It takes a lot of energy to raise a child. No kidding, right? It takes an enormous amount of physical energy to keep up with (and stay one step ahead of) your kids. But you also need a lot of energy in the form of fossil fuels (coal, oil, or natural gas) for the electricity required to keep your kids warm, cool, clean, clothed, and fed. The average American family’s energy use damages water resources, contributing to global warming, deteriorating human health, triggering acid rain, and damaging habitat for wildlife.

Americans use nearly a million dollars worth of energy every minute, night and day, every day of the year, with the largest portion of the energy bill going towards keeping the home a comfortable temperature. Heating accounts for 66% of your annual energy bill, followed by 22% for air conditioning. Other big energy users are appliances and the hot water heater.  Every kilowatt you conserve and every battery you save can significantly trim your monthly energy bill while helping to protect the planet. Here are 5 family-friendly ideas for reducing energy consumption in your home.

  1. Control your temperature: Two thirds of your home’s energy consumption is used to keep you warm and another big chunk is used to keep you cool. Even a minor adjustment in your thermostat can slash your energy use. During the summer months, bump up the thermostat to 78 degrees and open the windows when there is a fresh breeze. In the winter, set it to around 68 degrees and turn it down even more (try 55 degrees) when you go to sleep or are away for the day. Ready to take it one step further?  make a pledge to "freeze yer buns" this winter. 
  2. Pull The Plug: Even when appliances are off, they are still draining energy in “standby” mode. Use a power strip to turn off televisions, stereos, and computer systems when you are not using them and unplug appliances such as phone chargers, extra refrigerators, and printers until you need them. 
  3. Install CFLs: Consider swapping out regular light bulbs for energy-saving, long-lasting compact fluorescents (CFLs) to save both energy and cash. CFLs cost a few cents more than standard bulbs, but they require about ¼ of the energy to produce the same amount and quality of light, and they last ten times as long (saving you money down the road). 
  4. Buy Energy Star Appliances: There is now an energy-efficient alternative for almost every kind of appliance or light fixture, so you don’t need to forgo convenience in order to save energy. Check out the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Star program to find a list of appliances that use less energy than standard models. Of course, it doesn’t make ecological or financial sense to throw good stuff away. If your toaster is running fine, don’t toss it, but look for the star the next time you need to replace it.
  5. Support Renewable Energy: If your local utility offers you a choice, select renewable energy or purchase green credits to offset your energy use.

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