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A BIT OF YOUR CONCERTED ENERGY CAN CUT ENERGY COSTS HUGELY

SHARE A BIT OF YOUR CONCERTED ENERGY CAN CUT ENERGY COSTS HUGELY

In spite of its title, the new book from the Rocky Mountain Institute, "Homemade Money," isn't about how to set up your own underground counterfeiting press. Instead, it's about saving as much as 30 percent on your energy costs.

For a typical family, this would amount to several hundred dollars every year."Homemade Money" provides a menu of cost-effective things you can do to make your home use less energy and water. There are tips for homeowners, renters and mobile homeowners, and you don't have to be a rocket scientist to carry them out.

As Rick Heede, one of the book's authors, says, "Some projects require just a phone call, some will send you to the hardware store and others will induce you to put on the overalls, take the phone off the hook and unholster the caulk gun."

To give yourself a feel for the kinds of savings you can achieve using the book's suggestions, first find out how efficiently you are using energy right now. To do this, Heede says, you'll need to collect your fuel and electric bills for the last 12 months and total them.

First divide the total of all these bills by the square footage of your home. For the purposes of this calculation, don't include garages and unheated basements. When you've made the calculation, you'll know your energy costs per square foot.

If you're paying 90 cents per square foot, you're at the national average. By comparison, the Rocky Mountain Institute pays less than 10 cents per square foot.

Let's suppose that you've calculated what you're paying for energy and that it's too high. You really would like to get these costs down. Where would you begin?

"The answer is simple," Heede answers. "Do the easiest, most cost-effective measures first."

Fortunately, some of the easiest projects are the very ones that will make the biggest dent in your energy and water bills. The book's suggestions are listed in order, with the projects that cost the least and that will cut your bills the most listed first.

Here are the first 10:

- Turn your water heater thermostat down to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

- Turn off lights when leaving a room.

- Set thermostats to 68 degrees in winter when you're home and down to 55 degrees when you go to bed or when you're away.

- Use energy-saving settings on washing machines, clothes dryers, dishwashers and refrigerators.

- Wash clothes in cold water and only in full loads.

- Don't waste water, hot or cold, inside or outside your home.

- Clean your refrigerator's condenser coils once a year.

- Air dry your clothes.

- Close heating vents in unused rooms.

- Repair leaky faucets and toilets (5 percent of water "use" is leakage).

"After you've done these things," says Heede, "you'll see lower energy and water bills. You'll also have the satisfaction of knowing that you've helped the environment by reducing pollution.

"You're probably going to have fun doing them, too. And," he adds, "once you have succeeded in your projects, tell your neighbors!"

"Homemade Money" is available for $14.95 plus $3.50 postage and handling, from: SH Publications, Rocky Mountain Institute, 1739 Snowmass Creek Road, Snowmass, CO. 81654-9199. You can also order by credit card. The phone number there is: 970-927-3851.