Looking for ways to save some money? Energy conservation is a great way to reduce your energy costs and save money (and the environment). Here are 5 easy do-it-yourself (DIY) energy saving tips you may not have thought of.
Insulation and Leaks –
A huge way to reduce your heating and cooling bills is to reduce the air flowing out and in to your home. Grab a tube of silicone caulk and and seal cracks around windows, beneath doors, around fittings (check wall switch & outlet plates). Once your windows and doors have been sealed, insulate! The attic and outside walls are obvious and bang-for-buck insulation targets, but windows and doors can really make a difference too. Double and triple paned windows will make a huge difference, but so can just installing and drawing a heavy curtain in the winter or closing reflective blinds in the summer.
Water Heater Blanket –
These insulating blankets can lower your water heating bills by keeping the heat in. Don’t forget to add pipe insulation over the hot water pipes leading from the tank too for an extra boost.
Already have a water heater cozy? Really cut your energy costs by turning down the heat. Don’t heat your water to 160 degrees if you only need it at 120 degrees! You will see significant changes in your heating bills for each little turn, or just go all out and upgrade to a tankless water heater. For maximum effect, turn down your home programmable thermostat in the winter and up in the summer.
Please excuse the sensationalist title, but it was just too good to pass up, and oddly true at the same time. Research into the links between the increase in weight and the warming temperature of our homes has resulted in some startling news- Warmer homes contribute to weight gain.
Now before you turn your house into a meat locker, you ought to know that small changes can have an effect. Just turning down the thermostat a few degrees can not only boost your energy savings, but also help shed ‘brown fat’, which lingers around the necks of adults.
The research focused around 1500 adults and found that over a six year period, those who kept their home temperature warmer (in the top third of the group), were twice as likely to become obese. To think that for every degree (F) you lower your thermostat below 68, you will save 3-5% off your heating costs. › Continue reading
Ever taken a good look at your heating or cooling bill and wanted to do something about it? Well, even if you have and bought a smart programmable thermostat, you may be spending more than without one.
A recent study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that “as many as 50 percent of residential programmable thermostats are in permanent ‘hold’ status.” Even the the governments Energy Star program removed their endorsement from all programmable thermostats primary because people don’t have the time or patience to program them properly, and the thermostat controls half of the homes energy bill. That is a lot of power for a device that effectively works no better than your sprinkler system.
Enter the NEST Learning Thermostat, the brain child of Tony Fadell, the iPod hardware designer and former iPod and iPhone division VP for Apple, after trying to decide on a thermostat for his new green home in Tahoe. A complete departure from anything you find on the market today, it is an iPod in a world of cassette walk-mans. › Continue reading
Earth Hour is starting to crop on the calendar. If you’ve never heard of it yet, you can visit Earth Hour’s site. During Earth Hour, participants turn out all their lights for one hour. It was started by the World Wildlife Fund three years ago as a way to speak up and raise awareness about climate change. While largely a symbolic act showing one’s support of climate change legislation, it also means that on that day an hour of electricity isn’t being consumed. This year, Earth Hour takes place on Saturday the 27th of March 2010 (next week!), at 8.30pm local time. That means, 8:30pm according to the time zone you live in, in case you’re confused.
Last year, around 1 billion people participated, including people from 4,100 cities, 87 countries, and seven continents. Some notable landmarks around the world that got involved include the Las Vegas Strip, United Nations Headquarters, Golden Gate Bridge, and the LDS Temple in Salt Lake City. You can watch the Earth Hour 2010 video, which has an awesome montage of various places before and during Earth Hour.
This year, show your support by spreading the word locally to friends, co-workers, and family. Join the facebook event or show your support with the twitter application found here. This application automatically “turns the lights off” on your Twitter profile picture during Earth Hour and sends out a tweet to tell your followers › Continue reading
Eco tips for saving money this winter. What works well in the winter, can also save you money on your cooling bills in the summer too!
The Little Stuff:
- Seal up cracks – Common spots for drafts are entryways (the back door and garage doors are notorious for draftiness) window moldings and seals. Caulking windows, sealing cracks and installing weather strips under doors will help seal out drafts accounting for big losses of heat.
*Be sure to add lots of indoor toxin removing plants to keep indoor VOC levels and off-gassing furniture emissions to a minimum.
- Insulate your attic – Cold air sinks, and if your attic isn’t insulated, it’s dropping down on you like an invisible fog. Get some insulation up there pronto! When choosing insulation materials, choose something with a high ‘R-value’ and try and stay away from anything with formaldehyde. It shouldn’t be any more expensive, but it will be much better for your health and indoor air quality.
- Insulate your windows – Break out the heavy curtains! Blinds and shades can also do their part in insulating you from the chilly outdoors. When the sun goes down, close your curtains or draw the shade to keep the warm air in and the cold air out. Be sure to open them first thing in the morning to get that rising sun.
- Insulate your water heater - Unless its a newer Energy Star water heater, most water heaters can benefit from an insulation blanket. Try and cover the first 6 feet of the hot pipes as well for an added benefit.
- Adjust the thermostat – I know it’s difficult at first, but each degree set below 68°F (20°C) during colder weather uses 3 to 5 percent less heating energy than each degree set above 68°F. A programmable thermostat can change the temperature automatically for when you are commonly gone or bundled up in bed saving you from heating an empty house.
- Change your air filter – Often overlooked or performed once at the beginning of winter, you should change your furnace filter once a month during heavy usage to keep everything flowing nicely.
The Big Stuff:
- Add a storm door – A benefit of up to 2 percent savings on your annual energy costs can be › Continue reading
With energy efficiency awareness growing, and new lighting technologies being developed at a rapid pace, which bulbs on the market offer the best value for the eco-conscious? With the more recent popularization of Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) bulbs due partly to their electricity savings and partly from huge discounts and government energy rebates making them more affordable, we ask the questions: which is the best value, which has the best life, which is the most eco-friendly, and which puts off the best light? We set out to put them all to the test.
