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For Earth Day, Minnesota Department of Commerce offers ten easy ways to save energy

April 20, 2012

For Immediate Release

ST. PAUL, MN – In 1970, the first Earth Day inspired 20 million Americans to personally contribute to improving the health of our environment. Forty-two years later, the annual Earth Day celebration on Sunday, April 22 is a chance to again empower citizens to pursue change in their daily lifestyles.

In recognition of Earth Day, the Minnesota Department of Commerce encourages all Minnesotans to think about their energy use and its impact on our environment. Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman reminds consumers that energy conservation is good for your wallet, and essential to the health of our environment.

“Just as recycling has become engrained in the culture of America, we encourage citizens to adopt simple and inexpensive energy-saving actions that can have a dramatic environmental impact,” said Commissioner Rothman. "On Earth Day, and every day, every Minnesotan can take small but significant steps to conserve energy, save money, and preserve a healthy environment for future generations.”

Those steps can be as easy as low-cost or no-cost energy-efficiency improvements that reduce household consumption of gas and electricity. More substantial improvements, such as replacing furnaces and installing solar panels, require a significant financial investment, but can be made more affordable with utility rebates and federal tax credits.

The Minnesota Department of Commerce offers the following 10 easy steps to conserve energy and make a difference this Earth Day:

  1. Get an advanced energy audit. An energy audit, with advanced diagnostic equipment, will evaluate your energy use, insulation levels, air leakage, and the performance and safety of mechanical systems and will determine what energy improvements are needed. Audits can be scheduled through utility companies and private contractors. For more information, visit the Minnesota Building Performance Association website.

  2. Seal air leaks. An enormous amount of energy is wasted when inside air (either heated or cooled) escapes to the outside through leaks in attics, walls, windows and doors.

  3. Ch eck mechanical systems. Water heaters, air conditioners, furnaces, gas fireplaces and ventilation systems should be regularly inspected and tuned up to keep them operating efficiently and safely.

  4. Heat and cool efficiently. Replace old, inefficient heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems with new high-efficiency options. Seal ductwork and bleed radiators.

  5. Install a programmable thermostat. Programming your thermostat allows you to be comfortable when you are home and save energy when you are gone or asleep. It will pay for itself in no time, and it can control your furnace, air conditioner, and air handling systems.

  6. Control hot water use. Use low-flow showerheads. A standard showerhead can use up to 5.5 gallons of water a minute; low-flow showerheads deliver a high pressure spray at less than 2 gallons per minute. Turn down your water heater to 120 degrees, and wash clothes in cold water.

  7. Replace light bulbs. Replace old incandescent light bulbs with more efficient CFLs (compact fluorescent light bulbs) or LEDs (light emitting diodes). For example, CFLs use about one-third of the energy and last up to 10 times longer than a traditional incandescent bulb with the same light output.

  8. Reduce standby power. Standby power or "phantom load" is the electricity that flows through appliances and devices when they are turned "off.” To save energy, plug devices into an outlet switch on an as-needed basis. Plug home electronics, such as TVs and DVD players, into power strips, and turn the power strips off when the equipment is not in use.

  9. Install timers/motion detectors. Why keep things on when they are not in use? Timers and motion detector switches can operate devices that are used infrequently or have switches that are hard to access.

  10. Buy ENERGY STAR products. Look for the ENERGY STAR label when purchasing new household products. ENERGY STAR signifies strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy. Visit

For more on energy conservation and energy efficiency, visit the Minnesota Department of Commerce website and see two energy guides: “Home Envelope” and “Appliances, Lighting, Electronics.” The Commerce Department has also created an Earth Day page where consumers can find links to Earth Day events planned throughout the state, view answers to various energy-related questions, and research some energy myths. Check out more energy-saving tips from the U.S. Department of Energy at