I don't know about you, but my air conditioner sure got a workout this summer!

At some point when I was a kid, our air conditioner broke and for whatever reason, my dad refused to get it fixed until one unbelievably rainy and humid summer where we couldn't open the windows often.  Having survived that ordeal, I'm someone who won't turn on the air conditioning until I'm dripping with sweat in my own home. My husband? He's the total opposite. As soon as the temps outside hit 85, he feels the need to turn our three-bedroom apartment into an igloo.

Now that cooler weather has arrived, I'm looking to save energy and lower my bill whatever way possible. Which is why the Smart-saver Pledge card that came with our last power bill grabbed my eye! This fall Idaho Power is trying to teach the Treasure Valley that energy saving techniques can actually become a habit in just 21 short days. They say if you commit to following through with one of the following energy-saving activities for the length of the pledge, you'll not only reduce your power bill but also be in to win a brand-new ENERGY STAR® electric refrigerator, freezer, washer and dryer set, dishwasher, oven, range, stove, microwave or TV to help make your home even more energy efficient! The pledge levels are super easy.

1) Change the porch light to an LED or add a sensor

According the US Department of Energy, if you're using a 60W traditional incandescent bulb you'll get 1000 hours of use out of that porch light. Even if you only have it on for six hours a night, you'll be replacing the bulb every 167 days. With a 12W LED light, you get 25,000 hours of use and might not have to replace that bulb for 11.5 years! In the long run, that'll save you almost 80% of the money you'd spend on incandescent bulbs!

2) Use a programmable pressure cooker once a week instead of the oven or stove

Yes, Idaho Power basically just gave you permission to buy that Instant Pot you had your eye on! Because electric pressure cookers reduce the amount of time it takes to cook a meal, it's also reducing the amount of time you're using a power source (like an electric oven!) According to Money Crashers, cooking just one meal a week in your Instant Pot would result in about $26.42 in energy savings over one year (based on a national average.)  That's pretty rad!

3) Hang-dry clothes after washing

According to the The Simple Dollar, it costs about $.36 in energy costs per load of laundry you put through a 45-minute dryer cycle. The average American family does at least 6 loads of laundry per week. Assuming you already have a clothes line to hang your laundry on, you could potentially save $112+ a year by saying goodbye to the dryer.

4) Unplug a cell phone charger when not in use

According to InHabitat's "tech geek" cell phone chargers still pull power even when they're not plugged into a device.  Even though they don't use a lot of watts, it could still save you 10-15 cents a month by unplugging chargers when you're not using them.

5) Use kitchen and bath exhaust fans only when needed

I'm horrible about this one.  My dad always taught my sister and I to turn on the bathroom fan after we took a shower to help dry out all the condensation we created so that the bathroom tile didn't get all mildew-y. I still do that today and as my husband so nicely pointed out, I never turn it off before I leave for work. According to Networx, you really only need to run those for about 25-30 minutes after a shower for them to be effective.  All those extra hours between when I get out of the shower and when he eventually gets up to turn it off are just wasting energy.

Certainly, ONE of those is easy enough to pull off for 21 days, right? Then sign-up for the pledge, save some money and possibly win a new ENERGY STAR electric appliance!


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