1) Create a Microsoft Hohm account and start learning ways to reduce energy use around the house.
2) Recycle electronics properly. United States residents can visit the Environmental Protection Agency Web site to learn where they can dispose of unwanted PCs and other electronics.
3) Install a programmable thermostat. The U.S. Department of Energy says you can reduce heating costs by as much as 10 percent by turning the heat down 10-15 degrees at night. A programmable thermostat makes it easy to ensure the heat goes off at bedtime, yet comes back on in time for morning coffee. And they cost as little as $20.
4) Review energy settings on Windows 7. Check Power Options in the Control Panel in Windows 7 to ensure your Sleep feature is turned on and that other settings maximize your energy efficiency.
5) Look for ENERGY STAR-rated PCs: Choose an ENERGY STAR-compliant computer the next time you’re in the market for a new PC. Look for the ENERGY STAR label or visit the online product catalog to browse for an efficient PC. A new ENERGY STAR-compliant PC or laptop uses 15 to 25 percent less energy on average than a standard new computer.
6) Buy a laptop instead of a desktop PC. Some of the latest laptop PCs use as little as 20 watts of power to operate, the same amount as a CFL light bulb (see below).
7) Purchase a smart power strip. In the average home, as much as 75 percent of electricity consumption goes to devices the user thinks is “off.” To reduce these “phantom loads,” a smart power strip can detect when PCs, televisions and other electronics are not in use, and automatically power down those devices. The power strips even know to turn off printers or other peripherals if a PC is off. Around $30.
8) Use compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). CFLs, used in in place of comparable incandescent bulbs, save about 50 percent on lighting costs. CFLs use only one-fourth the energy and last up to 10 times longer.
9) Bike to work. Hop on a bike and pedal to work once a week. May is National Bike Month, and National Bike to Work Week (May 17-21) is a great time to learn how to bike-commute safely and efficiently
10) Work from home. Unified communications technology like instant messaging, e-mail and telepresence can help prevent unnecessary travel. The World Wildlife Fund estimates that increasing telecommuting and virtual meetings could help to save more than 3 billion metric tons of CO2 emissions in a few decades; this is the equivalent to approximately half the current U.S. CO2 emissions.