Meet Anthony D.

I have always been conscious of what I am wasting. As the years pass, I realize that I am the one scolding someone for leaving the light on or the door open longer than it needs to be. I am just about to finish college and am yet to be in the financial state that I would like to be, but I make small changes in hopes to make a little difference. I used to have plug-in air fresheners, but then I switched to candles. They warm the house and make it smell good. Every winter I put plastic on my windows to keep the heat in. I unplug unused electronics so that they do not use unnecessary power. I have changed over most of my light bulbs to energy-efficient ones. I only wash full loads of laundry so I do not waste water or power. I recycle everything I can and even take all of my girlfriend's recyclables. I have aspirations to do more, but will have to wait until I have the means.

– Anthony D.

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Meet Steven R.

When my house was built in 1986, I had Energy Trusses installed. This allows a full layer of attic insulation to reach all the way out to the eaves. All the lamps in my residence are now Compact Fluorescent Lamps. My thermostat is set at 68° in the winter and 74° in the summer. I just spent $3,400 for a new patio door and one other window installation because they were not tightly sealed. I would like to replace all the windows next.

– Steven R.

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Meet Karen W.

We have installed a programmable thermostat, replaced the seals on all doors leading into the house from the outside and garage, replaced the garage door seals, added insulation into the attic and crawl space, replaced the old water heater and the old microwave, and put compact fluorescent bulbs in most of the lamps and lighting fixtures.

We participate in our city's recycling program and have a recycling bin in the office as well for paper. Our daytime thermostat is set at 68° and night-62°. Our hot water heater is set at 128°. We wash our clothes in cold water and we've added a retractable clothes line in our enclosed patio for hanging clothes. We also use a drying rack inside the house and that helps add moisture to our dry environment.

We are on a limited income so although we need a new washer/dryer, refrigerator, stove and dishwasher, but we will just have to wait until these wear out to replace them out of necessity.

I'm not sure how much we save with these measures, but we like knowing that we are trying to make it a better world for our lovely grandchildren to enjoy long after we are gone.

– Karen W.

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Meet Jana H.

We have planted over 600 trees and bushes on our property, and have a compost pile that we use to fertilize our garden. We built shutters for all of our windows which helps keep the cold out in the winter and helps keep the house cool in the summer. Every fall we check for leaks around our windows and make sure that they are caulked. We have a programmable thermostat and we have it set at 63° in the winter when we are not home. We turn off our furnace in the summer so the blower won't turn on. We wash all of our clothes in cold water. Since we live in the country, it takes a while for our water to heat up. When we need hot water from the taps, we fill up cups with the cool water and use those to fill up our pets water dishes so it is not wasted. I do all of my baking on one day so I can keep the oven at a steady temperature and not have to heat it up multiple times. We recycle everything that we can. We unplug items when we are done using them. We have switched light bulbs. We turn off lights we aren't using.

– Jana H.

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Meet Janet M.

We bought our (then 13-yr old) home 5 years ago. We immediately replaced the carpet and vinyl floors with hardwood and ceramic tile. I replaced all light bulbs with CFLs. We changed the wood burning fireplace to gas logs. The second year we purchased a new Carrier Infinity heating and air unit. This past spring we had siding, rain gutters with covers and new thermal windows installed. Needless to say, we love our home. The electric bill has been reduced by at least 30%.

– Janet M.

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Meet Debbie B.

I have spent my life protecting the environment and have taught my three children to do the same. I have always bought the most energy-efficient products when replacing old and broken items. My present home is made of local wood, inside and out and my furniture is second hand, gently used furniture. My home makes use of solar energy and thermal storage heat. I use ceiling fans in all rooms and seasons and have strategic windows for cool air in the summer. I live in Arizona and don't even have AC. The water in my home is local well water and I have filters house-wide to save on all elements in appliances that require water and so that I can use less detergent and soap. I carry my water in reusable water containers wherever I go. We only have one earth and I value it. My children use the same principles in their lives with their families. I try to be as green as possible and share helpful information with others.

– Debbie B.

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Meet Jessie

It took 20 years before I was able to get enough money to make energy saving changes. Now I use energy saving light bulbs, and this year alone I have replaced all eleven windows in my home, added new insulation and siding on house, new storm doors, and a new refrigerator. My normal energy bills are around $80.00 per month (no A/C or Central heat. My savings will be more noticeable this winter — no drafts! Next on the list is to replace the washer and dryer and get a new stove. Those are also over 20 years old, but my goal is to replace them as soon as possible. I am very concerned about the environment and hope to leave it as a better place to live for my grandchildren. Join me, it's easy.

– Jessie

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Meet Gina M.

I am the mother of five children plus I have custody of my nephew at this time so it is very important that I save every penny I can, and we do this by turning off lights (all CFLs) when we are not using them, we make sure we only wash clothes when we have full loads (and around here that is daily), we only wash our clothes in cold water, and we only turn our dishwasher on when it is completely full.

