Energy - What can you do about it?
Since the way we use energy to fuel our electricity use, vehicles and manufacturing needs is inefficient, any changes we make to save enegy will reduce air pollution. By cleaning up the air, less exhaust material contaminates the water reducing fisher, crop and forestry damage. Your comfort, health and savings depend, to a great degree, on how efficiently you use fuels to get the most out of your investment in appliances.
Remember! Becoming an energy miser: saves money, and what can be wiser? And, consider these actions, some you may already do:
- Buy energy saving appliances when replacing old stoves, water heaters and refrigerators.
- In a typical family of four, most energy dollars go toward heating and cooling (34%) and water heating (17%). That's why it is important to use and select energy equipment carefully. Select the most energy-efficient models. Buying energy efficient appliances saves 50% on your electric bills.
- When shopping for appliances, think of two price tags for that appliance. (1) covers the purchase price (down payment) (2) cost of operating the appliance during its lifetime.
- Look for the ENERGY STAR label. Those appliances have been identified by the US EPA as being the most energy-efficient products in their classes. Individual consumers can save up to 40% on their energy bill by looking for the Energy Star label when buying appliances, windows, heating and cooling units and computers.
- Look for the bright yellow and black ENERGY GUIDE label. Although these labels will not show which appliance is the most efficient, they will show the annual energy consumption and operating cost for each appliance.
- When pricing new air conditioning units, ask about and buy the most efficient unit in terms of its cost to run from year to year measured in electricity used and the cost of electricity in your service area.
- Clean the condenser coils on your refrigerator once a year. Move the unit away from the wall and use a vacuum to remove the dust that accumulates (unless you have a no-clean condenser model.) Properly maintaining your refrigerator saves energy and extends the life of your refrigerator.
- The average American homeowner spends up to $475 per year to run the refrigerator, washer and dryer, dishwasher, cooking stove and other appliances.
- Keep your freezer at a temperature between 0 - 5degreesF. Settings below this use more energy and are not necessary. By doing this, you may save between $5.00 and $10.00 per year in energy costs.
- Allow at least one inch of space on each side of the refrigerator for good circulation. Poor circulation can increase energy consumption by 10%.
- Save with a new washer. Interested in seeing how much you could save in energy costs by replacing your current washing machine? Go to this web site: http://www.energyguide.com/audit/HAintro.asp
- Thinking about replacing your refrigerator? Go to this web site to help estimate what you will save by replacing your old refrigerator with a new, energy-efficient model. http://www.energyguide.com/audit/HAintro.asp
- Wash full loads of clothes when possible. Your washer generally uses the same amount of energy regardless of how much clothing is washed. By combining loads together, you reduce the number of loads you wash, thus reducing energy.
- Replace your washer and / or dryer with newer models that have high energy-efficiency ratings. The initial cost may be more, but the energy savings and lower bills pay for themselves in a short period of time.
- Avoid over-drying clothes. Not only does it waste energy, but it can also damage your clothes. By conscientiously checking the dryer, you can reduce energy use by up to 15%.
The first step to taking a whole-house energy efficiency approach is to find out which parts of the house use the most energy. A home energy audit will show where these areas are and will suggest the most effective measures for reducing energy costs. (1) Conduct a simple home audit yourself; (2) Contact your local utility for a free audit; (3) Call an independent energy auditor for a more comprehensive examination.
- Check to see that there is insulation in the exterior walls, ceilings, attic, floors and crawl spaces.
- Check for holes or cracks around walls, ceilings, windows, doors, light and plumbing fixtures, switches and electrical outlets that can leak air into or out of the home.
- Check for open fire dampers.
- ake sure appliances and heating and cooling systems are operating properly and are maintained.
- Study your family's lighting needs and observe usage patterns, paying special attention to high-use areas such as the living room, kitchen and exterior lighting. Look for ways to use daylight and reduce the time lights are on.
- Replace incandescent bulbs and fixtures with compact or standard fluorescent lamps.
When buying new cars, look for the best mileage or mile per gallon
ratings (CAFE standards) or buy a hybrid automobile.
