So it all boils down to ‘$ and Sense’ No matter what your motivation energy conservation can be argued form both the dollar and sense position.
Something that we can all agree on is the use of compact fluorescent light bulbs. Switching to compact fluorescent bulbs makes sense from the dollar standpoint because of something that is called a second price tag. A lot of the time we are able to justify efficiency decisions based on this second price tag, which is the cost of electricity the appliance uses throughout its lifetime. In the case of CFL bulbs they may cost more then the incandescent variety initially, but over their lifetime which is far longer then an incandescent bulb they use drastically less electricity. Consequently the two price tags of the compact fluorescent bulb combined are less then those of an incandescent bulb. In fact the combined price tags are equal after only 2 months after which the CFL light bulb just carries on with savings! Now from the sense perspective, lighting counts for about 5% of the homes electricity consumption. More then 90% of the electricity used in an incandescent bulb is lost to heat. The next time a 60 watt incandescent bulb burns out consider using a 15 watt CFL as it provides the same amount of light yet uses about 75% less energy and lasts years longer so you don’t have to change them as often.
Your appliances are responsible for the majority of your hydro bill and the principal of the second price tag can also be applied to any appliance. The Energy star symbol is a useful tool when looking at purchasing new appliances. Paying a small amount more for a more efficient appliance is often worth the investment. About 25% of household hot water is used for clothes washing and heating water is the biggest energy cost in your home.
An energy star washing machine uses as much as 50% less energy itself and up to 50 % less hot water thereby decreasing the energy cost substantially. About 25% of household hot water is used for clothes washing and heating water is the biggest energy cost in your home.
Energy efficient household appliances help protect our environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the sources of electricity generation that contribute to climate change. Another way to save electricity is to use you appliances wisely, for example a microwave uses 75% less energy then a stove or oven.
Its almost summer again and the hot days are already upon us that means it is almost air conditioner season again. A central air conditioner run 24 hours a day for the 2 hottest months of the summer could cost you as much as $540 dollars a year! But what are you supposed to do? Bake? Live in your basement with a fan and a glass of lemonade for 2 months?
What you don’t want to do is crank up your AC because this results in the soaring use of coal fire electricity which leads to smog on hot humid days. The average window air conditioner generates 1.3 tons of CO2 yearly this acting as a huge contribution to climate change. Keep your windows and blinds closed during the day to avoid over heating from the sun, or plant a shade tree on the south side of your house. There are many ways to keep cool without even turning your AC on. Or, why not invest in a programmable thermostat if you have central air or turn your window air conditioner off at certain times of day and at night when you don’t need it or aren’t around to appreciate it. Also the same places that heat escapes in the winter allow for the cold to escape in the summer, so make sure all of your doors and windows are closed and your house is well sealed to maximize your use of the cool air that you do produce.
There are experts out there who can perform a home audit and give you useful tips to make sure that your old or new house is air tight and comfortable. They can also hook you up with grants and rebates to help you to finance larger retrofits
But before you call a contractor to retrofit your entire house why not do a bit of detective work around yourself? You may be surprised to find that a basement beer fridge could be costing you over $150 a year and using 10% of your houses electricity. Think of the savings that would come from unplugging it from a dollars and sense perspective. Besides what kind of person needs 48 beer chilling at any given time?
In fact there are easy choices that you can make every day to conserve electricity such as hanging clothes on the line in the summer not only do they smell fresh but it puts a hold on the electricity used by the dryer (one of the least efficient appliances in your home) for a few months which saves electricity and money.
Another big consumer of electricity is that of phantom loads which are those that appliances such as computers consume when they are not completely turned off. A computer with peripherals can consume as much electricity as a phantom load as a light bulb. You can prevent this by keeping your home office on a power bar that you can switch off at night. What does your computer do at night anyway?
To learn more about all the reasons why electricity conservation is a good idea track down the Sarahs at their office or out on the streets with the high school students in July!