– Gina M.

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Meet Nina S.

Initially, I wanted to see if my electric bill would show a decrease by unplugging all of our appliances, but I was extremely doubtful. I was the fool, my energy bill dropped to about $10-$15 per month. I run around each morning assuring that the appliances are unplugged, heat is down, etc. My 4 1/2 year old reminds me if I forget because he's been observing my behavior now for awhile. Leading by example has helped my husband and my two boys begin to get into the "saving energy" mantra. It works and it can for your family too!

– Nina S.

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Meet Ann Marie I.

Last week we had solar panels installed on the roof to operate two attic fans and our new solar powered water heater. This summer we purchased a water barrel for collecting rain water to water the vegetable and flower gardens; and we purchased a composter to collect organic waste to use for those gardens. We have tons of trees on our property which shade us in summer and protect the house from cold winds in winter.

– Ann Marie I.

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Meet Calleen and Dave

We became volunteers for the recycling program in our county, and in 2009 we were voted the county's best recycling family. In addition to our volunteering, we have done many improvements to our 50-year old home including replacing the roof, doors, and windows with energy-efficient products. We have replaced all of our lights with CFL bulbs and we have installed a programmable thermostat. We replaced our refrigerator and washer and dryer with energy efficient models. We also chose to use recycled denim for insulation in our attic. We are always trying to find new ways to help the environment. We try to grow our own vegetables in the summer. We have 4 compost bins in the backyard for all of our compostable waste. We recently built 3 rain barrels to capture runoff to water our gardens. We try to encourage our children as well as all of our neighbors to help save the environment.

– Calleen and Dave

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Meet Tracy F.

As an owner/builder I designed and built an energy efficient home. I installed triple-pane windows coated with Argon, an instant hot water heater, programmable thermostats, passive solar heating, three foot closed eaves all around the house and garage, two inch thick insulated garage doors, and R-38 insulation. I also installed all new ENERGY STAR qualified appliances. CFLs were placed in 90% of fixtures, and all exterior house walls were sealed at the seams/joints. There are ceiling fans in five rooms to increase warm air flow in winter, and cooling effects the in summer. All plumbing penetrations to exterior were foam sealed, all windows were sealed with adhesive asphalt tape and caulked, and low water use toilets and shower heads were installed. ENERGY STAR products were used whenever possible and finally, with "Green" in mind, I installed bamboo flooring in all main living areas and cork flooring in all bedrooms.

– Tracy F.

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Meet Brian G.

I installed PV solar panels on our house, as well as installed a solar hot water system several years ago to help provide hot water to supplement our high-efficiency gas hot water heater. In addition, I installed some power-sensing power strips for our computer and entertainment system, which turns off power to all the accessories unless the main item is turned on. This eliminates vampire power. For the holidays, 90% of our lights are LED. We also have dimmers installed on nearly all of our lights.

– Brian G.

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Meet Ron Z.

At our house we are replacing a steel front entrance door with an ENERGY STAR qualified door. Most of our light bulbs are now CFLs, and all thermostats are programmable. We lower the heat settings when out or not using a room, we buy only energy-efficient appliances, have programmed timers and sensors to turn security lights on and off, the windows are double pane, and our hot water recirculation system saves water (by keeping warm water in the hot water pipes) and energy.

– Ron Z.

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Meet Kathryn H.

I upgraded to an ENERGY STAR washer and gas dryer, replaced the water heater with an energy efficient model, and replaced 1950s aluminum single-pane windows with triple-pane windows. With the windows alone, we save roughly 75% on energy utility costs a month. Servicing the gas furnace every year before the cold weather begins keeps the furnace running smoothly and costs remain nominal.

– Kathryn H.

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Meet Anika

To reduce energy costs, my husband and I first started by tearing off all the old siding on our house, then we put Tyvek (house wrap) on, followed by a 3/4" layer of insulation. Then we put on seamless steel siding. We also replaced all the windows in our house with triple-paned windows, installed all new exterior doors, replaced all light bulbs with CFLs, and make sure to change our furnace filter every three months. We also installed a new ENERGY STAR qualified furnace and central air unit. We bought an ENERGY STAR washer and refrigerator. I kept track of our gas and electric bills for one year and compared them, and I'm proud to say we saved than $600 in the first year alone.

– Anika

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Meet Jones L.

For air conditioning in the summer, we manually drive the A/C on for extended lengths of time for higher efficiency of operational use. Ceiling fans are also put in use. We dry our laundry either on the clothesline outdoors or inside the house in winter time, which also provides much wanted humidity for the dry indoor air. Our clothes drier never runs which translates into big savings! The water heater is set for 140� during extended vacations and our appliances are turned off at the breaker to squeeze out a few dollars in savings. The light bulbs have been changed to CFLs, and when not in use, simply turned off. The microwave is used whenever possible for cooking, instead of the electric stove. These are just a few of my energy saving gimmicks that all add up to huge electric bill savings!

