If you are like the average college male, you likely own a gaming console.
Did you know: Gaming coonsoles consume nearly as much power when they are left idle as they do when you are playing them? Remember to turn it off when you are not using it!
According to the Department of Energy, many homes have the potential to eliminate 50% of their annual energy use. One way to do this, when it comes to heating, is to seal air leaks. Fixing these leaks can save 40% of your heating energy. Usually, the largest sources of leakage are the rim joint areas at the top of the basement foundation or holes in the attic.
A tiny crack around a window may not seem like a big deal; however, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, a 1/16" crack is like leaving the window open 3" all year long!
Your water heater can be a source of wasted energy. By insulating your hot water pipes, you can avoid heat loss when the water is traveling. Additionally, setting a water heater limit – 140 degrees is the maximum needed, even for your dishwasher – can lower water costs. Lastly, before leaving for vacation, remember to unplug large appliances, and don't forget to turn down (or off) your water heater!
An easy way to increase energy savings is to use fluorescent bulbs when possible. Make sure you are using the correct wattage, and keep your light bulbs clean (dirt absorbs light)!
Did you know: If everyone in Ames replaced five incandescent bulbs with CFLs, 40 million pounds of CO2 could be eliminated from the atmosphere!
Switch off that overhead room lighting, and opt for a desk lamp or lower-wattage lamp!
Light your landscape, sans energy costs, with solar outdoor lighting. Solar lights collect energy from the sun during the day to provide illumination at night.
Televisions, DVD players, and other electronic equipment can use nearly as much energy when left on standby as when they're in use. To avoid wasting energy, unplug equipment when you're not using it. To make things as easy as possible, plug multiple devices into a power strip, which you can switch on and off at once.
The best time to buy an air conditioner is (surprise, surprise) after the hot season! When shopping for an air conditioner, be sure to look for ENERGY STAR models!
Did you know: An improperly installed furnace can be 30% less efficient than one that is properly installed!
Did you know: You could lower your heating and cooling bills by up to $180 per year by setting the temperature cooler in the winter (or warmer during the summer) by 10 degrees for 8 hours each day!
Screen savers don't save energy. Rather, the purpose of a screen saver is to protect your screen from one single image remaining imprinted upon it. Make sure to turn your computer and/or laptop off when you are done.
By replacing single-paned windows with double-paned ENERGY STAR windows, you can reduce your heating and cooling costs! Note, the U-Factor (found on the label) should be .3 or less.
We throw around the term "carbon footprint" quite frequently, but what exactly is your carbon footprint? Well, it is the measure of the amount of greenhouse gasses produced by human activities, in units of carbon dioxide. It includes direct emissions of CO2 from the burning of fossil fuels (through transportation and energy consumption) and indirect CO2 emissions from the manufacture and breakdown of a variety of products. A carbon footprint conceptualizes the human contribution to global warming.
Consider buying rechargeable batteries, and recycling them when you are done with them. Non-rechargeable batteries are tough to recycle and often end up in landfills. In addition, try not to throw batteries in the garbage; instead, find out where they can be recycled!
If you turn a CFL on and off frequently, it will not meet its rated life expectancy. CFLs work best if they are left on for at least 15 minutes each time they are illuminated.
Did you know: If you install a low-flow showerhead, it will NOT reduce your water pressure! Plus, you can purchase a low-flow showerhead for as low as $10!
Get your workout in when you are improving the home by using hand tools in the place of power tools whenever possible. For those jobs that require power tools, make sure to keep your power tools in tip-top shape for efficiency!
Consider planting shade trees on the south and west sides of your home to cool during summer and protect during the winter. You can also plant shrubs around your foundation.
Visit MidAmerican Energy online (www.midamericanenergy.com/homeaudit) and complete a home energy audit. Compare your home with similar homes in your area. You will also receive recommendations that can make your home more energy-efficient.
MYTH: If I turn down the heat while I'm gone, it will cost more than I save to warm the house back up when I get home.
FACT: The longer your house remains at a lower temperature, the more energy you save! If you have a programmable thermostat, set it to turn back when you leave and to warm up 30 minutes before you come home.
MYTH: Use space heaters to lower your heating bill – they use the same amount of energy as a coffee maker.
FACT: A space heater and coffee maker do draw a similar current, but remember a coffee maker is only on for a short period, while a space heater will be used for consecutive hours.
MYTH: A gas fire in the fireplace will help warm my house and reduce my overall gas usage.
