With all the headlines about energy use, climate change, and sustainability, the manner in which we use our resources is getting a lot of attention these days. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Americans use about 18% of the energy produced in the world. By making a few changes, consumers can reap the benefits of going green.

Wash laundry with cold water
The Christian Science Monitor released an article about the cost difference between washing clothes with cold water instead of hot water. They concluded that Americans could save an average of $0.64 per load by making the switch.

In addition to saving money, cold water washes are easier on clothing, and they prevent stains from setting. Clothes actually last longer and maintain their color more readily when they are washed in cold water. Unless the item is heavily soiled, lowering the washer’s temperature will still leave clothing fresh and clean.

Fill the Freezer
Freezing food reduces food waste, but if the freezer itself can be more efficient with proper use. A half-full freezer has to run more often to cool the air inside of it. To keep the freezer from working overtime, place containers filled with water into the empty spaces. Repurpose old water bottles or milk jugs for a cost effective solution. As a bonus, if the power goes out, then the food will remain frozen for twice as long as food kept in a half-filled freezer.

Mind your blinds
Choosing the right window treatments can have a profound effect on the internal temperature of a home. Energy-saving curtains or blinds are an inexpensive way to keep hot and cool air on their respective sides of the glass regardless of the season. You can also purchase inexpensive window insulation kits to reduce energy use. The house will be more comfortable, and the electric bill will be lower.

Unplug Electronics
Homes these days are loaded with electronic devices. These battery-powered wonders are often in need of recharging. When charging is complete, unplug battery chargers. They will draw power as long as they are in the outlet.

Televisions, game systems, computers, and kitchen appliances continue to draw power even if they are switched off released an article detailing the effects of these “energy vampires.” The phantom draw from one item may be minuscule, but when multiplied across several electronics, these little bits of wasted energy add up. Unplug unused items or hook several items to power strips so that you can take control over these energy leaks.

Look for the Energy Star seal of approval
When you decide to shop for new appliances, make sure that they are Energy Star certified. Energy Star not only certifies appliances but virtually all building materials and electronics can be rated for energy efficiency. By choosing energy-efficient options, you can enjoy the same quality of life that you already have, but you’ll save on your electric bill. You may even be able to get tax credits.

Going green not only makes a lot of sense, but it can also save you dollars. Some of these energy-saving solutions require special purchases, but many of them are free to implement. Why not start by unplugging your unused electronics? Try a new tip every week, and watch your energy use decrease. These actions will have a positive impact on your wallet and the planet.