I'm sure most of you consider yourselves at least somewhat diligent in the conservation of electricity in your homes. You know, turn off a few lights here and there, try to avoid messing with your thermostat (unless somebody else already messed with it, and it needs correcting).
But we've also all been conditioned to accept our monthly light bill as a necessary evil, and write our checks to the power company with mostly stoicism with a dash of regret, with possibly some vague determination to "be more conservative" in our daily switch-flicking.
But don't feel like you're out of touch with everybody else. Far from it. On average, we're not only using more electricity per person, there's a lot more of us doing it. We have electric outlets on nearly every wall of every room, but that's still not enough, right? Gotta get some of those power strips with eight plug-ins, and occasionally unplug one of those eight things to make room for something else that's hungry for power.
Anyway, you get my point. We're power-hungry devils, and the only thing missing from our repertoire of electric/electronic gizmos is an artificial intelligence, and it would probably lock us out of our house the first chance it got. Which...might not be a bad thing.
Well, the whole point of this blog was to get the following energy efficiency ideas in front of you, so here you go:
Tip #1 -- Replace your most frequently used incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lights.
Compact fluorescent light bulbs use only a third as much electricity as a standard incandescent bulb. Because a compact fluorescent will usually last ten times as long as a regular bulb, which means it is will easily pay for itself. If every household in the U.S. replaced one light bulb with a compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL), it would prevent enough pollution to equal the removal of one million cars from the road.
The only thing I would add to this is the fact that incandescent bulbs create light by releasing pure electricity into the air via an open filament, and they generate a lot of heat in the process. Heat that your air conditioner has to get rid of.
Tip #2 -- Replace outdoor lighting with a motion-detector equipped bulb or fixture.
Outdoor lights that are left on all night can add unnecessary waste energy and disturb wildlife. You can safely and efficiently light the outside of your home by installing light fixtures that are activated by motion sensor or a timer. These devices will keep areas well lit when you need them to be while reducing your energy bill
Not to mention they can scare the crap out of door-to-door salesmen and people trying to save your soul by banging on your door right when you set dinner on the table.
Hot Water shouldn't be a drain on your wallet.
Over 10% of your energy bill goes to heating water for your dishwasher, shower, and faucets. You can cut this energy use, and your energy bill, by implementing these easy steps.
Tip #3 -- Lower your hot water heater to 120 degrees and drain any sediment.
Though you need to keep your water heater above 120 degrees to prevent bacteria from building up, many hot water heaters are set too high. Draining some water a few times a year reduces sediment and increases efficiency.
Tip #4 -- Add insulation to your hot-water heater.
The standard hot water heater is on all the time, adding extra insulation will save more energy than you think. Most hardware stores sell pre-made insulator "jackets" that can be easily wrapped around one's water heater. Adding insulation to your water heater and any exposed pipes can knock up to 15 percent off the costs of heating water.
Tip #5 -- Install a low-flow shower head.
Low-flow shower heads are also a worthwhile investment (especially for renters, because you can take them with you) that will reduce the amount of hot water you use and hence the energy needed to heat it.
I'll be back at some other time to discuss our dwindling fresh water resources. Until then, please plug your sink and wash your dishes the old-fashioned way.
Heat your home - Not the planet.
Heating and cooling your home is the single largest expense on your energy bills. But taking steps to weatherize your home, you can make keeping your home a comfortable temperature easier and cheaper.
Tip #6 -- Check for and seal any cracks or gaps.
Heating one's home is the single largest use of energy for the average customer. Tiny gaps and cracks in an older home are roughly equivalent to a one-foot square hole punched in your wall, which means that sealing gaps with caulking and weather stripping makes a big difference in keeping the heat inside your home and saves you money.
Tip #7 -- Tighten Windows and Loosen Your Budget
If all windows were as efficient as the best products now widely available in the marketplace, the average household would save $150 a year, and reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by about 4,300 pounds per year. A cheaper and easier method than replacing windows is to insulate your windows during the colder months with transparent film that keeps the heat in and the cold out.
Tip #8 -- Heating Ducts: Keep the air flowing
If just one in ten households used current technology to upgrade their inefficient heating systems, we could keep 17 billion pounds of pollution out of the air. You can also save money and cut pollution by having your heating vents and ducts cleaned regularly, and having your furnace serviced.
Tip # 9 - Sweaters are in this season, so lower your thermostat!
Besides insulation, you can make a big difference in your heating bill by keeping your home at a slightly lower temperature. Lowering your thermostat one degree can cut as much as 10% of your heating bill.
Being an ex-Army guy, I can tell you the best way to stay comfortable is wearing a good pair of socks. You can set your thermostat at 85 degrees in the winter, but if your feet are cold, you're cold.
Tip # 10 -- Replace old appliances with more efficient models.
Though buying a new appliance isn't cheap, replacing an old appliance, like a refrigerator, washing machine, or furnace -- with a new, energy-efficient model can significantly cut your energy bill. Look for the Energy Star label as a minimum; some models can be even more efficient. And though buying a new appliance is a major investment, many states and utility companies offer substantial credits or other incentives to replace an outdated appliance with a more efficient one.
Tip # 11 Defrost your Freezer
The frost and ice that builds up in your freezer over time does more than make it hard to get to your ice cream - it also causes your freezer to work harder to keep the freezer at a cold temperature. By routinely defrosting your freezer, you can keep your ice cream cold and the planet cool.
Tip # 12 - Dirty Clothes, Clean Planet
Modern washing machines and detergents can clean clothes effectively in cold water - which means you don't have to waste energy by using hot water. Another way you can save energy in your washer-dryer and your dishwasher is to always wash full loads.
Alright, that's it. You can go now, but hurry up and shut the door—you're letting all the cool air out.