There are lots of good reasons to conserve energy at home, not the least of which is saving money on your home electricity and heating bills. And then there’s the little matter of saving the planet… The good news is conserving energy – in real ways that can help your wallet (and then the planet) right now – can start right away. As in…today.

Here are a few low-cost and no-cost ways to start saving energy:

  1. Install a programmable thermostat. When you do this, we guarantee you’ll say, “that’s it?” followed by, “why didn’t I do that sooner?” A programmable thermostat that can be set to specific temperatures on a schedule (for example, lower at night while you’re sleeping, or during the workday when you’re out of the house) can lower the costs of your heating and cooling systems.
  2. Air dry dishes and clothes. Instead of using your dishwasher’s drying cycle, which uses a lot of electricity, let your clean dishes air dry on the countertop. The same thing applies to laundry. When the weather’s good, go old school and hang your laundry out in the back yard. The sun and fresh air will do wonders for your clothes, and the little bit of time spent clipping clothespins can be very relaxing and meditative.
  3. Lower the temperature of your water heater. Set the thermostat at 120°F. You won’t even know the difference in your daily shower, but you will notice a difference in your utility bill.
  4. Wash only full loads of clothes. Sure, it’s tempting to toss a few items in the washer so you can wear them tomorrow, but the water, and energy to heat it, really adds up. Give up a little convenience and plan your laundry so that you only wash full loads.
  5. Switch to fluorescent bulbs. Compact fluorescent light bulbs use at least two-thirds less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs, and they last up to 10 times longer. Not to mention, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, if every household in the United States replaced just one regular incandescent bulb with a compact fluorescent light bulb, it would prevent 90 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, the equivalent of taking 7.5 million cars off the road. It’s a no-brainer!
  6. Switch it off. Yep, just like your mom always said, turn the lights off when you’re not in the room!
  7. Drive carefully. Avoid aggressive driving and the attendant rapid acceleration and braking. This is a big fuel waster. And don’t idle your engine when you’re waiting for the kids after soccer practice. (In some states, such as New Jersey, idling is against the law.)

For more energy-saving ideas, visit energysavers.gov.