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Energy Saving

Improving Energy Efficiency Through Your Attic

Insulate your home

During the cold winter months, heating your home is imperative. What you might not realize is that heat rises in your home, ultimately escaping through the attic. This is counter to the goal of keeping your home warm, and can add to your energy bill at the end of each month. Not to mention during the summer months, when the sun is bearing down on your roof and passing additional heat into your home, requiring you crank up the air conditioner in response.

Taking the steps to improve your attic space can help slow the transfer of heat through your roof, and ultimately save you money on your energy bill.

Sealing the air gaps in your attic. Don’t neglect air sealing in your attic simply because it isn’t a habitable space.  The sealing on your interior walls and floors can be less effective than the exterior walls. Are there ducts in your attic? Those should also be inspected and sealed, as well.

Improving the insulation in your attic. Your attic is exposed to a substantial amount of heat from the roof. By insulating the attic walls, you’re able to slow both heat gain and heat loss. Not sure what type of insulation to use? Consult your local HVAC technician for advice on what to purchase.

Properly ventilating your attic space. Even if your attic is not a habitable space, proper ventilation is important. Increased humidity in your attic due to poor ventilation can degrade the insulation or lead to mold and fungus. An attic with good ventilation will also help keep your home cooler during the summer months by expelling the warm air.

Even if you feel you are satisfied with your energy bill each month, it never hurts to consider making upgrades to your attic. Your home environment could be improved, at the very least.

Reducing Your Business’ Energy Bills

Paying bills online

We all know the feeling. When that utility bill ends up on your desk at the end of each month, you open it with a sense of dread, wondering how much of your bottom line will come at the cost of utilities.

But it would be safe to assume that, as a smart and savvy businessperson, you’re likely keen on finding and hearing new ideas for how you can keep that utility bill low.

Here are a few tips that could help accomplish that for you and your business:

Check with your utility company about conducting an energy audit. Several companies will offer to audit your building to determine if you are using energy efficiently. This will be help identify areas where you could improve your energy use and potentially lower your bill.

Use energy efficient light bulbs. You would be amazed at how much you could save by simply upgrading to more efficient light bulbs in your office building.

Standardize more efficient practices. Ensure that whoever closes up the office at the end of the day is doing their due diligence. Turn off the printers, computers, fax machines and even the coffee makers when they are not being used overnight.

Use power strips for all personal electronics. When you use a power strip to plug in cell phone chargers, radios and other personal items, be sure that they’re plugged into a power strip that can be turned off. This will save on energy during the night, as well.

Reduce the amount of paper used in your building. Think about it. The less paper you print, the less energy your printers are required to use. Not to mention the cost of additional paper and printer supplies when their uses become excessive.

These are just a few tips that can be helpful in reducing your energy bill and improving your bottom line.

Myths About Electricity

close up of a light bulb filament

Conserving energy is something that most of us strive for. But there are quite a few popular misconceptions about how to reduce the amount of electricity you use. By examining a few of the most common myths here, more people can become better educated on how to best conserve energy, rather than relying on misconceptions that have been debunked over the years.

Myth: Leaving the lights on is better than shutting them off, considering how much energy is required to turn them on in the first place.

This myth was fact several years ago, before manufacturers stopping using activators in florescent lights. The activator required a significant amount of energy to start the light, estimated to be about 15 minutes worth of light. Modern florescent lights are much more conservative, requiring less than one second of light when turned on. So be sure to turn the lights out when you leave a room!

Myth: Keep the heater at the same temperature, even when no one is in the building, because returning it to the designated temperature will require more energy than maintaining the same temperature.

This is not true, because lowering the temperature reduces the amount of cycles for the heating or air conditioning system. The few hours that the system runs, the less energy is used. To avoid freezing the pipes, don’t turn the heat completely off, but keeping it at a lower temperature when no one is around will help conserve more energy.

Myth: You no longer have to turn off office equipment, in large part because of technological advances that have allowed these machines to become more energy efficient.

While these machines are idle, most of them are still functioning at full power, ready and waiting to be used. Even computer screensavers are not as efficient as you might think. At the very least, turn off the monitor or shut down all unneeded machines overnight, during the weekends or while on vacation.

Ways to Conserve Energy

Adjusting a thermostat

Energy is a vital resource which is often taken for granted. Without it, our lives would be entirely different. We would be without lights and lamps, gas and electric, air conditioning and heat. It is a necessary commodity for us day in and day out. With such high demand, it is no surprise that energy comes at a cost- to our ecosystem and our checkbooks. Fortunately, within our own household there are many simple ways to conserve energy, as well as time, money and the environment.

First and foremost, it is important to begin monitoring your energy expenses. Knowing where the majority of your energy is being spent will help you know how to more efficiently cut back.  To better track your usage, you might also consider purchasing a plug load monitor. This device can be plugged into an outlet and will display how much energy is being consumed and when. Some are even programmable to automatically cut power.