– Jones L.

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Meet Elaine C.

In 1998 we decided to build an addition to our home, and I have now lived here since 1975 so the energy savings are very real to me. Over the years we finished the basement, added a full dormer for a second floor added a new first floor space, and removed old siding and added insulation and new siding. We replaced all old windows as well as the heating/cooling system, and we are currently replacing old appliances. We have purchased ENERGY STAR qualified appliances. We have not yet been able to tally savings but I'm sure our electric bills will go down. Thanks for giving us the tools to make our home energy efficient�we currently have a family of ten, which means lots of showers, laundry, etc.

– Elaine C.

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Meet Donald P.

We have replaced all of our bulbs with compact florescent light bulbs. We also have a programmable thermostat and change temperatures throughout the day. We've added additional insulation to our main house as well as to our garage. In our house we have replaced 5 single-pane windows with double-pane windows with blinds to keep the sunlight out.

In addition, we hang almost all of our clothes on a clothes-line to dry, even in the winter. After all of these improvements, we have been able to really cut our utility bills.

– Donald P.

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Meet Kurt J.

We set out to make the home as energy efficient as possible within a defined budget. Over the past year and a half, we have changed out all the single-pane windows for double-pane, changed all of our light bulbs to either CFLs or LEDs, replaced our appliances that were 12 years old or to ENERGY STAR qualified appliances, and replaced the faucets and showers with new generation heads to reduce the water flow. We were pleasantly surprised to find that using less water in the shower and at the bathroom sinks really made no difference in feel or performance with the proper showerheads and faucet adapters. Also, the toilets were replaced with low-flow models and we have ordered and will install in the near future a new heat pump and water heater. After we made these improvements, we saw a drop in our utility bills. We project further electricity reductions when the new heat pump and water heater are installed. Becoming conscious of how much energy was actually being used and wasted helps you to make and adapt to some very easy changes. With combined water/energy savings, all things will be much better for the future of our children and our planet.

– Kurt J.

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Meet Sheree P.

We changed almost every one of our bulbs to CFLs, including our outdoor floods, dimmer lights and other light bulbs in the house. We also unplug our flat screen TVs when they are not in use. Also, we have power strips on our desktop computer so that all components are powered down when not in use (monitor, printers). We use timers on lights that we want on when we get up and on when it gets dark so that they are only on for limited time unless needed for additional use and those light have CFL bulbs also. We have noticed a decrease in our energy consumption in doing these things. New windows and siding on our home 3 years ago has increased our energy efficiency and has saved us on our utility bill. We have done this for approximately two years.

– Sheree P.

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Meet Colleen M.

I have changed every light bulb in my house to CFLs. I purchased a new furnace and air conditioner 3 years ago and have them serviced each year to maintain their maximum efficiency. I purchased a new ENERGY STAR refrigerator and clothes washer last year. I signed up with the local utility to turn my power off during peak hours to save energy. We keep a list of needed items to purchase all at one time to save on fuel cost. We have added another 4 inches of insulation to our attic and placed new seals around all outside doors and caulked outside phone line, cable lines and dryer vent from outside air coming in. We have purchased foam insulation covers to place in all the outside wall outlets to prevent cold air from coming in and purchased 22 new energy efficient windows. To save water, we have placed a brick in the back of the toilet to use 1/3 less water with each use. We also do not let the water run while brushing teeth or washing things. We catch rain water to water outdoor plants and to top up the fish pond.

– Colleen M.

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Meet Humana

Our home needed energy efficient appliances. We were motivated by the energy efficient features most appliances offer, as well as their rebate incentives. We replaced our A/C and dishwasher (both are now energy efficient) and we are saving about $60 each month on our energy bill. We also replaced lamp bulbs with energy efficient lower watt bulbs. We do laundry once per week, either early morning or late at night. We have programmed our thermostat to run at 80 during off hours and 75 when we are home. Since we live in Florida, I purchased an energy-efficient dehumidifier to get rid of extra humidity which also helps our place keep cooler/drier while adding less stress on our AC unit.

– Humana

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Meet Bob L.

To me, saving energy is just the right thing to do. I think of it as leaving as light a footprint as possible. We've done many of the obvious things around the house: switching to CFLs, only turning on lights that we need, using a programmable thermostat, putting outside lights on motion sensors, and only doing full loads in the dish and clothes washers. But we've also invested in saving energy, too, by sealing our ducts and increasing insulation (in the attic and crawl space). We've put up insulating shades and blinds. We have both an automatic attic fan (to draw hot air out of the attic) and a whole-house ventilation fan (to reduce the need for air conditioning). We've added ceiling fans in all the bedrooms and most other rooms too. Now we've started to take a look at some smaller items, like putting phone chargers on switches so they are only drawing electricity when our phones are re-charging, and using power strips to cut off power to computers and printers when they're not in use.

