Saving energy makes sense (and cents). Here are 10 easy ways to conserve that can add up to smaller utility bills.

By James H. Schwartz
April 17, 2007

In our March '07 Building to Last special section we listed 10Easy Ways to Save Energy (see "Worth the Effort"). So many readerswrote to us asking for additional pointers about conservation thatwe've compiled 10 more tips you can try at home, no matter whereyou live.

1. Enable the "sleep" mode on your computer. This allows themachine to automatically switch to an energy-saving mode afterseveral minutes of inactivity.

2. Televisions, cell phone chargers, printers, and manyother electronic devices still draw power even when they're notturned on. So-called "idle current" is a notorious energy thief.The solution? Disconnect devices entirely when not in use, or plugthem into power strips that you can switch off.

3. If you have an electric water heater and you're going onvacation for more than three days, switch it off entirely. Betterstill, equip it with a timer so that you only heat water during thehours you need it. (Neither of these tips apply to gas waterheaters, because they operate using pilot lights.)

4. Keep your fridge full to save energy. A full refrigeratordoesn't have to work as hard to stay cold. If you don't typicallyhave much food in your fridge, fill it with jugs of water. Like theice blocks in picnic coolers, the jugs will insulate the interiorand help keep it cold.

5. Install motion sensors to activate lights as needed. Youcan use sensors for both outside floods and interior lights inhigh-traffic rooms, such as the kitchen.

6. Replace halogen bulbs in standing lamps with compactfluorescents specifically designed for these fixtures. They're 60percent more efficient than halogens, and can produce morelight.

7. Take a trip upstairs and look for discolored spots inyour attic insulation. This telltale discoloration often comes fromair or water leaks. Seal the discolored area with plastic sheetingfrom the hardware store to create an energy-saving barrier, thensimply staple into place.

8. Look for the big yellow EnergyGuide stickers when you'reshopping for appliances. The bold number at the bottom of thesticker shows the estimated annual operating cost for theappliance. Compare numbers for the models you're considering andopt for the lowest number, which identifies the mostenergy-efficient appliance.

9. Install attic fans that draw hot air out of your atticand allow air conditioners downstairs to cool more efficiently. Tosave even more energy, consider solar-powered attic fans.

10. Think cool: Dryers can be tough on clothes (the heatadversely affects delicate fabrics). Opt for a laundry lineinstead. Do the same thing with your dishwasher: Switch off theheating cycle and allow dishes to air dry.

Bonus tip: Install a programmable thermostat. You can saveas much as 10 percent annually on heating and cooling by cuttingback your thermostat 10 to 15 percent for eight hours.