Chimney Dampers / Flue
Make sure chimney flue is closed when cooling your home. Cool air escapes from any outside opening in your home.
Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs
As current light bulbs burn out, replace them with compact fluorescent light bulbs instead. Forbes Magazine reports that you will get 35-50% return on this energy-efficient investment. There are many advantages in using compact fluorescents:
- Available in many varieties and sizes.
- As much illumination as incandescent bulbs.
- Uses one-fourth the energy of incandescent bulbs.
- Will not radiate heat while cooling your home with air conditioning, like incandescent bulbs.
- Keep half a ton of CO2 out of the atmosphere, unlike incandescent bulbs.
- Lasts for 10,000 hours!! 13 times longer than incandescent bulbs, lasting only 750 hours.
Places where you might begin using compact fluorescents before waiting for your incandescents to burn out are: Porch light fixtures, utility rooms, light fixtures in vaulted / cathedral ceiling areas. These infrequently used or inconvenient spots make using compact fluorescents convenient as well as cost effective.
Click here to find out about compact fluorescent "Porchlight Program"
- Microwaves use around 50% less energy than conventional ovens; they're efficient for small portions or defrosting.
- Stovetop cooking is more efficient for larger items.
- Microwave cooking is LEAST efficient for larger items, like turkeys.
- Pressure cookers are considerably more energy efficient than regular ovens.
- Gas oven pilot lights should burn with a blue cone-shaped flame. If the flames are mostly yellow, or a "jumpy blue", gas is being wasted and the stove needs adjustment.
- Test for oven temperature accuracy by using an oven thermostat.
- Keep reflectors under the stovetop elements clean. The better they can reflect the heat, the more energy efficient your stove is.
- Check the seal on the oven door. If there are any cracks or tears, replace. Even a small tear or gap is enough room for heat to escape.
- Keep the oven seal clean for better heat retention.
- When using glass or ceramic baking dishes, lower the baking temperature 25 degrees, since these materials retain heat better.
- Thaw frozen foods in the refrigerator first in order to reduce cooking time.
- Keep the oven door closed when cooking. Every time the oven door is opened during cooking, 25 - 50 degrees are lost.
- Do NOT preheat longer than necessary. Ten minutes is sufficient.
- Turn the stovetop burners off several minutes before the allotted cooking time. The heating element will stay hot long enough to finish the cooking without using more electricity.
- Let warm leftover foods cool before putting them in the refrigerator. This saves energy by not having to cool the food down when putting it away in the refrigerator.
Let Mother Nature cool your home at night or on breezy days by opening windows and doors to create cross ventilation.
Run the dishwasher only with a full load. Use the energy-saving settings to dry the dishes. Don't use heat when drying.
A dishwasher usually uses less water than if you washed dishes by hand under running water. A dishwasher uses about 11 gallons of water; hand-washing takes about 16 gallons.
Everyone needs to conserve energy, because energy consumption habits play a role in the proper functioning of the planet's ecological system. Energy consumption produces greenhouse gases like methane and carbon dioxide. These gases affect the air people breathe, the warming of the planet, the functioning of ecosystems and many other things. Everyone wants to breathe clean air, drink pure water and ensure that future generations are able to do the same. Energy efficiency or conserving energy has these benefits:
- Saves $$ on monthly household energy bills.
- Win / Win for the environment. The air is cleaner, more smog-free, and there is less acid rain ruining pristine waters where people fish and swim.
- Win / Win for your health. As the health of the environment improves, your health will ultimately be better too.
- ?Protects jobs, such as agriculture and tourism, where a healthy environment is critically important.
- Win / Win for wildlife and habitats. Areas such as national parks, coral reefs and your own yard will be more sustainable if less carbon dioxide is expelled into the atmosphere.
- Invest in solar thermal or solar electricity for your energy needs.
Use ceiling fans when a room is occupied. In the summer, energy costs can be reduced by using ceiling fans to supplement air conditioning.
