Reducing your energy usage at home is not only the smart thing to do, it’s the most considerate thing you can do for yourself, neighbors, friends, the community and your country. This is not just because cutting down on the amount of energy you use will save you money, it’s also the most environmentally responsible thing to do.

On a global scale, it’ll help reduce carbon dioxide emission and contribute to slowing down the increasingly alarming rate of global warming. In your immediate environment, it’ll result in cleaner air, less exposure to radiation, better health for the kids and a cooler home. So, if you have decided to join the already environmentally conscious, congratulations! Here is how to begin:

Insulation is the first step to keeping your house at a constant temperature efficiently. Be sure to insulate the walls using injected foam insulation. Check for leaking ducts and attic leakage to keep cool air, energy, and money from flying out the window. Also, always keep all windows and doors tightly closed when your AC is on. Another way you can protect your house from excessive heat or cold is by using drapes, shades, and curtains.

Properly using and maintaining your air conditioning unit will also save energy. Give your AC a tune-up once every two months and change the filters once a month. This reduces strain on your unit, ensures its functioning at peak performance, and allows it to consume less energy. Your AC should also have a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) of 15 for maximum efficiency all year round. Keeping the thermostat at 77 or 78 will also keep energy usage down.

Lastly, utilizing ceiling fans properly can save a ton of energy. In the summer set the to rotate counter-clockwise and the opposite in winter. This ensures good air circulation while keeping temperatures comfortable. Turning the fans off while out of the room is also key.

We’ve all hear it before, but turning off lights when you leave a room can save an enormous amount of energy. Utilizing natural lighting with windows and skylights not only improves the mood of a room but reduces the need to turn on the lights during the day. Choosing energy efficent lightbulbs like CFLs over incandescent is another environmentally conscious step.

Instead of warming leftovers with the oven, use the microwave. If you have a second fridge that you’re not really using, turn it off as soon as it’s cooled down. Use the power-save switch on your fridge. If your freezer is empty, now might be a good time to fill it up because it typically consumes less energy when full than when empty. Talk about a paradox, huh?

Be sure to wash your clothes using cold water and periodically have a look at the pipes to see if there are any leakages. If you’re doing a load of laundry, do multiple loads at once. That way, the dryer doesn’t have to heat up again after the last load is done. Separate light fabrics and heavy fabrics and dry them separately. Have your bath  with cold water instead of hot water. Not only does this result in savings for you, it’s one of the proven ways to hack your body for maximum efficiency and productivity during the day.

An environmentally and budget conscious grad student with a passion for writing, Matthew Hall works as a content creator for One of the most energy consuming parts of every home is temperature regulation, whether is heating or cooling. Keeping your air conditioner in tip top condition is key for saving energy and money. To learn more how you can save energy and live a greener life, check out Matt’s Google+.