5 On Your Side

Put Money in Your Pocket, Not the Utility Company's

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Want to save on energy costs?

Start in the laundry room. Heating water accounts for 90 percent of the energy used by a washing machine. Wash your clothes in cold water and save as much as 30 percent.

Don't over-dry your laundry. You won't need to iron as much, and your clothes will hold up better if you take them out of the dryer while they're still a little damp.

Another money-saver is at the thermostat, provided you don't have a heat pump. Adjust it before you go to sleep or leave the house.

"For every degree that you lower your thermostat in the winter, or raise it in the summer, you'll save about 3 percent on your energy costs," said Consumer Reports' Jim Nanni.

If you have a heat pump, it's more energy-efficient to leave the thermostat in one place.

Before central heating and air conditioning, there were blinds and windows. This time of year, open those blinds to let the sun help heat your home.

Setting the water heater to the "low" setting, or 120 degrees, means you'll spend less for hot water.

Even your computer can help you save. If you keep it on "standby" mode instead of leaving it on day and night, the computer will use 80 percent less electricity.

You can save in the kitchen, too.

"Instead of rinsing your dishes, let the dishwasher do the work. You'll save about 20 gallons of water, as well as the energy needed to heat that water," Nanni said.

Opt for the microwave when re-heating your food. You could use as much as 80 percent less energy than it would take to use the oven for that job.

When you use your stove, pick a pan that's roughly the same size as the element or burner. You'll use much less energy than you would with a mis-matched burner and pan.

And pull out the crock pot. Slow cooking in a crock pot uses a lot less energy than simmering on the stove.

Consumer Reports has this information and more available free on its Web site.

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