– Bob L.

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Meet Adam L.

Over the past few years my family and I have worked towards reducing any waste in our home especially in terms of energy. We installed thermal replacement windows, purchased a high efficiency dishwasher and clothes washer and dryer. Almost all the light bulbs are CFLs or LEDs. Our home was already well insulated, but I made efforts to ensure that any potential air leaks were sealed. I have even begun trying to maximize solar heat in the winter by opening drapes in winter and closing white shears and drapes on warm days. Remarkably all of this has produced very little energy savings! So then I cut my electricity usage in half the past 3 months by starting thinking smarter about how I used it. I began making sure lights were turned off when not in use. I wait for a full load of dishes and laundry before washing. The biggest savings, I think, came from the clothes dryer. I started hanging clothes to dry as much as I can. In winter that also meant moisture in the air of our home. Hanging clothes reduced the number of loads and drying time. I set the washer for high spin to reduce the amount of water left in the clothes when they went to the dryer. During the winter I directed my dryer evacuation pipe into our home with a filter (pantyhose) on the end to direct warm, moist air into the home when it was most needed instead of blowing it outside. I am conscious of "phantom loads" from cell phone chargers, etc. and I try to take shorter, efficient showers to reduce the amount of electrically heated water I use. When cooking I try to be as efficient as possible. For example if I am using the oven I try to make sure all parts of the meal are prepared in the oven at the same time instead of also using the microwave or stove. All of this has reduced my electricity usage by half for the past 3 months. It isn't hard. All it takes is some forethought and thinking smarter.

– Adam L.

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Meet Jeannie C.

I have replaced ALL the light bulbs in my home with CFL bulbs, and strictly enforce turning off lights and appliances when not in use. Also, I purchased a programmable thermostat to enable a setback temp at night, and step up at night during cooling season. In addition, I have purchased a showerhead with a shutoff feature to save water while I lather up. In the near future I plan to purchase two on demand water heaters to be installed by the faucets that are the farthest away to minimize wasting water waiting for it to get hot, and this summer I am upgrading the furnace and air conditioner.

– Jeannie C.

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Meet Dawn B.

I made the following changes to my house: sealed air leaks, blew in insulation, eliminated drafts, replaced all hard wired light fixtures with LCD bulbs, and replaced electric heat with seamless wood stove. We do this to save money. We did most of the work ourselves, but used contractor expertise for insulating, which took roughly two months. We are estimating a min of $1000/year savings with insulation and heating changes.

– Dawn B.

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Meet Kathleen N.

I have Solar PV on my roof, net metered, and all my appliances are ENERGY STAR. I also installed LED flood lights in the basement, I use power strips to turn off everything I can when I'm not using the item(s) plugged in. I hang my laundry outside or on drying racks, and whenever possible run only full loads in the dishwasher. I keep the thermostat set very low overnight and during the day when I'm at work.

– Kathleen N.

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Meet James D.

Energy improvements were made to conserve and save money. All of the steps taken were inexpensive and very quick to complete. I use a programmable thermostat, purchased a new front loading washing machine (saves a tremendous amount of water), use compact fluorescent bulbs and lamps in over 95% of my lighting needs, turned down my hot water to 120 degrees F, added shades with insulating properties to all windows in my home, set the thermostat no higher than 68 degrees F in the day when at home and no higher than 62 degrees F at night during the winter, insulated the area between the top of the basement wall and the floor of the home, and sealed areas where pipes or conduit came into the home (electrical box, dryer and furnace vents etc).

– James D.

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Meet Janet C.

In the last few years we have really made an effort to make our home energy efficient. We installed photovoltaic panels in 2007 which were designed to nearly meet all of our electrical needs. We then replaced many bulbs with CFL's, replaced some exterior lighting with motion activated lights or solar lights, and use solar powered "hot wire" for horse fencing. We are careful to turn off lights when we leave the room and shut off the computer completely rather than leaving it in "stand-by" mode. By reducing our energy usage our solar panels provide 100% of our electricity and we typically have no electrical bill. Of course this has significantly reduced our carbon footprint. We have also reduced our usage of natural gas by replacing old windows with ENERGY STAR qualified products, sealing doors and windows, and using programmable thermostats. This year we will be adding insulation to the attic. With just a little effort we have not only saved money but improved the environment as well!

– Janet C.

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Meet Jonathan

My wife and I purchased our first CFL bulb for our first apartment in 1991, and it only died about two years ago! Since that time virtually every bulb in our house has been replaced with a CFL. Any appliances we have purchased for years are ENERGY STAR rated. We both drive hybrids (a Honda Civic and a Ford Escape). We replaced our old windows and heating system years ago with energy saving ones. And just this past month we had insulation added to our attic.

– Jonathan

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Meet Carol R.