Next, turn your attention to your house’s lights. If you are not willing to let go of any lamps or radiant bulbs, then you may want to think about a dimming switch. Dimming a light by just 10 percent will more than double a bulb’s life. Another option would be motion sensors for outdoor fixtures or indoor rooms that are not used as frequently or purchasing LED or fluorescent bulbs.

During the brisk winters, it can be difficult to manage the heating bill. To help these costs, you should lower your thermostat when you leave the home or during the night, minimize the use of expensive portable heaters, be sure not to block any air vents and utilize the sun’s heat by leaving shades and blinds open during the daytime. Similarly, much can be done to keep a home cool in the summer. Make use of ceiling fans, close exterior doors and windows when the air conditioning is on, block the sun by pulling blinds and shades, clean the AC’s air filters and set the thermostat to “auto” rather than “on” when air is constantly running.

These quick and effective tricks will keep your home running in tip-top shape while keeping your energy costs and usage down.

Spring Energy Saving Tips

Open window on a sunny day

Spring cleaning is about to commence and energy saving opportunities will unveil themselves in the process. Washing windows, stowing away winter clothes and blankets and even updating home décor can be contributing factors to saving on an energy bill. Spring cleaning is a great opportunity to pull the house together and get it ready for a change in seasons and a change in budget.

Acknowledging the tedious flaws that the winter reaped upon your home over the past three months can really pay off. The task of painting the shutters and trim, washing the windows and planting flowers around your foundation are a good time for homeowners to take notice of any heat-seeping cracks. These will require caulk to preserve the insulation of the structure which provides more control over comfort in temperature of the home.

Also in the early days of spring, we begin to prep our winter clothes and bedding for storage. Allowing for comfort for all who dwell in your home will help to resist the urge to crank the AC unit for some relief. Taking advantage of lighter clothing and blankets is an unexpected yet sensible way to relieve the heat of a high energy bill.

Learning how to utilize the changing daylight and nighttime temperatures will help find that comfort-zone. Updating home décor, especially drapes and shades, can help moderate the amount of direct sunlight getting in. If you’re fortunate enough to have a cooler evening, the open windows will help cool the house for the day ahead. Capturing the cold air and keeping out the warm sun is a definite way to keep the thermostat at a reasonable temperature for your budget.

With a few quick fixes, there are sure ways to find relief from a soaring energy bill. It’s pleasant to know that spring cleaning comes with the perks of savings.

The Most Energy Efficient Cities in the US

Boston, MA

Do you live in one of the most energy efficient cities in the US?  Recently the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy put out a list of the most energy efficient cities across the country.

“Energy efficiency may be the cheapest, most abundant, and most underutilized resource for local economic and community development,” says the ACEEE.

The scorecard that was formulated to determine the winners was based on the following criteria:

  1. Transportation – looking at energy efficient transportation and the accessibility as well as the city’s focus on location-efficient development
  2.  Energy and Water Utilities – access that the community has to energy efficiency and water efficiency programs
  3. Local Government – looking into the efforts for energy efficiency in government operations and procurement
  4. Building Policies – looking at the requirements and incentives that encourage energy efficiency
  5. Community- Wide Initiatives – looking at community-wide efficiency efforts and goals

 

Top three most energy efficient cities in the U.S.


#1 – Boston, MA

In an effort to promote energy efficiency among consumers, Boston created the Renew Boston effort that created a partnership with investor-owned utilities. The Renew Boston effort offers financial incentives to buyers for using/purchasing energy-efficient appliances.

Boston also stood out with its energy-saving goals in the government operations and building policies where large buildings are required to report energy use.

#2 Portland, OR

Winning out in the transportation category, Portland took a close second. Portland stands out in the efficiency of local government as well as transportation. With the Climate Action Plan the city stays on track with their goals to fund energy efficiency. Policies have also been developed to help promote compact development, improve zoning and land use, as well as reducing vehicle trips. Like Boston, Portland also stood out when it comes to the energy-saving goals and practices of the local government.

#3 San Francisco, CA and New York City, NY

San Francisco stood out in local government practices as well as energy and water utilities.  To promote energy efficient homes, homes must improve their energy efficiency before they can be sold or they may be renovated under the Residential Energy Conservation Ordinance. Policies are also in place to promote energy efficient buildings as well.

New York City did not rise above in one single category, but overall, it stood out. Requiring buildings to go under occasional energy audits and system tune-ups is just one part of the Greener, Greater Buildings Plan. New York boasts impressive efforts to make sure drinking water, wastewater and storm water management systems are efficient. New York also has a very high percentage of non-car commuters with 73%.

Looking at those who stand out, the importance of the promotion of energy efficiency is apparent both on a large scale as well as giving residents incentives to improve energy efficiency in individual homes.

