Thursday, September 25, 2008

10 Ideas To Be Energy Smart

  1. Know the difference - Efficiency vs. Conservation. Two sides of the same coin, but definitely different approaches to saving on energy costs. Efficiency is based on improving the way we use our resources such as replacing incandescent lights with compact fluorescents. Conservation, on the other hand, requires behavioral changes in the way we use our resources such as ensuring that you turn off lights when not in use. Consider both when trying to reduce your energy use.
  2. Think outside the box. Your home, that is. There’s a tendency to think that home energy use is just about things inside such as heating, cooling, and lighting. Consider things outside the home that impact your energy use: commuting, landscaping, even how your home is oriented to take advantage of passive solar energy. Your current home may not have many of these items going for it, but that doesn’t mean you can’t improve. A shade tree to give your home a break from summer heat is just one of many small improvements you can make.
  3. Get a professional Energy Audit. A full evaluation of your home will pay for itself. You can get a free audit, but they are usually worth about what you paid. Once you get the audit findings, spend the money on those items that have a payback less than the time you expect to live there – it’s one of the best investments you will make.
  4. Use an Energy Improvement Mortgage. If you are getting ready to buy or refinance a home, then see if you can use this method of financing to pay for energy improvements to your home. It’s a great way to reduce your monthly expenses.
  5. Know your resource alternatives. Oil, clean coal, renewable biofuels. It can seem like the list expands daily. Every resource has pluses and minuses and no one agrees on one being the best. Generally, those that have the least environmental impact are also the ones that have the highest cost, but that isn’t always the case. My recommendation - If you have the opportunity and financial means to opt for using a renewable resource in your home, auto, business, etc., I encourage you to do so.
  6. Know your appliance alternatives. Gas furnace, hybrid, or geothermal heat pump? Tank or tankless water heater? Gas, electric, or solar? The “cheapest” option when installing or replacing a system or appliance in your home may not really be the most inexpensive. You must consider the true total cost that includes the cost of the item itself, installation, and most importantly –operational cost.
  7. Be vigilant. The technology for energy is changing rapidly, with promising improvements every day. Today, CFL bulbs are cost-effective and widely available in many forms. Yet, LEDs are quickly dropping in price and may soon be the option of choice in your home. Solar panels will continue to fall in price. Energy efficiency is not a one-time “makeover,” but requires us to take advantage of changes when they arise.
  8. Be opportunistic! Take advantage of the incentives available for being energy efficient. Replacing your furnace? Check the local utility for rebates. Installing solar panels? Look for tax credits. There are more opportunities for reducing the upfront investment than you might imagine.
  9. Be involved. What could be better than helping friends and family have an improved quality of life and saving them money in the bargain? Share your experiences and what you learn with them so that we can all benefit.
  10. Go beyond energy. Once you’ve started applying the savings and efficiency concepts to energy use, think about applying the same principles to other resources. Think about the effects of “reduce, reuse, recycle” in other areas of your home and business. You might find it easier and more financially beneficial than you think!

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