Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

1. Set the mood

Dimmer switches on your lights not only help keep the mood festive — they help lower your energy consumption and extend the life span of your bulbs. Dimming your lights by just 20% can quadruple a bulb’s life span.

2. If you can’t stand the heat

Take advantage of all that labor “over a hot stove” — if you’re cooking all day with the oven and stove on, you’ll be adding enough heat to your home that chances are no one will notice if you turn your thermostat down a few degrees

3. Stay out of hot water

Check your hot water heater — there’s no reason to keep it above 140 degrees. More than that and you’re just mixing cold water back in to cool it down to a usable temperature.

4. And keep your laundry out of hot water too

Modern detergent and washing machine technology mean that the rules we’re used to regarding different temperatures for different fabrics, colors or stains are outdated now. Cold water is not only just as effective these days, sometimes it can even be better — hot water can set some types of stains and shrink or wrinkle some fabrics. Using cold instead of hot water can reduce the energy required for a load by up to 90%. Real Simple estimates using cold water cycles instead of hot can save most homes about $40 a year.

5. Don’t rinse, scrape

Save water by scraping dishes rather than rinsing them before putting them in the dishwasher — dishwashers are meant to deal with dirty dishes. According to Consumer Reports, rinsing your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher can waste 6,000 gallons of water a year.