Introduction: How to Be More Energy Efficient
There are tons of ways to save money and lessen your impact on the environment, here are just a few ways to up your energy efficiency!
Step 1: Why?
Energy is simply the capacity to do work. Combustion occurs in your car engine, it is doing work in order to get you down the road. Energy in the United States is made for several purposes, from transportation to electricity, we all benefit from the energy that is produced each and every day. But not all forms of energy are beneficial for the environment. Coal, which is a huge air pollutant, produces a large amount of the electricity all over the United States. It’s judicious to get in the habit of using less energy to not only save you money, but help our planet!
Step 2: Personal Habits
Sometimes we don’t even realize what we’re using!
Water heating takes a lot of energy, and the more hot water you use, the more energy is wasted. Taking shorter showers or even washing your clothes on warm or cold helps save energy!
Instead of leaving lights on, go ahead and turn them off if they aren’t being used! Try using a timer for lamps as you get in the habit. Do the same with lots of other appliances that aren’t in use. Unplug computers after they’re done charging and don't plug in that coffee machine unless it’s in use
Step 3: Watch the Thermostat, or Don't!
Heating or cooling a home is an energy intensive task, and you can save a ton of energy just by turning the temperature down in the winter and slightly up in the summer!
You can save as much as 10% a year on heating and cooling by simply turning your thermostat back 7°-10°F for 8 hours a day from its normal setting. The percentage of savings is greater for buildings in milder climates than for those in more severe climates.
If you want to try other upgrades, try upgrading your thermostat to a Nest, or another smart brand. This way the thermostat learns when you are and aren’t home and can change the settings during the day to save you money by lowering your electric bill.
Step 4: Buy Some LED Bulbs!
By replacing your home's five most frequently used light fixtures or bulbs with models that have earned the ENERGY STAR rating, you can save $75 each year. Not only that, but by upgrading your light bulbs, they’re likely to last 3 to 25 times longer than a regular bulb!
Durable - since LEDs do not have a filament, they are not damaged under circumstances when a regular incandescent bulb would be broken. Because they are solid, LED bulbs hold up well to jarring and bumping.Cool - these bulbs do not cause heat build-up; LEDs produce 3.4 btu's/hour, compared to 85 for incandescent bulbs. Common incandescent bulbs get hot and contribute to heat build-up in a room. LEDs prevent this heat build-up, thereby helping to reduce air conditioning costs in the home.Mercury-free - no mercury is used in the manufacturing of LEDs.Light for remote areas and portable generators - because of the low power requirement for LEDs, using solar panels becomes more practical and less expensive than running an electric line or using a generator for lighting in remote or off-grid areas. LED light bulbs are also ideal for use with small portable generators which homeowners use for backup power in emergencies.
Step 5: Plant a Tree!
Deciduous trees, planted on the west, east and south sides, will keep your house cool in the summer and let the sun warm your home in the winter, reducing energy use.
Just three trees, properly placed around a house, can save up to 30% of energy use.
Trees or shrubs planted to shade air conditioners help cool a building more efficiently, using less electricity. A unit operating in the shade uses as much as 10% less electricity than the same one operating in the sun.
Neighborhoods with well-shaded streets can be up to 6–10° F cooler than neighborhoods without street trees, reducing the heat-island effect, and reducing energy needs.
Shaded parking lots keep automobiles cooler, reducing emissions from fuel tanks and engines, and helping reduce the heat-island effect in communities.
Trees absorb carbon dioxide (CO2), the primary gas causing global climate change.
Step 6: Ride a Bike!
You save money because you’re not putting miles or wear on your car, lessening the amount of maintenance you’ll need to do over time. You’re also not using any gas, which is the biggest money saving plus of all.
You’re saving the planet because while you’re riding a bicycle, you aren’t producing any harmful emissions. If you choose to ride your bicycle to work daily, you’re cutting your household emissions by 6% every year. In addition, you’re saving the forest, as less rubber is used to make tires for bicycles than for cars. Usually, entire sections of forests need to be cleared to cultivate rubber plantations.
Step 7: Got Money?
Saving emissions can be as easy as a few phone calls. Find a local solar installer and get a quote for your home. As the price of solar continues to fall, many people are finding that they too can be generators of electricity. Sometimes it can be a big enough array to go off the grid and sell it back to the power company!
Building a new house can be energy efficient too. Design with solar and geothermal in mind. Talk to your architect about placing the house on the property so that large windows face south in the winter and take in more heat. Make sure that insulation, window and door seals are top notch when construction starts so that no heat or air leaks out of your home and lose you money.
Wanting a new car? Consider a hybrid or all electric vehicle. There will be less money spent on gas, and if you have a solar array, the sun is powering your car! As technology moves forward, there will be new options for electric vehicles and transportation options.
Step 8: A Little Conservation Goes a Long Way
After all these steps you have prevented tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere as well as saved money, so give yourself a round of applause!
While the upfront costs and added effort might make these options initially unappealing, the long term savings and environmental impact are well worth it. Along with that, the more people that follow any or all of the previous steps, the greater positive effect it will have on the environment and overall energy needs! So share these ideas with others!