Use kitchen, bathroom and other ventilating fans wisely. If you are not careful, in just one hour, these fans can pull out a house full of warmed or cooled air. Turn fans off as soon as they have done the job.
- Place the faucet lever on the kitchen sink in the cold position when using small amounts of water. Placing the lever in the hot position uses energy to heat the water even though it may never reach the faucet.
- Conserve hot water with non aerating low-flow faucets and shower heads.
- Repair leaky faucets promptly. A leaky faucet wastes gallons of water in a short period.
Change or clean heating and air conditioning filters each month during seasons of high usage. Clogged filters make the unit work harder, increasing operating costs.
- Use higher density insulation, such as rigid foam boards, in cathedral ceilings and on exterior walls.
- Install attic vents along your entire ceiling to help ensure proper airflow and ventilation.
- Insulate the duct work, patch the holes and be sure that you are not heating the outdoors on cold days or air conditioning your yard on hot days!
- Add insulation in the attic. It's the easiest and the most cost-effective way to insulate your home.
- Install a "vapor barrier" on the inside face of insulation to keep warm, moist air from the house from infiltrating the insulation and dampening it. When insulation gets wet, it loses most of its insulating value - just like wet clothes.
- Insulate electric hot-water storage tank and pipes, but be careful NOT to cover the thermostat.
- Insulate gas or oil hot-water storage tanks and pipes, but be careful NOT to cover the water heater's top, bottom, thermostat or burner compartment. When in doubt, get professional help.
- Caulk and weather strip around doors and windows to plug air leaks.
FACT: For every 10,000 electronically heated homes with proper attic insulation, 140 fewer pounds of CO2 could be released into the air each year.
Here are the most efficient lamps or bulbs:
- Solar power lighting is the most efficient lamp. They are easy to install, inexpensive and good for the environment. They are safe because they don't involve wiring and can be easily moved as lighting needs change. Once solar lights are purchased, they are free to operate. they may be a bit more expensive initially than low-voltage lights, but there is no ongoing cost. We recommend solar for accent lighting and to illuminate access areas such as garden walks or pathways. Remember: They only work in an area that has good exposure to the sun. If you need really bright light, they might not be the best choice.
- Low-pressure sodium is the most efficient lamp commonly used for outdoor lighting.
- High-pressure sodium is the second in efficiency to low-pressure sodium
- Metal halide, a high-intensity discharge bulb that requires a special ballast, is less energy efficient than low- or highpressure sodium, butit is still an efficient fixture.
- Use Compact Fluorescents in your porch light.
The following items or practices should be avoided:
- Mercury vapor lamps, which are inefficient and expensive to operate.
- Incandescent and quartz halogen lamps, except where used for motion detector.
- Fixtures that direct light over large distances horizontally.
- Over-lighting, which damages relationships with neighbors and wastes energy.
Paint your home a light color to reflect sunlight.
Use a pool blanket (an insulating sheet that floats on the surface of the pool) to cut the energy consumption of pool heaters by 40-70%.
Close an unoccupied room that is isolated from the rest of the house. Turn down the thermostat, close the vent or turn off the heating and cooling for that room.
- Heating and cooling the home uses more energy and drains more energy dollars than any other system.
- Typically, 44% of the utility bill goes for heating and cooling.
- No matter what kind of heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system the house has, cost efficiency and comfort can be increased by properly maintaining and upgrading those systems in the house.
- On an average summer day, American air conditioners provide enough cold air to produce 16 trillion ice cubes.
- Set the fan on "auto" when operating the cooling unit for economy and best humidity control.
For Heating, recommended settings for the thermostat are:
68-70 degrees when out
FACT: When heating, save (($$) for each degree the thermostat is lowered by reducing heating costs by 3-5%.
- 78 degrees when at home
- 85 degrees when out
FACT: When cooling, save ($$) 2% of cooling cost for each degree you raise your thermostat by. Raising by just 5 degrees saves ($$) 10%.
Plant trees next to your home to cut down on the amount of sun that reaches your home, especially on the East and West sides of your home.
(Also see Tree Plantings, Gardening, Plants & Animals, Xeriscaping)