Light Emitting Diode (LED)
Growing LED technology is developing one of the most energy efficient, long lasting and versatile bulbs in history. Already replacing traditionally incandescent automotive bulbs, flashlight bulbs, monitors and televisions, the LED is quickly becoming the new standard in eco-friendly efficient lighting. Household and commercial light bulbs are still in their infancy with very few and very expensive offerings that for the most part cannot compete with current bulb offerings.
Average Lifespan: 60,000 hours
Energy Consumption: 230 lumens / 7 watts = 33.9 lumens/watt
Average Bulb Cost: $54.00
- Cool to the touch
- Available in several shades and colors
- Very high color spectrum or temperature (closely mimics daylight) at 4200k
- Extremely long life
- good for floodlights and direct, focused lighting
- Price and availability
- narrow focus of directed light (almost like a flashlight in many instances)
- still in early stages of development for home lighting applications
Best Bet: Use in as low output uses such as nightlights, accent lighting and for directed and focused lighting situations, especially in difficult to replace areas
With so many choices for those looking to buy a new Television, laptop computer or other type of electronic device, why not take the environment into consideration when choosing?
Nowadays you can pretty much find four or five separate equally equipped 46 inch LCD HD televisions put out by different manufacturers. So when the specs are the same, the price is the same, why not pick the eco friendly company over the polluter? Greenpeace has come out with a Guide to Greener Electronics, and while its not perfect, it is headed in the right direction.
The basis for their ranking system is how the companies stack up when it comes to toxic chemicals in their products, recycling programs and climate change policies. While somewhat objective and compiled from cooperate website information, it helps form a reference point for companies committed to environmental stewardship.
7.45 Nokia – Scores top marks for leading competitors on toxic phase out.
7.1 Samsung – Holds second position for commitment to reduce absolute emissions.
6.5 Sony Ericsson – Up two places with better product energy efficiency reporting.
5.7 LG Electronics – Up two places but needs to eliminate hazardous chemicals from all products.
5.5 Toshiba – Moves up two places with an extra point for promising to cut GHGs.
5.5 Motorola – Scores higher and climbs two places because of use of renewable energy
5.3 Philips – Falls from 4th to 7th position and needs to put its commitment to responsible recycling policies into practice.
5.3 Sharp – Rises from 9th to joint 7th place with its energy efficient products.
4.9 Acer – Put out 16 new models of a monitor that are almost free of hazardous chemicals and climbed two places from 11 to 9 but still needs to sort out the power cord.
4.9 Panasonic – Advance from 12th to 10th place for energy efficiency and PVC-free product range, but still bad on e-waste.
4.7 Apple – Drops one position to 11th with no change in scores but gets kudos for their green MacBook.
4.5 Sony – Plunges from 5th to 12th place for inadequate commitments on eliminating hazardous chemicals, e-waste policy and cutting GHGs.
3.9 Dell - Stays at 13th place because of backtracking on toxic phase out.
3.5 HP – Is at 14th position and has no products on the market free of toxic substances.
2.5 Microsoft – Loses a point for a poor recycling policy but stays in 15th position.
2.5 Lenovo – Down two places with no set timeline for toxic phase out on all products.
2.4 Fujitsu – Debuts second from last with no products that are free of hazardous chemicals.
1 Nintendo – Stays put in last position with a glimmer of hope with partially PVC-free consoles.
Another website out there helping to make a difference is the Green Efficient Guide. Here you can look up energy saving televisions and compare them by their power use, making sure you get the TV that uses the lowest amount of electricity. They also track the standby power of these televisions, since no electronics are actually ‘off’ anymore.
You can even calculate the yearly cost of the television or electronics you choose by entering in the average amount of television you watch a day. You can even factor in whether or not you have a vampire energy-killing power strip.
Green cell phones are the topic of today’s Eco high/low. While green is a relative term here, alternate ways of charging your battery are emerging with more of an environmentally friendly spin. While this has yet to really gain traction, here are two options fairly new to the market, one an a uber chic (and most likely uber expensive) mechanical offering, the other a techno-savvy, but simple low cost design.
Ulysse Nardin Chairman Kinetic Cellphone – Eco Chic High
Created by a very well know watchmaker, the Chairman is an attempt to meld the complex mechanical movements common with old world style wristwatch artisans, with the newer high technology phones. With today’s youth choosing to go watch-less and instead depending on their cellphone clocks to provide them with the time, watchmakers are beginning to see the effects. Cellphones have become the new accessory among today’s youth, making other timepieces obsolete.
Leave it to Ulysse Nardin to capitalize this market with the introduction of a new cell phone bling unlike any other. It is ingenious in its own right, since most carry our cellphones in pockets or bags which are constantly moving while we walk, it provides the perfect charging mechanism. Since we are using kinetic energy to charge these phones, it is incredibly green, requiring no emission producing electricity. No word on cost, but with Ulysse Nardin watches priced in the thousands, and limited production numbers, I wouldn’t expect to see these at Best Buy.
Crank Cellphone Chargers – Eco Friendly Low
Technology in alternative energy generation is improving, and that good old crank style generator is becoming easier and more efficient. These devices provide reliable power generation to recharge your cell phone battery with a few minutes of winding everyday.
It is really the same concept as the kinetic device, but you are just doing all the winding at once by hand. If you have ever used one of the newer LED crank-style flashlights, you will know how relatively easy it is, and how long just a little bit of work lasts. As a bonus, most of these double as radios and/or flashlights, making them great to have around for power outages, emergencies and such. With prices ranging from $20-$80, it really is a bargain to be green.
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