Ceiling fans are efficient, stylish and more powerful than ever

Ceiling fans are efficient, stylish and more powerful than ever.

1. Ceiling fans are not only decorative, but they create a wind-chill effect that helps you keep cool while using only as much energy as a 100-watt bulb. They are efficient, stylish and more powerful than ever. Go traditional, contemporary or even Mission or Art Deco ... there are choices for all tastes. Your energy savings? You can reduce your energy use by 40 to 60 percent. (Source: Energy Efficiency for a Green Los Angeles)

2 If you are using an air conditioner, make sure the unit is in a shaded spot on your houses north or east sides. Direct sun on the unit decreases efficiency. If your unit is in the sun, try planting trees or shrubs to shade it. A shaded air conditioner uses 10 percent less electricity than one in the sun. Dont forget to clean and replace your filters! A clean filter can lower energy consumption up to 15 percent. (Source: Energy Efficiency for a Green Los Angeles)

3. It's as good excuse as any to get a new refrigerator. New models today can be such energy misers that they use the same amount of power as a 75-watt bulb. (Source: Seattle City Light) Look for the Energy Star label for energy efficient appliances. Another tip: Make sure your refrigerator and freezer are sealed tight. Replace your gaskets if you can easily slide out a dollar bill when you close your door on it.

4. Consider plantation shutters on your windows. You can control the airflow at the same time as blocking out the suns harsh rays. Insulating shutters are a very expensive form of window treatment, but may reduce heat exchange by as much as 80 percent. (Source: Alliance to Save Energy)

5. Because windows let in nearly 40 percent of the unwanted heat in an apartment or house, you might install high-performance windows or glass coatings. (Source: Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Clearinghouse) These sun-control films reduce heat and glare, but they also reduce light. Its the same concept as tinting your cars windows. Another option is double-pane thermal glass, which provides extra insulation from the sun all year.

6. On the horizon are "smart windows" using Research Frontiers SPD technology. With these windows in your home, youll be able to instantly adjust your windows from clear to dark and all levels in between, even eliminating the need for window treatments.

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The right kind of window treatment can help you save 40 percent or more on your electricity bill.
Photo courtesy of Hunter-Douglas.

7. The right kind of window treatments can help you save 40 percent or more on your electricity bill. (Source: Alliance to Save Energy) Honeycomb shades, or cellular shades, act as insulators, trapping heat. Sold in single, double and triple-layer pleats, they are also available with reflective coatings that block light. And honeycomb shades are elegant, too. Try "Duette" honeycomb shades from Hunter-Douglas or Symphony Shades, a Vermont company that specializes in energy efficient window treatments.

8. Go outside and see where you can add shade. Install awnings over your windows, build a pergola covered with shade cloth or plant trees. Outside shading is more efficient than indoor shading.

;9. Love your waterbed? A heated waterbed can use as much energy as a large refrigerator. (Source: Seattle City Light) Keep your energy costs down with an insulated bed pad. And make sure you make it every morning to keep the heat inside the bed, not outside.

10. Switch from cotton sheets to a linen set. Linen will keep you cooler, decreasing your need for an air conditioner or fan.