New Year’s offers us the opportunity to start anew with resolutions that will improve ourselves and our lives. In 2019, consider resolving to become more energy efficient by making a few easy lifestyle changes. You’ll be kinder and gentler to our environment and save some money, too.

Here are a few simple low or no-cost ways that you and your family can get started on the path to a greener lifestyle in the new year.

Install a smart thermostat. Smart thermostats cost less than $150, but they’ll pay for themselves in about a year and you’ll continue to save year after year. TEP offers a rebate on NEST thermostats, which automatically adjust the temperature to your preferences and schedule. This can reduce your overall cooling and heating costs.

“One word of caution: If you install a smart thermostat and are on a time-of-use or demand-based pricing plan, make sure your settings minimize energy use during on-peak times,” says Francisco Castro, Manager of Residential Energy Efficiency Programs & Services for Tucson Electric Power. “You may have to manually adjust your schedule.”

Use LED bulbs for your interior and exterior lighting. This measure will pay you dividends in energy and cost savings for many years to come. That’s because LED bulbs use up to 90 percent less energy and last up to 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs. They also emit 90 percent less heat, so cooling a room lit with LEDs uses less energy. Over the course of its lifetime, each LED bulb will save an average of $80 in energy costs.

“Another great benefit of LEDs,” says Castro, “is that they attract fewer insects when used outdoors because their heat and ultraviolet levels are very low.”

A wide variety of LED bulbs are now available for just about any indoor or outdoor application, and many are offered at local retailers for discounted prices through TEP’s ENERGY STAR® Lighting program.

Replace HVAC filters regularly and have an annual tune-up. Two sure ways to get the greatest efficiency from your cooling and heating system is to make sure you change air filters regularly – usually several times a year – and get an annual tune-up. Rebates are offered for AC tune-ups through TEP’s Efficient Home Program.

Weatherize your home. With a little bit of caulking and weather-stripping, you can seal up air leaks and cracks around doors and windows to reduce cooling and heating costs by up to 20 percent.

Use smart power strips. Homes can have up to 70 electrical outlets, many of which have something plugged into them. Many of today’s electronics draw “phantom energy” even when they’re turned off but are plugged in. To reduce this energy waste, plug your home media devices that are the largest energy hogs – such as your set-top box, DVR and gaming system – into a single smart power strip that you can turn off.

Reduce your hot water use. Your water heater accounts for about 10 percent of your home’s energy use. Heated water is used for bathing, hand washing, dishwashing and laundry. These energy costs can add up over time. You can easily reduce water heating energy use and costs by using the cold water setting on your clothes washer and installing low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators.

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