Energy Survey

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.

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 have to tug to get it out, that means the door seals are working properly.

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.

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

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.

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.

Again, with the help of an adult, check the temperature of your home's hot water. You can do this at the kitchen sink. Let the water run until it gets hot. Fill a glass with the hot water and put a thermometer in it to see how hot the water is. (Make sure it is a thermometer made for measuring high temperatures, not the kind for taking people's temperature.) Most homes can get by with the water heater set to provide 120°F water. If your hot water is hotter than 120°F, check with your parents about turning the water heater's setting down to the lowest temperature that will still provide sufficient hot water.

9.Check each sink in your home to see if there are any leaks. While every leak is bad because it wastes precious water, hot water leaks are especially bad because they waste water and the energy used to make it warm. Alert an adult to any leaks you find so they can arrange to fix them.

10 drips per minute x 1,440 minutes per day
= 14,400 drips
or nearly a gallon! Now we are talking serious water.

If you have a fireplace in your home, ask an adult to check whether the damper is open or closed. If it is open while the heating or cooling system is on, it lets expensive heated or cooled air escape up the chimney.

11. If your home has ceiling fans, make sure they are turned off when no one is in the room. Fans running when no one is there do no good at all. As a matter of fact, they actually warm the room because the fan motor gives off heat as it operates. Fans only make you feel cool by blowing air across your skin. So when no one is there to appreciate the moving air, make sure they are turned off.

Take a close look at your home's windows. Are they single panes of glass, or can you see two glass panes? Some homes in very cold climates even have three panes of glass to reduce heat loss out the windows. If your home has only a single pane, you may be able to save on heating and cooling bills by adding storm windows.

In the winter, keep the windows covered with drapes or blinds to reduce the amount of heat flowing out through them. These window coverings add insulation to the glass and make it harder for your home's heat to escape. If the windows face south, east or west, open the curtains when the sun shines through the windows. Sun shining in through windows is essentially free heat. Windows that face north don't get direct sunlight, so keeping them covered as much as possible in the winter makes sense.

14. While you are looking at your home's windows, see if there there is a way to shade them or keep the sunlight out during the cooling season. Are there awnings on the outside or drapes or blinds on the inside that can be used to block the sun?

Do a quick walk through of your home to see if there are appliances turned on that are not being used, such as a TV that nobody is watching or lights in an empty room.

So, how'd you do? If you completed 10 or more of the items on this Energy Survey, you're a real energy trooper!

Click on the picture below to download your Energy Super Saver Certificate.