We remodeled our home with a new roof, windows, central air/heat and a new ENERGY STAR refrigerator and dishwasher in the updated kitchen. I can set our thermostat to 68 (I'm so happy) and our electric bill stays about the same per month. Before we remodeled our electric bill was much higher. We had a single a/c unit in the living room for years and were miserable every summer. I'm not sure how much the appliances affected our budget but the central air, windows and roof dramatically improved our quality of life and happiness!

– Carol R.

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Meet Angie

We use CFLs, installed low flow showerheads in our showers, bought a front loading washer, and a low slow faucet in the kitchen. We installed an energy efficient furnace/air conditioner. We installed thermal shades to reduce the heat from the sun in the summer and to reduce the cool air in the winter. Instead of running the air conditioner, we open the windows. We will be planting trees and landscaping this summer. In addition to all the things we do to save energy, we recycle everything we possibly can to help protect our environment and our Earth. It's a great feeling!

– Angie

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Meet KLJ

We set out to make the home as energy efficient and cheap to operate as possible within a defined budget. We completely changed out all the single pane windows for hurricane proof windows which eliminated the need for hurricane shutters. When researching other ways to save energy, I found the best help from ENERGY STAR web pages and from researching manufacturers online. All lighting in the house is now either CFL or LED to reduce costs. All appliances were 12 years old or older and are now replaced with ENERGY STAR models. Becoming conscious of how much energy is wasted helped motivate me to make some very easy changes. Our comfort is now substantially better and our costs are down considerably.

– KLJ

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Meet Robert F.

A while back I needed to replace a water heater and a dishwasher at the same time and I decided to buy the most energy efficient models. I've also replaced almost every light bulb in the house with the florescent ones. I doubled the insulation in my attic and closed up any air gaps I could find in the house. I reduced the size of my picture window in the front of my house to almost half of what it was and installed one that had multiple panes and was eligible for an energy tax credit. I also insulated along the underside of my house inside the crawl space to reduce energy leaks there. We're currently looking at possibly replacing the patio door with something smaller.

– Robert F.

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Meet Susan H.

We started replacing light bulbs with CFLs when they first entered the market many years ago. This is the second house where we have replaced an outdated electric heating system with a heat pump. At our last house we also replaced all the windows, exterior doors, roof and added insulation in the attic and one bedroom. We are in the process of replacing windows in this home as well. All six skylights have been upgraded, along with two new sliding glass doors and a new fiberglass front door. The laundry room and kitchen appliances were replaced with ENERGY STAR appliances.

– Susan H.

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Meet Melvin

I installed attic energy barrier insulation in my house. It is a very expensive product, but since the installation, I have saved over $200.00 over two months based on what I paid last year for the same time frame. Thumbs up for new insulation.

– Melvin

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Meet Loretta R.

We began our journey to improve the energy efficiency in our home in 2007 when we purchased an ENERGY STAR qualified refrigerator and clothes washer. In 2008, we reinsulated both attics in our new home as well as the crawl space over the sunroom—none of which were fully insulated.We also installed digital programmable thermostats so we could control and set the temperature, and replaced one large air conditioning unit with an ENERGY STAR SEER rated unit.Later in 2008, a contractor hired by the state inspected our home for energy efficiency. He sealed the electrical outlets on all exterior walls, installed weather stripping in all perimeter walls, sealed all gaps in plumbing on exterior walls and sealed a breach in our HVAC ductwork. Our next goal was to replace light bulbs with CFL bulbs.All of the lights outside as well as the den, kitchen, hallways downstairs and Master Bedroom have been updated with ENERGY STAR CFLs–a total of 36 bulbs.We also replaced the 3 sets of French doors with ENERGY STAR qualified doors as well as all of the windows in the sunroom, front entry and dining room —floor to ceiling on 3 walls in the sunroom, 2 walls in the entryway and the transom above the door and one wall in the dining room.

– Loretta R.

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Meet Pamela

My husband and I did a lot of research on rebuilding our home after Hurricane Ike.We added R–19 insulation in the walls, a radiant barrier at the rafters, chose all ENERGY STAR appliances, installed CFL lighting, and installed SEER 25 mini–split A/C systems that are programmable and have zonal control. During this very hot Houston summer, our monthly electric bills were under $100 for our 2000 sq ft home.

– Pamela

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Meet David B.

In the last year we have made significant improvements to our home to update its aesthetics and to improve energy efficiency and comfort.We began by replacing our kitchen and laundry appliances with a suite of new, ENERGY STAR qualified appliances.Additionally, we replaced our gas boiler, our electric central air system and our hot water heater with new, more energy efficient models.We now keep our programmable thermostats at no more than 65 degrees in the winter. We use our air conditioning in the summer only during the hottest weeks.We have made a concerted effort to use a whole house attic fan with open windows this summer in lieu of using the air conditioning.At the same time, we replaced our old, single pane basement windows with double paned, insulted glass windows.Finally, we refinished all the exterior stucco and beams, recaulked connections between stucco, beams and windows to seal the environment and we replaced our roof and insulation.

