By Mark Williams, AP Energy Writer
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — These New Year's resolutions won't make you look fabulous in time for swimsuit season or add 10 years to your life. Instead, your reward will be a fatter wallet and maybe a cleaner conscience, because this is about saving energy.
You can pay for the bubbly next year with all the money you save.
The average household uses about 20% more electricity than it did 20 years ago. Flat-screen televisions, cell phones, video games and iPods can really add up, not to mention much bigger houses.
Here's how to can tame the energy beast in your home.
1. Get junior to shut off that Xbox when he's not riding a virtual half pipe or racing through downtown streets in a Formula 1 car.
Video game consoles collectively use as much power as the city of San Diego each year, according to a study by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Ecos Consulting.
Researchers came to that result on the assumption that half of all users leave their consoles on all the time. And the latest machines are big power sponges.A Sony PlayStation 3 or an Xbox 360 left on 24 hours a day, seven day per week will use as much electricity as two new refrigerators. The Nintendo Wii is a relative power sipper, however.
The study estimates that the annual electricity cost for a PlayStation 3 bought in 2006 that is shut off after use is $15; it's $160 if the console is left on.
2. Get into the spirit and replace those incandescent holiday lights with a string of LED lights. You'll save 71 cents for a string that remains lit 10 hours a day for 30 days, according to the Alliance to Save Energy.
It doesn't sound like much, but throw in 10 or 12 strings of lights to put on your house or a few trees, and the savings add up. What's more, LED lights last much longer, so there is less waste and less investment year over year.
3. Replace the five most used light bulbs in your house with Energy Star compact fluorescent bulbs and you'll save $60 per year. Energy Star is the government's rating program that shows you the appliances and electronics that are most efficient.