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Trim energy use at home and save

Still stalling on going green? Procrastinate no longer. These ideas for saving energy around your home are cheap, involve little or no installation and will barely make a bump in your routine.

• Buy compact fluorescent bulbs. They no longer buzz, flicker or turn faces blue — and they approximate the glow of incandescent bulbs while using 75 percent less energy.

If every U.S. household replaced just one incandescent bulb with a compact fluorescent, the emissions savings from reducing the amount of electricity generated would be equivalent to taking three million cars off the road for a year.

Don't let the price of CFLs — as much as $7 each — turn you off. The lights not only last 10 times longer than incandescents but also save up to $60 in electricity per light over their lifetime. Some utility companies subsidize the energy-sparing lights, reducing the tab to $2 or so.

Most compact fluorescents are spirals or U-shape tubes, but you can also find them in bulb form. Some of the newer lights adjust to three levels or work with a dimming switch.

• Pull the plug on energy-draining devices. Appliances that include a clock or operate by a remote, as well as chargers, "are all sucking electricity even when you're not using them," said Dale Bryk of the National Resources Defense Council.

Of the total energy used to run home electronics, 40 percent is consumed when the appliances are turned off.

The obvious way to pull the plug on so-called energy vampires is to do just that — pull the plug. But if you don't want to keep rebooting your PC, you can reduce the juice to it by putting both the monitor and the computer itself in sleep mode when they're not in use.

To get yours to nod off, go to the control panel, where you will likely see "sleep" or "hibernate." The sleep mode powers down the computer, whereas instructing it to "hibernate" effectively turns the PC off while preserving your applications. Both modes let you resume work where you left off.

If your computer powers down by default, you can shorten how long it waits before going to sleep or set the monitor to power down first. Don't bother using a screen saver, which neither preserves your screen nor saves energy.

To get all your devices on the same nap schedule, plug them into the Smart Strip Power Strip ($31 to $44, at www.smarthomeusa.com). The strip senses when your computer or TV is asleep and electronically unplugs devices that depend on it until the controlling device wakes up.