– David B.

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Meet Wes

I recently completed a 900 sq/ft addition to my existing house.In the process, an additional layer of plywood was added to the existing with 30 pound felt tin capped down.On top of the tin cap a layer of waterproof membrane was added then 30 year dimensional shingles.The attic then received blown–in insulation.All windows were replaced with thermo–shielded impact glass.The interior lighting is now mostly compact fluorescent lighting.My next purchase is an ENERGY STAR qualified new refrigerator.

– Wes

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Meet Donna C.

We keep the temperature in our house set to 75, have the air conditioner and air vents cleaned, and have changed all of our bulbs to CFLs.

- Donna C.

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Meet Bill C.

I've changed all the lights in my house and garage to CFLs (almost 50 total including all ceiling fans). I've set my TV, cable box, and video and audio components that have a standby power mode on power strips that are turned off when not in use. It takes a while for the cable box to reboot, but I know I'm not wasting energy while the power strip is switched off. When I'm not using the computer, I always turn it off as well as turning off the router and cable modem. Recently I insulated, installed drywall, and paneled the basement. As it gets warmer outside, I adjust my programmable thermostat to lower indoor temperatures. In the summer I use a booster fan (low voltage) to help the cold air get to the second floor. We have a humidifier on the furnace for the winter months and a dehumidifier in the basement for the warmer months. Also, we have ceiling fans in six locations around the house and use those instead of air conditioning until it gets too hot, then we run them on low to circulate cold air. And lastly, we added an extra cold air return to take advantage of cooler air in the basement during the summer months.

- Bill C.

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Meet John R.

I replaced all my exterior windows last year with energy-efficient windows. I replaced the exterior doors with energy-efficient doors. I had foam insulation added and had my house sided last year. I had the furnace and air conditioner replaced with more energy-efficient models. This year I replaced three twenty-five year old toilets with water-efficient models, and replaced the dishwasher with a more water and energy efficient one. My electric bill last summer was significantly lower than in previous years, which was accomplished after upgrading the air conditioner, furnace, and windows.

This past winter, after the siding and insulation were installed and the doors were replaced, the natural gas bill never exceeded the monthly budget billing rate and the gas company had to lower the monthly amount. After changing the light bulbs and lowering my use of the furnace blower, my electric bill was lower all winter than it had ever been.

Now with the new toilets using only 1.6 gallons per flush instead of almost 4, the water and sewer bills have been reduced. With 5 people in the house that is a lot of water saved.

- John R.

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Meet Craig P.

For years my wife and I have used compact fluorescent bulbs in our house and have added insulation, new windows, and sealed air leaks.

In addition, due to the fact that we live in a hot and humid climate, we've been planting native trees in strategic locations to improve the amount of shade on our house and reduce the heat load, and thus demand on air conditioning. This has reduced our electric bill significantly.

- Craig P.

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Meet Jim

My wife and I bought a 15-year-old house in late 2007.

The first thing I did was install CFLs in all of the light sockets. We also installed ceiling fans in the bedrooms, great room, and kitchen that use CFLs. We do not use our air conditioner very much now. I replaced the thermostat with a seven day programmable one, and we set our thermostat no higher than 67 in the winter.

Next we replaced two old drafty sliding doors with new ENERGY STAR rated double pane, argon charged, low-e doors. We were so pleased with the sliding doors that we then went to the supplier and had them replace all of the windows in the house with ENERGY STAR rated vinyl double-pane windows. For the end of the year we replaced all of our old Christmas lights with all new LED ones. These projects were accomplished in 2008.

So far in 2009 we have replaced our washer and dryer with Samsung ENERGY STAR rated ones and immediately noticed a decreased water and sewer bill.

We also just purchased a Samsung French door refrigerator to replace the 15-year-old one that came with the house. My research shows that I will save approximately $50 per year by doing this.

We live in Ohio and our next big investment will be a new high-efficiency furnace and hot water tank replacement.

- Jim

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Meet Angelo A.

As an energy manager, I take energy efficiency and conservation to heart. I do my part at home as do so many of the Veteran Administration staff members within the VISN 1 Facilities I represent. I am fortunate to be part of a VISN group and team of energy managers that are committed and proactive in their approach to energy saving opportunities and projects.

For my part, I have improved my home's energy efficiency by sealing air leaks around windows and doors. I have replaced all of my incandescent bulbs with energy efficient compact florescent bulbs and I look for the ENERGY STAR logo when considering and purchasing appliances.

I have made a personal investment into energy conservation measures at home because it is the smart thing to do and because it pays back dividends. It is the right choice in support of a better future for those to come after us.

Moving forward, I hope to consider home-based renewable options and expect to work with both utility representatives and innovative manufactures and vendors. My future home improvement projects will consider energy conservation and energy efficiency measures and opportunities.

- Angelo A.

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Meet Debbie D.

