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Natural Awakenings Washington DC Metro

Manage Your Carbon Footprint and Cut Your Home Energy Bills

Jul 24, 2013 03:30AM

Each month the District welcomes approximately 1,000 new residents. With a steady growth in population comes a steady increase in energy consumption—but what is being done to keep energy costs low and to manage the city’s carbon footprint? In the District, organizations such as the DC Sustainable Energy Utility (DC SEU) are helping local residents and businesses save energy and reduce their utility bills. 

Saving energy and money at home can be as simple as updating your lighting and appliances. A great first step towards reducing your at-home energy use is to replace traditional, incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient, compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) or light-emitting diodes (LEDs). CFL and LED bulbs are 75% more energy efficient than incandescents, last longer and save an average of $5 or more per bulb each year. 

When it comes to larger appliances, newer models of refrigerators and clothes washers use 50% less energy than their older counterparts and can significantly reduce your energy bills. If your refrigerator is more than 10 years old or does not have an ENERGY STAR® label, it’s time to consider upgrading this energy-intensive appliance. ENERGY STAR® clothes washers save you energy and water by using only 18 to 25 gallons of water for a full-sized load compared to 40 gallons for standard washers. 

Small, no cost changes can also make a difference towards saving energy at home and reducing your carbon footprint. Electronics continue to use energy even when they are in “off” or “standby” mode. This is called “standby power” and can be prevented by unplugging your electronics when they are not in use. Doing so can save you up to $10 a month on your utility bill and will offset your carbon emissions by about 1,000 pounds of CO2 per year. Regardless of the model, you can also reduce the amount of energy your refrigerator and freezer use. Keep the temperature inside your refrigerator between 35 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit and position it away from any heat sources, such as an oven, a dishwasher, or direct sunlight. When it comes to clothes washers and dishwashers, the majority of their energy use is dedicated to heating water. Washing two full loads a week in warm or cold water, as opposed to hot, will reduce carbon emissions by about 500 pounds of greenhouse gasses per year—that’s equivalent to planting 21 trees. When using your dishwasher, avoid the heat-dry, rinse-hold, and pre-rinse features and instead opt to use the air-dry setting. 

You can support local businesses and upgrade your lighting and appliances for less with the DC SEU. Over 50 District retailers, including neighborhood hardware stores and markets, currently offer reduced-price CFLs and LEDs. In addition, the DC SEU offers $50 rebates on ENERGY STAR® qualified refrigerators and clothes washers and larger rebates on ENERGY STAR® water heaters that can cut water heating costs in half. 


For more information, call toll-free at 855-MY-DCSEU or visit to learn more and start saving energy today.


Anissa Najm is a communications and marketing Intern at the DC SEU, where she has been aiding in public relations, participating in community events and gaining experience in the field of sustainability since graduating from GW this spring. Hanna Grene is head of public relations at the DC SEU. For media inquiries, please contact [email protected]

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