuman says. On average, fluorescent bulbs use 75 percent less energy, produce 75 percent less heat and can last up to 10 times as long as regular light bulbs, so they more than make up for the initial expense. When shopping for new appliances, Thad Becker, electrician program instructor at Everest Institute in San Bernardino, California, says to always think of both the immediate price tag and the long-term operating cost. “Sometimes it is worth it to pay more in the short run for a more energy-efficient appliance,” Becker says. With refrigerators, top freezers are more efficient than side-by- LANDSCAPING Cirino 15% OFF w/coupon • Exp. 4/4/09 • Not Combinable NEW CLIENTS ONLY CLEAN CHOICE LANDSCAPE YOUR #1 CHOICE FOR ALL YOUR EXTERIOR HOME, BUSINESS AND GARDEN MAINTENANCE NEEDS. – COMERCIAL AND RESIDENTIAL SPECIALISTS – Seasonal Clean Ups Weekly Lawn Maintenance Plantings and Design Mulch ANY JOB OR SERVICE ASK ABOUT OUR PRE-PAYMENT SEASONAL DISCOUNT! 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