Here on Long Island, we pay sky-high rates for electricity. Anything you can do to lower those bills not only helps your wallet, it helps the environment.
1. Turn the central air up a few degrees. Central air is the biggest electricity hog in a typical home. Is a few degrees warmer in the house really going to bother you? Use fans and open windows as often as possible instead of central air. Even if you turn the AC on, try turning the temp up a bit and using fans as well to keep cool.
2. Unplug everything when not in use. If your Hamptons house is used during the summer and occasional weekends, this tip is even easier and more important. Plug computer equipment, TVs, set-top boxes, and similar into power strips and turn off the strip when you're not using the equipment. Quick-start circuits on those items draw electricity even when they're turned off. Unplug chargers that aren't connected to anything, digital picture frames, and so on. High-def DVRs and cable boxes may actually use more electricity than your refrigerator, so turn them off whenever you can.
3. Replace your lightbulbs, if you can stand it. A lot of people hate compact fluorescent bulbs, but the fact is, they use 75 percent less electricity than incandescents and they last longer.
4. Put your computer to sleep when you won't be using it for more than a minute or two.
5. Be smart about washing your clothes. Use the cold-water setting on the washer; since 90 percent of the energy used by the washer is heating up the water, you'll save a lot. Front-loaders use a lot less energy and water than top-loaders
6. Consider using a clothesline to dry some items. Line-dried sheets smell heavenly. Another idea is to dry on the line then fluff items like towels in the dryer for a short time. Always clean the lint filter in the dryer every time you use it; a dirty filter can make the dryer run 30 percent
less efficiently. If you need a new dryer, consider a gas model; they cost more than electric but save money over their life, especially in an area with high electrical rates.
7. Seal leaks. You worry about weatherstripping and caulking in winter to keep heat in your home, but it's just as important in the summer to keep your cooled air in.
8. Keep refrigerator coils clean. Just vacuum, and your fridge will run much more efficiently. Keep air conditioner filters clean, too.
9. Use your microwave to cook as much as possible, as it uses less than half the energy of a conventional oven and takes much less time.
10. Finally: use less electricity. Sounds obvious, but it's worth thinking about. Turn off the lights in rooms no one is in. Use tabletop lamps instead of overhead lighting. Open curtains fully during the day so you don't have to turn on lamps.