Finance Globe

U.S. financial and economic topics from several finance writers.
3 minutes reading time (605 words)

Save on Energy Costs

Last week, Earth Day was celebrated by more than a billion people across 190 countries, the Energy Department reported. First started in 1970 to encourage environmental reform, Earth Day is a time for each of us to take steps to protect the planet’s natural resources so they will be available for future generations. And as an added benefit, these actions also save us money.

Electrical
  • Upgrade old appliances to energy efficient appliances - look for the Energy Star label which shows the product exceeds federal energy-efficiency standards. The upfront investment will pay off in the long run.
  • Turn off unused appliances. Even better, unplug them or turn them off using a “smart” power strip to avoid drawing power on standby.
  • Switch your incandescent bulbs for Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) - the spiral bulbs may look odd, but they use about 75% less energy and last about ten times as long.
  • Look for LEDs for outdoor decorative lighting, which use far less energy than traditional lighting. Go with solar lights when possible. A variety of energy-smart outdoor lighting is available from low-voltage pathway lighting to motion-detector floodlights.

Ventilation
  • Take advantage of the outdoor air temperature when it is favorable. Open windows on cool nights in the summer and on warm afternoons during cool weather.
  • Check the seals around your windows and doors and caulk or weatherstrip as needed to prevent leaking air. This inexpensive and very cost-effective treatment should be checked annually to be sure the seals are holding up.
  • Use a programmable thermostat to automatically adjust temperatures depending on your schedule.
  • Use a range hood to draw cooking heat out of your home in warm weather. If the smells aren’t much of a concern, skip using it in the winter when the additional heat is welcome.
  • Dress for the season even while indoors. It may be extreme to wear a coat in your home in the winter but dressing in a warm sweater, cozy footwear, and even a lightweight hat can keep you comfortable while saving a few degrees of heating. In the summer, keep the air conditioning just cool enough to avoid discomfort - and dress lightly, use a fan to circulate cool air through the house, and enjoy plenty of ice cold drinks.

Water
  • Fix leaks around the house and replace gaskets and seals to avoid waste.
  • Only run the dishwasher or clothes washer when there is a full load.
  • Running water is money down the drain. Plug up the basin to hand wash dishes, thaw meat overnight in the fridge instead, and turn off the tap when shaving or brushing teeth.
  • Plant species that do well in your area with natural rainfall and little additional water. Only water the lawn or garden when it really needs it; dig down and see if there is moisture one to two inches below the surface of the soil - if so, your plants are fine.
  • Avoid watering in the heat of the day where much of it is lost to evaporation and use soaker hoses rather than a sprinkler. Take advantage of your air conditioner and rain gutters to direct water towards plants and use a rain barrel to water your lawn and ornamental garden. Mulch your garden to hold in moisture.

Manage Solar Heat
  • Take advantage of the sun on cool days by opening curtains on south-facing windows to let the sunshine in, and keep them closed on warm days.
  • If you’re in a warm climate, plant deciduous trees around your home that provide shade in the summer but let in warm sunlight through the winter.


Sources:
U.S. Department of Energy
Environmental Protection Agency
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Tuesday, 20 August 2019

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