With so many options to reduce your energy use, which actions are best for you and your family? Go to the Minnesota Energy Challenge, mnenergychallenge.org, to see how much money and how many pounds of carbon dioxide emissions you save with simple, hassle-free actions. The average Minnesota family spends over $4,000 on energy (includes natural gas, electricity and gasoline) and produces over 50,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per year. The actions listed below provide impressive savings in dollars and energy.
Families with children can focus on everyday convenient actions that teach kids to conserve energy. Kids can take action, too!
- Turn off lights and electronics (TVs, radios, computers) when leaving a room. This can help your family avoid producing 298 pounds of carbon dioxide over the course of the year.
- Be mindful of your heat and central air. Turning your furnace thermostat down just two degrees in the winter saves $53/year and prevents 569 pounds of CO2, and you won’t even notice the change.
- Unplug electronics and appliances while not in use, like cell phone chargers, video game consoles, and microwaves. Anything with a clock, remote or LED light is using energy all the time, even if it’s turned off. Power strips are a quick fix—and you can save $14/year.
Homeowners can often save the most energy by focusing on the major appliances and structural components of their home.
- Replace your 20- (or more) year old furnace with a highly efficient (94%) model with a variable speed blower. You can save $204/year and avoid 2192 pounds of CO2.
- Make sure your attic is up to code with 14″ of settled insulation. Adequate attic insulation will help you avoid ice dams, save $86 a year and avoid 934 pounds of CO2.
- Replace your 15-year old refrigerator with a modern, more efficient model. This can save $54/year and prevent 1095 pounds of CO2.
Renters can still save a lot of energy by taking these low-cost measures.
- Switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs—they use 75% less electricity and last 7-10 times longer than traditional incandescents. Each bulb can save you up to $40 over its lifetime, and you can take them with you if you move!
- Take public transportation, walk or bike as much as you can. Leaving your car at home just one day a week can save you over $150/year. If you do drive, make sure you stick to the speed limit. Driving 55 on the freeway puts an additional $200 in your pocket a year.
- Recycle! Recycling really does make a difference. Recycling just the basics at homeâ€”paper, cans and bottlesâ€”can reduce your carbon footprint by 10%.
Everyone—kids, homeowners and renters—makes a difference when they use less energy!