Winter Energy Saving Tips

adjusting your thermostat

During those cold winter months, most of us try to stay inside; warm and snuggled up by the fireplace. Keeping homes warm against the bitter cold can be quite costly but there are small adjustments you can make to save money on your energy costs during the winter months.

One simple way to let sunlight into your home for natural heat is to open the curtain on your south-facing windows during the day. Installing tight-fitting drapes on windows that feel drafty can also help keep out the chill.  Another adjustment is to keep the thermostat set at 68 degrees or as low as is comfortable. For every degree that your heat is lowered within the 60 to 70 degree range, you can save up to 5 percent on heating costs. When you are asleep or plan to be away, turn the thermostat back about 10 to 15 degrees. Doing this for eight hours can save around 10 percent a year on heating bills.


Fireplaces are a great source of heat but can cause heat to be lost and wasted as well. Keeping the damper closed unless a fire is burning traps heat inside. Keeping the damper open is like leaving a window open that allows the warm inside air to go up and out the chimney. When a fire is burning, open dampers in the bottom of the firebox or open a nearby window slightly. With the extra heat from the fireplace, you can also lower the thermostat to about 50 degrees. If the fireplace in your home is never used, seal up the flue so warm air is not lost.

There are many simple changes each household can make that will help reduce their heating bill each year. It is important to do a yearly survey of the heating systems in use to see what kind of maintenance needs to be done. By finding the problem areas, you can cut back on energy costs and keep your home as warm as ever.

Benefits of LED Lighting

LED Light bulbs

You have probably heard lot about how you could save energy and money by switching to LED from traditional methods of lighting. It’s true. When you see how this new type of lighting compares to its competitors in terms of efficiency, lifespan and environmental impact, it is clear that LED lighting is by far the smartest solution.

What exactly is LED? Light-emitting diodes, most commonly referred to as LEDs, are a form of solid-state lighting that is renowned for its energy-saving ability as well as its longevity. Other forms of lighting such as fluorescent or incandescent are made from filaments or gases in glass bulbs. LEDs are different because they are tiny capsules where tiny chips are placed on heat-conducting material. LEDs are smaller than fluorescent and incandescent bulbs, allowing them to be used in spaces that are too small for these other types of lighting. Furthermore, LEDs give off light in a specific direction, making them more efficient when in use than incandescent and fluorescent bulbs, which burn through energy by emitting light in all directions.

Not only will LEDs save you money on your electric bulb, they also have to be replaced less frequently than other bulbs. This is because LEDs last much longer than other kinds of lighting. The average lifespan of a high-power white LED is approximately 35,000 to 50,000 hours. This is pretty impressive compared to 750 to 2,000 hours for an incandescent bulb, 8,000 to 10,000 hours for a standard compact fluorescent bulb and between 20,000 and 30,000 hours for a linear fluorescent light bulb.

LED lighting is also good for the environment. These eco-friendly bulbs contain no toxic materials and can help you to reduce your carbon footprint by up to one-third. By contrast, many fluorescent lighting bulbs contain a combination of materials such as mercury that are harmful to the environment.

Best Energy-Efficient Home Appliances

Energy Star logo

Each year, ENERGY STAR ranks the most efficient appliances and general product that represent the leading edge in energy efficiency. ENERGY STAR states, “Product categories were selected and recognition criteria were established to ensure that products that receive this recognition demonstrate efficiency performance that is truly exceptional, inspirational, or leading edge consistent with the interests of environmentally-motivated consumers and early adopters.” Simply put: to save more money on your monthly utility bills, check out the ENERGY STAR-rated appliances we’ve listed below.

Refrigerators
If you need a new refrigerator that will save you money over the cost of ownership, check out the Frigidaire FGUI2149P. This appliance sells for $1,119 and only costs about $41 to operate annually. According to ENERGY STAR, its estimated lifetime operating cost is $492. Features include 21 cubic feet of storage space, plus a SpaceWise® Organization system, bright lighting and a reversible door. If you need more space in your refrigerator, check out the LG LFC25776. It has 25 cubic feet at your disposal, French doors and a smart cooling system. It starts at $1,799 and ENERGY STAR estimates that it will cost $48 to operate annually and $574 over the course of a lifetime.

Washers
If you’re in the market for a small, efficient clothes washer, consider the Miele W3037. It has a capacity of 1.98 cubic space, Touchtronic controls, a 24 hour delay start and much more. ENERGY STAR has calculated annual costs to operate at about $49-$55 and lifetime costs to operate around $543-$603. If you require a bigger machine for larger loads of laundry, consider the Samsung WF393B*PA, which has 3.9 cubic feet of capacity, a deep steam cycle and steam care option, and Samsung’s Vibration Reduction Technology (VRT)®. All this and a starting price of just $999! This large washer is also surprisingly inexpensive to operate, with annual costs estimated to be $85-$90, and lifetime costs around $931-$985.