This article is sponsored by Flex Alert, California's demand response and energy conservation campaign. Learn more about energy saving and sign up for Flex Alerts by visiting Flexalert.org.

Did you know that you can cut your electrical bill in half by simply replacing light bulbs, sealing leaks and adjusting the thermostat in your home? In fact, Californians are capable of saving 1,000 megawatts of electricity statewide, or the equivalent of two large power plants, if they follow just a few energy conservation tips in their home.

Which is why the California Independent System Operator (ISO) will issue Flex Alerts--an emergency public awareness campaign that urges residents to conserve electricity--during heat waves and other challenging grid conditions that could cause a blackout. When current and forecasted demand indicates that conservation is needed, the ISO will issue an alert asking consumers to turn off all necessary lights and appliances, adjust their thermostat to 78° or higher and to postpone major appliance use to after 6 p.m. You can sign up for Flex Alerts here.

But why practice energy conservation solely during emergencies when you can save money, power and the environment year round? Energy efficiency in the home doesn't only affect your wallet; it can lead to job growth, increased air quality and help fight global warming. So instead of cranking up the A/C and running a half-full dishwasher, consider adding the following ten steps to your daily routine:

1. Adjust Your Thermostat: Setting your air conditioner 5° higher will save up to 20 percent on cooling costs.During peak hours or when you're not home, remember to set your thermostat at 78° or higher.

2. Unplug Electronics: Unplug battery chargers, power strips and other equipment when not in use. Taken together, these small items can use as much power as your refrigerator.

3. Prevent Leaks: Adjust the blinds on windows that receive direct sunlight. Also, keep windows and doors closed to prevent the loss of cooled air.
4. Adjust Your Water Heater: Turn your water heater down to 120° or the "Normal" setting when home, and to the lowest setting when away. Water heating accounts for about 13 percent of home energy costs.

5. Keep Cool With Ceiling Fans: Reduce air conditioning costs by using fans, keeping windows and doors shut and closing shades during the day. Most ceiling fans use less energy than a light bulb!

6. Be Smart About Lighting: Turn off unnecessary lighting and use task or desktop lamps with CFLs instead of overhead lights.

7. Power Down Your Computer: Enable "power management" on all computers and make sure to turn them off when not in use.

8. Wash Clothes in Cold Water:
When possible, wash clothes in cold water. About 90 percent of the energy used in a clothes washer goes to water heating.

9. Load Up Your Dishwasher: Run your dishwasher and clothes washer only when fully loaded. During summer, wait until after 6 p.m. to run your dishwasher.

10. Programmable Thermostat: Use a programmable thermostat to help keep your A/C costs low during the day when you're not at home.

To learn more about Flex Alerts, how to save energy in the office and the myriad benefits of practicing energy consumption, visit Flexalert.org.

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