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Energy Efficiency

“Efficient energy use, sometimes simply called energy efficiency, is the goal to reduce the amount of energy required to provide products and services. For example, insulating a home allows a building to use less heating and cooling energy to achieve and maintain a comfortable temperature.”  - Wikipedia 


Picture a simple triangle with CONSERVATION at the top point and EFFICIENCY and RENEWABLES as the bottom points. Understanding and applying this Energy Efficiency Triangle can save energy, money and help to preserve the planet!
  • Being more conservation conscious or connected with how you use energy
  • Upgrading with energy efficient measures
  • Lessening your demand = smaller, more affordable solar systems
First and foremost, CONSERVE. Energy not used is energy saved. A simple example is how we dry clothes. For most of us, it requires electricity and gas to power the dryer. But, we have a dryer that does not cost anything and gives us the chance to get off our behinds in front of these energy-consuming electronic devices and get some much needed outdoor exercise by using our solar system's energy plant: the SUN. Yes, they still sell clothes lines and clothes pins. So, CONSERVATION is all about not spending, using less, eliminating energy users, using what you have wisely and changing your energy using bad behaviors. Here are some tips:
  • Use power strips to turn off phantom or stand by loads.
  • If you are not using something like lights in an empty room, turn them off.
  • Can't get others to break the "always on" habit? Use occupancy sensors.
  • Refrigerator etiquette: Get in and out quickly. Keep the freezer full even if its empty milk cartons of ice. Clean the operating parts periodically. Replace worn seals.
  • Door and window etiquette: If you are using your heating or cooling equipment, remember it can only work for your house, not the whole world. Keep things shut.
  • If you have a good stretch of weather, open doors and windows to ventilate naturally.
  • Use your setback thermostat and learn how to program it for your lifestyle.
  • Wash full loads.
  • Use a weather smart sprinkler timer and/or turn it off in dormant winter times.
  • Size does matter. If you are in a large house and have a zonal control HVAC system, use it to close off portions of the house you are not using.
  • In the summer, interior shades and, even better, exterior shades can lessen cooling loads.
  • In the winter, heavy shades drawn at night can keep warmth inside. During the day, open south facing shades for solar heat gain.
Second in order of importance is EFFICIENCY. Now we are talking about spending some money, but if some of your appliances are wearing out, why not replace them with more efficient units?
  • Fuel switching. Study which fuel rates are least expensive, and if you are able to change from electric resistance heating to gas, it may be worth it.
  • Seal all the hidden holes or leaks in your building envelope to keep the conditioned air from escaping. Weatherization is important, but this goes beyond that.
  • Have your HVAC system ducts leak tested, and while you are at it, have a load calculation and duct sizing calculation done. You might just wind up replacing all the duct work. While you are at it, increase the duct insulation to R8.
  • Increase your attic insulation to at least R30, and if you can investigate what level of insulation is in your walls, increase to at least R13.
  • On to appliances! Always buy Energy Star and WaterSense labeled products, and do not buy bigger than what you really need.
  • If you are replacing your entire HVAC system, buy the most efficient within reason, and look into Energy Recovery Ventilators.
  • Of course, who would not want new double-paned vinyl windows? But, ouch! They are expensive! None the less, if you are remodeling, they are energy savers and outside noise reducers.
All the rage is solar, which is a renewable energy source. First, adopt conservation and efficiency. Then you will get by with less renewables and reap the savings. Here are some renewable energy projects to consider:
  • Solar PV or electric: If you have an average sized south-facing roof with little shade and you are going to be living there for some time, get an estimate.
  • Solar thermal for supplementing your hot water needs is more cost effective than solar PV.
  • Geothermal is best suited for new construction and can be the most expensive option.
  • OK, you are really jazzed about solar, but you rent. You don't have a suitable place for it or you just don't have the money. Do you have $25 you can invest and get returns on? You must check out
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