Install cooler lighting
High-powered flat-screen TVs and digital home offices have helped to spike our twenty-first-century electrical demands, but no individual gadget burns as much power as your lamps and chandeliers do. The average home spends about 12 percent of its energy bill on lighting--close to what's wasted on standby power.
The fix: Phase out those old-school, short-lived incandescent lightbulbs in favor of cooler, compact fluorescents that burn just as brightly yet use one-third the electricity. Start by replacing bulbs in frequently lit rooms until you can afford to eventually commit the whole house to refreshed lighting. In addition, you can install motion sensors in heavily trafficked areas, such as hallways, bathrooms, and porches, and let timers do more of the work for you by shutting down the lights when you head to bed.
The familiar Energy Star logo marks efficient lighting at the hardware store in addition to household appliances and computer equipment.
Compact fluorescent lights come in all kinds of designs, but white LED lights could become the next big thing in greener lighting (as well as within monitors). For now, LEDs are too expensive to make efficient room lighting sources (although you could splurge on an LED desk lamp). The colorful LED clocks and displays on microwaves and digital video recorders can expend more energy than the machines do over their lifespan to reheat coffee and play movies. However, LED technology known as solid state lighting has great potential for becoming even more efficient, durable, cheaper, and more attractive than fluorescent bulbs in the coming decades. For now, at least, you can celebrate your home's cooler lighting by stringing up strands of ultrabright LED holiday lights.