Save Energy, Save Money

— Written By N.C. Cooperative Extension

Save Energy, Save Money

It’s that time of the year again, sky high temperatures, and energy bills to match.  There’s been a shamefully kept secret though…you can save some green by going green.  To those wary readers, living a more environmentally friendly life doesn’t mean you have to go out and buy a new hybrid car, it can be as simple as changing a light bulb.  In fact, there’s been a lot of buzz over Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs) recently and rightfully so.  CFL’s use 75% less energy than conventional incandescent bulbs and will last about 10 times longer.  In addition they produce 75% less heat, which will save money on cooling your home.  Just as easily as you can change a light bulb, there are many easily identified home energy issues that can painlessly be remedied.

Did you know there are many areas in a home that can allow air to enter and escape?  In fact the constant escape of air forces your air conditioner to run less efficiently and more frequently.  To save resources, look for cracks and gaps in doors, windows, and areas where piping exits the home; search anywhere that connects to the outside, which can allow air to escape.  These small air-leaks can be sealed with caulk, while doors and windows can be weather stripped to better insulate your home.  Visit for more information on weather stripping and caulking as well as a variety of other energy saving topics.  It is important to have a well insulated home so the air conditioning doesn’t have to work as hard, but it is equally important to know how to effectively utilize your thermostat settings.

To more efficiently cool your home set your thermostat fan switch to “auto” instead of “on.”  In doing this, the unit will not constantly run, instead only powering up when needed.  Setting your thermostat temperature higher when no one is home will also reduce cooling costs, after all, who is going to benefit from cool temperatures in an empty house?  How many people out there leave their fan running even when you aren’t in the room?  Can you feel it when you’re gone?  The truth is fans only re-circulate the air in a room, not cool it, so it only costs you money to leave it running.  Speaking of leaving appliances running, when left plugged in and unused, a menace lurks in the outlet…phantom energy! 

Appliances continually draw power to an outlet even when powered off; this energy is referred to as phantom energy.  Think of how many plugs are hanging from your outlet now, endlessly pulling energy from the grid and tacking it onto your energy bill.  An easy solution for this problem is to invest in a power strip, which will allow you to cut the power to all those plugs without all the hassle.  In addition to unplugging unused electronics, it is also important to realize the time of day these appliances are being run.

To keep the air cooler in your home, save the laundry and dishwashing for times of the day when the temperature is lower, ideally morning or evening.  Appliances produce a lot of heat and humidity which will force your A/C to run more frequently.  When doing laundry, strive to wash on the cold setting as often as possible, and make efforts to run the dryer with a full load, this will cut down on energy used to heat water as well as ensure you only run the dryer when necessary.

As you can see, becoming a bit greener in your life doesn’t have to be a chore, and it can even keep your wallet greener too.  For more information about reducing energy use, please visit: or join us at an upcoming Save Energy, Save Money, Save the Planet workshop.  Call the Franklin County Cooperative Extension Energy Interns Stephen, Drew or Lauren at 919-496-3344 for additional information or if interested in hosting an Energy Program.


Stephen is on assignment with NC State University, Department of Natural Resources to work with N.C. Cooperative Extension this summer.  He works on an Energy Conservation team to provide educational workshops for the community.  If your group is interested in a free workshop, please contact your local Cooperative Extension office today.

The Family & Consumer Sciences is a department of North Carolina Cooperative Extension that includes prenatal to end-of-life programs.  Priorities for North Carolina citizens consist of:  Family & Parenting Education; Balancing Work & Family Workshops; Academic Success; Elder Care; Active Aging; Planning for the Future; Home Ownership & Housing Issues; Conservation & Environmental Issues; Leadership; Emergency Management and more.  Call 919-496-3344, email or visit for additional information.