More about Energy Efficiency and Saving Money

Strategies for saving power and reducing C02 emissions

These two topics are intimately connected because most electrical power in the United States and Europe is provided by power companies who burn fossil fuels such as oil and natural gas to generate electricity. So by reducing your consumption of electricity you are also reducing the amount of C02 gas emitted by power stations. The only exceptions to this connection are if you are ‘off the grid’ (generate your own electricity from solar and wind power) or you pay a prememium to a power company to only have electricity made from renewable sources of energy. Click on this link to discover if you are in a State in America with an option to buy green power.

For those offices and households relying on electricity from the main power grid using non-renewable fossil fuels there are a number of things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint, lower your energy bills and save your money.

1. Switch to Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs (CFLs).

Change your incandescent lightbulbs for CFL lightbulbs. CFL lightbulbs last between 8 and 15 times longer than an equivalent incandescent lightbulb, and they also use less power. By changing just the 5 most used lightbulbs in your house to CFLs you can make savings of $100 a year. It is essential, however, that you safely dispose of CFLs after use because they contain mercury which is America’s third most prevalent poison.

2. Use a Programable Thermostat.

The United States Green Building Council recommends you keep your house temperature at 78 degrees Fahrenheit or higher in the summer and 62 degrees Fahrenheit or lower in the winter. The Honeywell RTH8500D 7-Day Progammable Thermostat is a recommended thermostat that will save you $700 a year in heating and cooling costs.

3. Plug Air Leaks.

Common leaks occur around windows, doors and other wall penetrations. Simply use weather stripping and caulk to plug the holes. Plugging holes will reduce energy bills by $100 or more a year.

4. Tune Up Your Heating and Cooling (HVAC) System.

Have your heating and cooling (HVAC) system checked every two years to make sure it is running efficiently. Furthermore, during peak usage, clean your filter monthly. These two measures will save you over $100 a year.

5. Buy Locally where possible and Support companies with Green Policies.

This is about seeing the bigger picture. Carbon emissions involved in making a product and transporting it to your house or office can off-set any superficial carbon and energy savings. So where possible look for local suppliers of products and suppliers that reduce shipping costs. Also look for suppliers who cut down on packaging and use soya based inks and recycled paper. Furthermore, check company websites and other literature to see if a company has any environmentally friendly policies in place regarding their production process, materials sourcing and waste disposal.

6. When you need to buy a new appliance buy one with ENERGY STAR certification.

Energy Star was set up by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reduce carbon emissions in the USA. Products with the Energy Star mark have met vigorous green standards and will save you money in the long-run.

7. Power Down rather than go on Stand By

Electrical equipment that is not completely turned off still uses electricity. Turn off all non-essential appliances when they are not in use. You can greatly extend the life of your notebook computer if you shut it down properly when you are not using it. To help you over-ride the many appliances such as stereos, TVs and game centers that automatically go into ‘stand by’ mode use the LCG5 Energy Saving Power Strip.

8. Use Fans rather than Air-Conditioner Units and Close Off Unused Rooms.

A fan uses much less electricity than an air-conditioner unit and if placed correctly can reduce the temperature in a room by a few degrees. Also if you have unoccupied rooms in your house, close the doors to these rooms so your heating or air-con is not wasted regulating the temperature in unused rooms.

9. Insulate Your House.

Laying insulation under your roof space will save you hundreds of dollars. The effectiveness of insulating material is determined by its R-value. The higher the R-value the greater the thermal resistance and the more heat the insulating material will keep in. Insulating materials recommended by the EPA include fiberglass, cellulose, recycled cotton batts, rigid foam board and spray foam. In hotter climates installing reflective insulation that prevents heat entering a house is a good idea.

10. Install Solar Panels on your roof.

Solar panels that generate electricity from the sun are called photovoltaics. Solar panels are not cheap but the price is going down every year as the technology improves. There are two options – D.I.Y panels or ready made panels. To do-it-yourself you can bid for cheap solar cells on ebay and make your own panels. The best description on the net of how to build your own solar panels is by ‘Mike’.