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Evaluate your energy use on Earth Day

LED Cluster_6Earth Day is coming up Friday. If you need energy tips to cut your utility bills, here are suggestions from the National Resources Defense Council:

Use energy efficient light bulbs

When all of America's estimated 4 billion lighting sockets contain energy-saving bulbs that meet energy standards, American consumers and businesses will save about $12.5 billion every year – and will have cleaner air and a healthier environment.

Install solar-powered yard lights

Solar lights spend the day storing sunshine and turn on automatically after dark.

Pick the best method for streaming

If your family or friends likes to binge-watch shows with services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, make sure they don't use an Xbox or PlayStation to stream them. They can use 25 or more times more power than a streaming device such as Apple TV,Roku, or a Google Chromecast to watch the same show. Better yet, a smart, Internet-connected television can stream content from the Internet directly without the need for any other devices.

Adjust TV settings

Most recently purchased televisions have a feature called Automatic Brightness Control that automatically adjusts the screen's brightness depending on how much light there is in the room. If you're watching a movie at night in a dimly lit room, let the TV automatically turn down the brightness – it will use less power. Disabling ABC can lead to some TVs use 50 percent more power.

Update cable or satellite TV set-top boxes

Until recently, pay TV providers such Comcast and Dish Network installed a DVR on each television to record a show and watch it later. But now, all the cable and satellite companies have a solution that can reduce your household's set-top box energy use: a single, entire home DVR on your main TV and low energy-consuming boxes called thin clients on your second and third televisions. In some cases, this can cut your annual electric bill by about $50. If you have multiple DVRs, turn the extra ones back in to your pay TV provider and request a multi- room DVR. And if you're signing up for new service, request a box that meets ENERGY STAR Version 4.1 because they use a lot less energy.

Install water-saving aerators for the kitchen and bathroom sinks

Water-saving aerators can be found at home improvement stores for less than $5 and quickly pay for themselves in lower water and energy bills. They can cut water waste by 40 percent. Choose an aerator for the kitchen that allows water to flow at no more than 1.8 gallons per minute, and get bathroom sink aerators that bring the flow down to 1.2 gallons per minute.

Don't pre-wash or hand-wash dishes

New dishwashers use just 3 to 4 gallons of water to clean an entire load after you've scraped off food. It takes much more water to pre-wash or hand-wash dishes, the average faucet uses 2 gallons of water or more per minute.

Get a low-flow toilet

Especially if you're in a drought area, consider a new low-flow toilet with the Water Sense label. Older toilets require as much as 5 gallons of water per flush. New ones use as little as 1.28 gallons for each flush.

Clean your filters

Appliances such as clothes dryers and furnaces work more efficiently when their filters aren’t clogged with lint and dust. Clean the dryer filter before every load, and change out the furnace filter a couple of times each winter.

Hope these tips help you celebrate Earth Day 2016.

Copyright 2016, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist

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