How to Kill Your Watts

The list below offers a glimpse of the many energy-saving tips provided on the Kill-a-Watt Challenge Web site, where you'll also find links to rebates, loans, and tax credits for home-energy improvements as well as resources for renters and businesses.

1) Use Austin Energy's free online energy audit to find out how much energy your home uses: www.austinenergy.com/go/homeaudit.

2) Weatherize your home (insulate your attic, caulk your plumbing, weather-strip your doors, and install awnings or solar shading).

3) Control the temperature of your home: From maintaining your air-conditioning units and ductwork to adjusting your thermometer, controlling your cooling will make a big difference on your utility bill.

4) Improve the efficiency of your windows: Plant shade trees, install solar screens (or bamboo shades), use window film, caulk around your windows, replace them with low-emittance glass, or install storm windows.

5) Launder efficiently: Run only full loads, and never wash on hot.

6) Wash dishes efficiently: Run only full loads, let dishes air-dry at the end of the cycle, and don't let the water run while you hand-wash.

7) Switch to compact fluorescent lightbulbs.

8) Don't forget to turn off the lights when you leave the room.

9) Run your refrigerator efficiently: Set the temperature at 36-38 degrees, vacuum the coils, and replace worn seals.

10) Cook efficiently: Use your microwave when you can, cover your pots to cut boiling time, and avoid putting hot food in your fridge.

11) Unplug devices that pull electricity even when they're turned "off" (including remote-controlled TVs, computer peripherals, entertainment-center electronics, and cell phone chargers).

12) Switch to Energy Star-rated appliances.

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