Hey, you – with the perpetually plugged in cell phone charger on your kitchen counter. Listen up: You don’t need to have your computer on permanent standby. Or your DVD player ready for when you come home from work. Pull the plugs.

And, let’s be honest. Do you really need the lights turned on in every room in your house at night? Didn’t think so.

It’s important to conserve, not just for financial reasons, but because it’s the right thing to do. Kids learn by observation and every time you flick off that overhead fan, or turn off that light, you’re teaching them that the world has limited natural resources and that it’s everyone’s job to limit their footprint.

Here are 10 virtually painless ways to lower your consumption, without losing your mind:

  1. Turn everything off standby. Televisions, appliances, computers, game machines, phone chargers...
  2. Replace all the light bulbs in your house with energy-saving ones. If every U.S. household replaced just one
    incandescent with an Energy Star-rated fluorescent, we’d save enough energy to light 7 million homes.
  3. Turn down the air conditioning or the heat. For each degree you adjust your thermostat, you’ll save as much as 5 percent on heating costs.
  4. Call your power company to ask about alternative energy options – they don’t always cost more. You can also check out www.climatechangenow.com

  5. Buy local produce. The less your food commutes, the less energy used to get it there.
  6. Vacation closer to home. Each short haul flight you take puts as much carbon into the air as three months of driving – let alone that flight to Europe.
  7. Buy small appliances that don’t use much (or any) electricity: solar powered flashlights, items with rechargeable batteries, wind-up radios. As far as kids are concerned, the novelty of the items often makes up for their inconvenience.
  8. Walk or bike to work or school, even if it’s only once a month. According to the Alliance to Save Energy, U.S. consumers use almost 9 million barrels of gas a day – 43 percent of total global consumption.
  9. Buy more efficient appliances. In 2005, the average U.S. household spent $1,900 on energy bills. Using Energy Star-rated appliances can cut that bill by 30 percent.
  10. Change the way you wash things. 80-85 percent of the energy used to clean clothes is used to heat the water. Use warm or cold, instead of hot. Your clothes will still get clean.

Under the Energy Policy Act of 2005, there’s money to be had for going green. Check out www.dsire.org for a list of tax incentives at the state and national level.