You can save money by reducing the amount of energy your family uses. It will require changing both your habits and your house. But with government incentives for greening your home, now is a great time to do it.
By Dan Tynan
Lighting accounts for 11 percent of most home electricity bills, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Use these tips to cut down your lighting usage and costs:
Go fluorescent. Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) last up to 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs and draw only about 25 percent as much electricity, says Ronnie J. Kweller of the Alliance to Save Energy, in Washington, D.C. Though more expensive, CFLs can save consumers up to $50 over the lifetime of each bulb, and because CFLs put out much less heat, installing them will also help trim your AC costs in summer.
Consider LEDs. Lights that use light-emitting diodes (LEDs) draw even less power and last far longer than CFLs. But they're pricey—$60 and up each—and don't always work with dimmer switches. Eventually, prices will come down and they'll replace CFLs, says Joseph Harberg of Currentenergy.com, a Web-based store devoted to energy efficiency.
Make it automatic. You can save even more money by turning off lights when they're not needed. Adding motion sensors can ensure rooms go dark when not in use, though it's a bad idea to put one in the bathroom, says Harberg. For total control, an automated lighting system like Hawking Technologies' HomeRemote Pro (available at hawkingtech.com) lets you put all your lights (and other appliances) on a schedule and control them via any Web-connected computer. Kits for networking lights start at around $200, and most homes' lighting systems can be automated for under $1,000, says company officer Jason Owen.