Step 10: Use “Negawatts”

Nice: saving money. Nicer: saving the planet

Upfront Cost $9 for a high-quality bulb
Payoff A 66-percent reduction in lighting-energy consumption
Your Plan The economics of replacing old bulbs with the new smaller, brighter, compact fluorescents are impressive: Assuming you pay the national average of 9.78 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity, a compact fluorescent will save you $50 in electricity over its seven-year lifetime. That´s $1,250 for a 25-bulb house. If you multiply this savings by all 25 lightbulbs in the average house, you´ve just put $2,125 in your pocket.

Back in the 1970s, efficiency was about turning out the lights. Today, says Paul Scheckel, author of The Home Energy Diet, “it’s about taking advantage of technology to do the same things better.” Largely as a result of technological advances, the U.S. now uses 47 percent less energy per dollar of economic output than it did 30 years ago. Unfortunately, because of supply-side inefficiences, a lot of the energy we make is wasted by the time it reaches our homes and offices. Consumers can’t do much about that, but it’s easy to make an effort at home-and to see it pay off in lower bills. “I call it â€negawatts,’ ” says Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute. “There’s no cheaper or cleaner power than the power you don’t produce.”