New Year's resolutions to save energy

  • Article by: ROSEMARY SADEZ FRIEDMANN , Scripps Howard News Service
  • Updated: December 29, 2012 - 12:10 PM

Energy-saving appliances can also save you money.

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These dryers offer an energy-efficient alternative to your old clunker: From left, Whirlpool Cabrio HE Electric Dryer; Frigidaire Affinity Front Load Electric; Electrolux Wave-Touch Front-Load Dryer. credit:

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As you make out your list of New Year's resolutions, consider including your home when thinking about making healthy changes.

Green isn't just a holiday color -- it's the latest trend in preservation. Setting aside political correctness, there are some genuine advantages to this green stuff. Let's explore some of the green advice that will help "save the planet" -- and put money in your pocket.

Lowering your utility bill at bit each month would be a good thing, right?

One sure way to do that is to purchase appliances that are Energy Star-rated. With Energy Star appliances, your home's overall value will rise in two ways.

First, your house will be worth more because you have newer appliances. Second, the new appliances use less energy, so if you ever put your home on the market, these will be two selling points that might give you an edge.

Unless you are wealthy, you probably won't be able to replace all of your appliances, including the air-conditioning unit, all at once. But slowly, over time, replacing the appliances with Energy Star-rated ones will be a good choice.

Front-load washers use less water, and dishwashers with a light and normal cycle choice give you flexibility for their water use.

As for refrigerator/freezer combinations, if there is enough space in the kitchen, the best choice is separate units. A big kitchen might have space for a separate beverage/snack refrigerator. Some of these are available in drawer style. The advantage there is that the smaller beverage/snack fridge will be used more, and the bigger appliance opened less often, so less energy will be lost.

If your home has an in-the-wall air conditioner, surround it with plexiglass to help limit air seepage.

And, remember that small, countertop appliances can seep energy even when not in use.

If they have built-in digital clocks or timers, they are using energy. If you must have that coffee ready first thing in the morning, leave that one plugged in, but other, less-used small appliances should be unplugged when not in use.

Putting all the small appliances other than the coffeemaker and the microwave on a master switch will make that job easier. Switch them on in the morning, and off at night when they won't be used.

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