All my lights are energy efficient. I installed a new air conditioning system, insulated my house, and added new energy-efficient windows to my 85-year-old home. I burn corn for heat after purchasing a corn stove which leaves no carbon footprint.

- Debbie D.

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Meet Katrina P.

We recycle all of our building materials down to the plastic bottles we drink on the job site. We ordered ENERGY STAR low-E windows and are sealing every hole and window seal. Even our HVAC is ENERGY STAR qualified as well as all of our appliances and of course all the light bulbs! I work for Home Depot and I've learned so much about saving time, money and energy and I'm taking it all the way! Thanks ENERGY STAR!

- Katrina P.

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Meet Smaragda G.

We have lived in our house for almost 20 years. Three or four years ago the appliances started failing one by one and all were replaced with new ENERGY STAR appliances. My husband had already changed any incandescent light bulbs to CFLs. In the beginning, I complained because of the price, but I am now convinced that the price was well worth it because of the savings. Last year we installed a solar water heater. It was something that I always wanted.

Our house is over 3,500 square feet. Since we changed the light bulbs and the appliances our electric bill now is $111 a month down from $164 a month. As an added bonus the water consumption is lower, because of the way the solar water heater is installed. Before in the winter I would have to waste 4-5 gallons of water, waiting for the hot water to run. The water bill is down by about $15 a month.

We expect tax return of $2,000 for the solar water heater, which for one year was interest free. When the water heater is paid in full, I will try to install panels for electricity as long as Duke Power adopts the system that already is in place in other states for reverse counting of electricity.

- Smaragda G.

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Meet Steve J.

I am an architect with a design/build firm in Greensboro, North Carolina. We are just finishing up a renovation/preservation project on a 1917 historic home property. We are planning on it being ENERGY STAR rated. We have performed a restoration of existing windows, insulation of exterior walls and selected interior walls with foam insulation, renovation of HVAC systems and crawl space, and ENERGY STAR appliances and lighting. We expect the final testing to happen at the end of this month. The home will be featured in several local magazines and newspapers as well as the tour of remodeled homes in August. We also build ALL of our new homes to ENERGY STAR standards.

- Steve J.

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Meet Lisa

In the last year we purchased ENERGY STAR light bulbs and replaced the bulbs in most of our lamps with them. We purchased a new fridge that is also ENERGY STAR qualified and has already saved us money. We also had to replace a dishwasher (also ENERGY STAR). We had to replace our heat and air, so we replaced it with the highest efficiency furnace. It only took one day to replace both units. So far we are seeing savings of half of what we paid last year, and the temperatures were about the same. In addition, we shop with cloth bags to reduce the plastic bags. We are trying to do our best to green up our earth. This spring we plan on planting trees to replace the trees we lost in a storm this past summer.

- Lisa

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Meet Krista D.

In the summer of 2005, our family bought a home that dates back to 1885. We have always wanted to buy an old home and renovate rather than create a new footprint. The house is an old Victorian and many of the rooms have multiple entrances. The roof needed replacing, the floor had holes, all 38 windows needed upgrading (some were the originals!), the electrical wiring was the old "penny in the box" type, and every door had a two inch space (at least) between the door and transom. The walls are mostly plaster, and some of them were in desperate need of repair.

Since our arrival, 29 of the windows have been replaced and covered with light-allowing material. The roof (including plywood) has been replaced, and the two chimneys have been taken down to below roof-line. All holes in the floor have been repaired. In fact, our entire kitchen floor was replaced down to the beams. Most of the wiring has been replaced�a few lines to the attic have temporarily been wired to a new circuit breaker box until the walls can be accessed. New transoms and some adjustments to our exterior doors have lessened the gaps below them.

Most of the walls have been repaired and painted or trimmed with light reflecting paint. Lastly, many of the light bulbs have been replaced with newer fluorescent bulbs. During these renovations, my husband tried to re-claim as much of the original material as possible�even some of the original nails! A lot of caulk has helped to seal air leaks, and we purchased all new, energy-efficient appliances for the kitchen. One of the most dramatic changes was that our ceilings had been lowered with a drop-type ceiling. We opened that up, which allowed the heat in the lower floor to rise through the original vents in the floors above. This was so efficient that we did not install furnace vents to the upper levels.

Our power bills from November through March have gone from approx. $5,000 to $1,700 (gas and electric). We sought advice from several sources, some professionals, but mostly on Web sites. The local electric company (BGE) has a great one. Most of this work we did ourselves. We still need to tackle the remaining windows, electric lines, root cellar/crawl space, and upgrade the plumbing. With still much to do, we look forward to improving our energy usage and leaving a much smaller footprint in the future. Good luck to all who are in similar boats!

- Krista D.

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Meet Alice L.

We own a bungalow in Northern California, which are notorious for being beautiful but very drafty and damp year round. It was important to us to not only reduce our greenhouse gas emissions from energy use, but to also have a home that is warm and comfortable, dry and mold-free, with good indoor air quality, free of carbon monoxide from our gas appliances.

