Wednesday, April 23, 2014

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Top Ten Easy Steps to Energy Efficiency

Top Ten Easy Steps to Energy Efficiency

 

  1. Replace your light bulbs - Replace incandescent light bulbs with Compact Flourecent Light bulbs (CFLs). They last times longer and use one-fourth as much energy as incandescent bulbs. Plus, incandescent bulbs give off 90% of their energy in heat while CFLs give off little heat.  CFLs may cost a little more at the store, but they save you money at home. CFLs come in a variety of colors and styles.  If every home in America replaced one bulb with an Energy Star CFL, it would save enough energy to light 3 million homes for a year and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions from 800,000.
    CFLs do contain a small amount of mercury.  However, CFLs still result in fewer mercury emissions than incandescents. The average coal-fired plant spews about 13.6 mg of mercury to power an incandescent bulb, while it only emits 3.3 mg to power a CFL. Add that to the 5 mg of mercury the average CFL contains, and you still come out ahead. Be sure to dispose of CFLs properly: call your local solid waste authority for local options, take them to an Ikea store for recycling, or recycle them by mail with a Sylvania Recycle Pak.
    Light-emitting diode, or LED, lights are also becoming more widely available for uses around the home. A mercury-free LED light lasts about 50 times longer than an incandescent bulb. You can now find LED reading lamps and LED Christmas lights. A strand of LED Christmas lights uses 90 percent less energy than incandescents.

  2. Turn off lights you're not using - Turn of the lights when you leave the room or install motion sensors for around $20 each to turn lights off when the room remains empty for a certain period of time.

  3. Skip the dry cycle on your dishwasher - The drying cycle uses a lot of energy when you can air-dry them for free. Leave the dishwasher door open over night or simply use a cloth to dry your dishes.

  4.  Wash your clothes in cold water - With modern washing machines and detergents, washing your clothes in cold water gets them just as clean as washing in hot water, but it uses half the energy. If you have to use hot water choose cold water for the rinse cycle.

  5.   Give up your dryer - Hang your clothes out to dry on a rack or clothesline. You can avoid wrinkles by using your dryer for five minutes, then hanging clothes on the line. This can save you 10% off your energy bill. Just remember, if you have outdoor allergies stick to the indoor drying rack or laundry lines rather than hanging them outdoors.

  6.  Turn off your electronics and eliminate "phantom load" - If you're going to be away from your computer or appliance for more than an hour, turn it off! Even on an "energy-saver" setting, a computer, game console, or television wastes much more energy when it's on all day than if you really turn it off. Many electronics even use electricity when they're turned off. Unplug your electronics individually, plug them all into a power strip and turn the entire strip off, or use a SmartStrip to manage your devices' energy usage. Turning off your electronics and eliminating "phantom load" can reduce energy usage by 10%.

  7.  Don't put energy into unused rooms - Close the vents and turn off room air conditioners and heaters in rooms that are largely unused. When you go on vacation, set the thermostat at least 10 degrees cooler in the winter and warmer in the summer.

  8.  Plug air leaks - Seal leaks around windows and doors with weatherstripping or caulk available at your local hardware store. The EPA estimates that properly sealing and insulating the “shell” of your home—its outer walls, ceiling, windows, doors—is often the most cost-effective way to improve energy efficiency in your home. By properly sealing and insulating your home, you can save anywhere from 5 to 50 percent of your energy bill each year. Only 20 percent of homes built before 1980 are well-insulated, so if you own an older home, you should assess if you need more insulation.

  9. Treat your windows - Windows take up about 15 percent of wall space in the average home, and offer far less insulation than your walls. In the winter, up to 16 percent of heated air in your home can escape through your windows, and in the summer, solar glare coming in through windows heats up your home. Installing window coverings or using low-e film can stop heat gain and loss by up to 50 percent—and can save you up to ten percent of the energy you use for heating and cooling. Make sure the edges of your windows are properly sealed and fill any gaps with no-VOC caulk. Cover the windows in the winter with heavy curtains  or drapes to reduce heat loss. Create shade in the summer around your windows to reduce solar heat gain by installing window coverings like drapes, blinds, or awnings. Awnings on the outside of your house are about 50% more efficient than indoor treatments because they stop the sun before it even hits the glass.

  10.  Get a programmable thermostat - A programmable thermostat allows you to automate when your heating or cooling systems come on and off—for example, it can be programmed to come on to warm the house shortly before you get up, and to automatically shut off during the hours when you are sleeping or away at work. It will pay for itself in energy savings within a year.

    Resources:
    Co-op America - Simple Things You Can Do Today

 

 

 

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