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What are the most effective things I can do to reduce the amount of energy I use?

A new study from researchers at Columbia found that a lot of people are pretty confused about the actions they can take to save energy. When asked, many people guessed that turning off lights was the most effective change they could make.

Nope. Wrong. According to researchers Gerald Gardner and Paul Stern, turning off an incandescent bulb (that you used to leave on overnight) saves about 0.5% of your total energy use.

Lots of other actions can yield more significant energy savings.

Gardner and Stern came up with a list of the best ways individuals can reduce energy consumption and curb climate change. You can check it out here.

Some interesting tid-bits:

Replacing 85% of incandescent bulbs with compact florescent bulbs would save 4% of individual energy consumption.

Buying a more fuel-efficient car (30.7 MPG vs. 20 MPG) could save as much as 13.5%.

Carpooling to work with one other person would save up to 4.2%.

Watching 25% less TV each day will save 0.6% of energy use.

Replacing your plasma TV with a projection TV will save 1.3%.

Washing your clothes in warm and cold water (instead of hot and warm water) will save 1.2%.

Line-drying instead of machine drying clothes 5 months of the year saves 1.1%.

Photo credit: Flickr user B Tal.

About the author

Adriene Hill is a senior multimedia reporter for the Marketplace sustainability desk, with a focus on consumer issues and the individual relationship to sustainability and the environment.
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