We began by insulating our attic beyond the building code minimums, up to R-42. The difference in heat retention was dramatic and immediately noticeable. But, there were still drafts along the floor that needed to be addressed.

We moved all the furniture away from the walls, and used a water-based clear caulk at the top edge and bottom edge of the wooden baseboard, sealing all the tiny cracks from drafts. We inserted foam outlet and light switch seals in all the rooms as well, and paid special attention to the fireplace, where we filled the chimney with insulation, and sealed it off permanently with sheetrock and a metal plate. We then installed a fireplace candelabra that holds six pillar candles, which, when burned actually warm the house instead of sending all the heat up the flue.

We used spray-foam insulation underneath the bathtub, drilling 1/4" holes around the perimeter and down the center, and filling the cavity with expanding foam to keep the tub warmer, and cut down the noise when filling the tub with water.

We used the expanding spray foam insulation around the perimeter of the house in the crawl space, to eliminate air from infiltrating the wall cavity and carrying mold spores up into the house. Then we used R-23 encapsulated fiberglass to insulate the floor, sealing any plumbing or telephone and cable penetrations as we went. We were careful not to block off the fresh air vent to the water heater.

Finally, we borrowed a thermal imaging camera, located all the wall studs in the exterior walls, and drilled 3" diameter holes at the top and bottom of the cavities between the studs, taking care to note any diagonal bracing, and drilling above or below any fireblocking. This took three days.

We then went to our local building supply store, purchased about 20 bales of cellulose insulation and rented their mechanical blower and hoses and dense-packed insulation into all the walls, using the thermal imaging camera to ensure that all the cavities were filled from bottom to top. Any remaining insulation was blown into the attic to increase the heat retention. We then made our own plugs from a sheet of 2" rigid foam insulation to plug the holes, and patched them over with drywall mud and re-painted the walls with non-VOC paints.

While not every homeowner may be able to do this, we found it a satisfying project. Our floors are now warm and dry, and we no longer experience the smell of mold after a rainstorm, or when sitting next to an outlet or in our closets. Our clothes no longer rust on the metal hangers.

We did not need to replace windows, but are intending to install historic-looking exterior storm windows, the type that hang on the outside and latch at the bottom of the frame on the inside. These will further provide air sealing and reduce outside noise. This will also allow us to open them in the summer for fresh air.

- Alice L.

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Meet Jean L.

I bought a little house last fall, and am having a sunroom added to the back of it. It faces east and now encloses the sliding glass door, which will make it much more weather tight. The window installer made sure to tape around the windows with weather sealant to stop the drafts from getting to an interior caulk line of defense. He also discovered hidden damage and gaps in the insulation of the existing wall where pipes had burst under previous ownership, so that was repaired, and as a bonus, the kitchen and bathroom will no longer be drafty! The ceiling fan will use chandelier-based CFL bulbs, outdoor flood lights will be on a timer, and a storm door will be added to the front entrance. My contractor also had the crew recycle the old decking boards to build rafters and steps, so we've reduced the cost and landfill waste. The project is taking about 3 weeks, and I'm looking forward to my utility bill staying the same as last year, despite the increased cost of natural gas.

- Jean L.

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Meet Jean B.

We changed all of our indoor lighting to compact fluorescent lighting, installed new low-e vinyl windows, and set the programmable thermostat at 66 degrees. Also, we've sealed air leaks around doors, and bought a new ENERGY STAR qualified flat screen television and refrigerator.

- Jean B.

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Meet Doris W.

We bought a home that used to be a trailer last summer. Last winter we could literally feel the cold air entering our house through the floors and walls and windows. This summer my husband pulled up the floors that he could not crawl under and insulated them. He also added insulation to the walls. We went from 1 1/2 inches of insulation to 4 inches. He also changed our windows to ENERGY STAR qualified ones. We put in CFL light bulbs. My husband is working his way around the house in order to make it more energy efficient. There are plenty of improvements to come and I will try to keep the story going.

- Doris W.

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Meet Jim V.

At my Mom's house I installed insulation in the attic (the house is 100+ years old, a 2 1/2 story colonial), and the gas usage was cut by about 30%. I also wrapped the exposed pipes in the basement, and installed electrical outlet and switch insulation gaskets. These efforts yielded an additional 10% decrease in natural gas usage. I have also replaced light fixtures and bulbs as needed, to CFLs. In my present house (a 50 yr old ranch), I have replaced incandescent work lights in the basement with fluorescent tubes (also to comply with current building codes). I have installed a ceiling fan in an insulated sunroom which had been an open screen porch. I also installed programmable thermostats. All 19 windows have been replaced this season, as well as two energy-efficient exterior doors. My refrigerator and dishwasher are both ENERGY STAR qualified, as are our computers. Lastly, I added weatherstripping at the bottom of the basement door to seal out drafts.

- Jim V.

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