FACT: Through a study by the Gas Technology Institute, gas fireplaces actually increase gas usage in most homes. Gas fireplaces range from 5-60% efficiency and gas furnaces have 80-90% efficiency.
Try out these kitchen-friendly tips to increase energy-efficiency:
- Cook with small appliances
- Avoid pre-heating your oven unless it is a short baking job
- Use the oven more when it is cold outside
Keep your fridge tidy so that you can find what you're looking for quickly. Up to 30% of the cold air held within the fridge escapes each time you open the door, so the quicker you grab and close the door, the better.
Check your tire pressure regularly! Under-inflated tires reduce fuel efficiency.
Keep your air filters clean!
Roll down your windows rather than using your air conditioner when possible!
Make sure heating registers and radiators are not blocked by furniture, drapes, or other objects!
In the market for a new furnace? Install an Energy-Efficient Furnace (92% AFUE or higher). They run about $6,000 but can save you up to 20% of your heating costs.
When looking into a programmable thermostat, check into one that offers pre-programmed settings, such as "wake," "day," "evening," and "sleep." This way, you have to set the temperature only once, instead of having to remember to reset it multiple times per day.
It may not be feasible to replace all your incandescent bulbs at once, so prioritize the rooms with the greatest lighting usage.
Defrosting your refrigerator before it's plagued with ice can help your fridge run more efficiently! Remember to check the temperature to make sure the fridge is set between 37-40 degrees and the freezer between 0-10 degrees.
Find some proverbial money in your pocket with these energy-efficient laundry tips:
- Dry clothes only as long as necessary, instead of the whole cycle
- Hang your clothes to dry
- Remove and fold clothes immediately to avoid ironing
- Keep your lint tray clean
- Use only the recommended amount of soap (too much soap makes your washer work harder)
- Use cold water
- Dry in consecutive loads, while the dryer is still warm
There are tons of ways to make more conservative energy choices. The U.S. Department of Energy maintains a very helpful website of different ways to reduce your energy usage. Check it out!
Try using some of these energy-efficient driving practices to save some cash:
- Drive at a steady pace.
- Warm up your car for only a minimal amount of time.
- Don't "rev up" your engine.
- Drive below 55 MPH – speeding costs you money!
- Coast in gear when slowing down.
Not sure if you need a new furnace? You can save money by upgrading your furnace to an energy-efficient model. Does your furnace fit into one of these categories? (1) Is more than 15 years old; (2) Needs frequent repairs; (3) Creates uneven temperatures (some rooms too cold and some too hot); (4) Creates humidity problems. If so, you may want to consider your options!
Determine if your city has a program you can participate in to help reduce the demand for power in prime times of the day, especially during the summer.
Did you know: Your ceiling fan has a switch that helps the fan cool or heat, depending on the direction it is switched to! In the summer make sure your ceiling fan is pushing air downward, and in the winter the fan should be pulling air upward.
In the market for a new home? Opt for one with passive solar features or one that has possibilities for home improvements with energy savings in mind.
Celebrate Bike to Work Week in May! Even better, get your workplace to participate. Consider establishing a "commuter challenge" program that puts together teams for departments, challenging employees to rack up miles from biking, walking, or public transportation, instead of driving, with incentives and prizes! You could even ask a local bike shop to sponsor your competition!
A furnace that is too large for your space doesn't necessarily heat your home any better, but it does drive up your heating bill! When shopping for a new furnace, buy one that is appropriate size for the size of your home.
Consider switching out old holiday lights for LED (light-emitting diode) lights. They emit hardly any heat and use less electricity, so there is less risk of fire. Additionally, they often last up to 20 years!
On sunny days during the cool months, keep draperies and shades open on the south side of the house. Close them at dusk. During warm months, keep shades closed!
It is so easy to leave your hotel room lights or TV on because you aren't directly paying the bill. Next time you travel, consider being as cognizant of your energy usage in hotels as you would be at home.
If you can, try sending a text message or e-mail from a handheld device or cell phone, instead of from a desktop computer. You'll save yourself time and conserve energy!
Do you find it hard to turn your heat down to the recommended temperature all at once? Try turning it down a bit more each week and adding blankets and sweaters as you go!
If you are an Alliant Energy Customer, consider signing up for the Time of Day Pricing Program. This program helps customers reduce their electric bills by choosing off-peak hours to perform their electricity heavy chores, such as water heating, space heating, air conditioning, washing clothes, and running the dishwasher.