Energy Survey

1. Decide what you need from the refrigerator before opening the door. This saves energy by keeping the amount of time the door is open as short as possible.

2. Check to see if your refrigerator door seals properly. Get a slip of paper, or even a dollar bill. Close the door on the paper and then see if you can pull it out easily. If it comes right out, your door may need new seals, or the refrigerator may need to be replaced. If it sticks snugly in place and you must tug to get it out, that means the door seals are working properly. (image below)

3. Keep doors to the outside closed when the heating or air conditioning is on. Each time you open a door while the heating or cooling system is operating, a lot of expensive heated or cooled air escapes. That's why it helps to close them quickly when you come in or go out of the house.

4. Check to see if energy-efficient LEDs (light emitting diodes) or compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) bulbs will fit in your home's lighting fixtures. Count how many places in your home will take these types of light bulbs, and then ask your parents if you can start replacing their old incandescent light bulbs with new LEDs or CFLs. They cost more to purchase, but you get the money back quickly. LED lamps use about one-sixth as much energy as incandescent light bulbs and can last up to 50 times longer, which makes them a good investment. CFL lamps only use one-quarter as much energy as incandescent light bulbs and can last up to 10 times longer.

5. Ask an adult how often your home's air filters are changed. They are usually located in the heating or cooling unit, but are sometimes in a register at the end of an air duct. If your home has central air conditioning, they should be changed or cleaned once a month or as needed.

6. Learn where in your home the thermostat is located, and check the temperature setting with the help of an adult. In the winter, the thermostat should be set at the lowest temperature that keeps the house comfortable. Many recommend trying to keep it at 68°F or lower. In the summer, it should be set at the highest comfortable setting. Try for 78°F while you are home and set it higher or turn it off when gone for the day.

7. With the help of a parent, find your home's water heater. Then have your parent place his or her hand on the water heater's side. Is it warm to the touch? If it is, it is losing heat that should stay in your home's hot water. Ask your parents about installing an insulating blanket around the tank, or installing a tankless system to help save even more energy.