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8 easiest ways to save Energy


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8 Easy Projects for Instant Energy Savings

By Gary Reysa

Reducing your home energy use is the best of win-win deals not only does it reduce your carbon footprint, it also saves you big bucks on your energy bills. That s especially exciting when you consider that many home energy improvements are fast, easy and inexpensive. Often, the savings from an individual project are small, but when you start putting them together they add up quickly.

My family set a goal of cutting our total energy use, energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions in half, and we were able to meet that goal with the help of these simple home projects. We found these reductions in our energy use easy to accomplish without making any significant lifestyle changes.

Here are the details: We cut our total energy use from 93,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) per year to 38,000 kWh per year. This is saving us $4,500 per year in energy costs, and has reduced our carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 17 tons! Our rate of return on the money we invested in this program is more than 50 percent tax free.

Altogether, we took on 22 different projects, including two solar heating efforts that have already appeared in Mother Earth News. (See Build a Simple Solar Heater, December 2006/January 2007, and Solar Heating Plan for Any Home, December 2007/January 2008.) You can find details about all the projects we ve done at our home in Montana on my Web site. But those I ll explain in the following pages are the fast, simple ones. These eight easy home improvement projects cost us about $400 and will save us at least $9,000 over the next 10 year

The Top Eight Projects

Initial

Cost..Savingsper Year

EnergyReductionper Year

CO2 Reductionper Year

Personal Computer Power Management

$20,$178,1,780 kWh,3,560 lbs

Install Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs

$50.$117. 1,170 kWh.2,340 lbs

Seal and Insulate Heating Ducts

$20.$75.940 kWh.480 lbs

Reduce Infiltration Losses From House (Seal Leaks)

$50.$156.1,980 kWh.1,010 lbs

Vent Dryer to Inside During Winter

$5. $63.630 kWh.286 lbs

Insulate Windows With Bubble Wrap

$38.$75.960 kWh.490 lbs

Eliminate Phantom Electrical Loads

$70.$57.570 kWh.1,140 lbs

Use an Electric Mattress Pad

$125.$186.2,320 kWh.1,150 lbs

Totals

$378.$907.10,350 kWh.10,456 lbs

Prioritizing the Projects

When you start looking at any group of energy saving projects, you ll likely find a huge difference in the bang for the buck. In our case, it was the simple things such as controlling the amount of power that our computers use or basic insulating projects that had especially good paybacks. On the other end of the spectrum, the solar photovoltaic project we intend to do in the future will cost as much as all 22 of our other projects put together, yet will only account for 2.5 percent of the total energy reduction!

Why was the total payback on our projects so good? The keys to our success were:

* We did quite a bit of homework before we got started. We evaluated each project for what it would cost and what it would save, and threw out the ones that wouldn t pay well.

* Some projects cost almost nothing, but have big savings you can see on the chart above that several paid for themselves many times over within the first year. These tend to bring up the average return of the overall effort.

* We are do-it-yourselfers this can make a huge difference in the costs involved in some projects.

* Another bonus is that some of our energy improvements qualified for rebates or tax credits that further increased the money we saved.

Electricity and Greenhouse Gas

There s another reason to do these projects. Cutting down on electricity use is very effective in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Unfortunately, in the United States, most of our electricity comes from inefficient coal plants. Coal is a high carbon fuel, and compared to other energy sources, coal-fired plants produce a lot of carbon dioxide relative to the amount of energy they produce.

If we re concerned about climate change, we should be shutting down coal plants. Instead we are on course to build more of them many more. To me, this argues for doing an especially aggressive job of trimming your electricity use. If you want to reduce your contribution to greenhouse gases, most people will be able to find many hundreds of kilowatt hours that can be saved easily and cheaply with minimal lifestyle change. We get our electricity from a coal-fired plant, so all the projects we did significantly reduced the amount of greenhouse gas we produce. Notice that the projects that save electricity reduce greenhouse gases by about 2 pounds of carbon dioxide per 1 kWh of energy saved. For example, putting our two home computers on a power diet saved nearly 1,800 kWh per year and 3,500 pounds of greenhouse gas! ....

continues

http://www.motherearthnews.com/Renewable-E...gy-Savings.aspx

My inner tree-hugger is satisfied now.

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etifan (2/11/2008)
robpanama (2/8/2008)
My inner tree-hugger is satisfied now.

My inner hippie has the warm fuzzies. I'm more than willing to do the simple projects, but I'm not sure about bubble wrap on the windows. "Hey, quit popping my insulation!"

Yeah, there's no way that would last a winter with me around. So addictive.

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Hey, if anyone sees one of those dryer vents that has the door on it where you can flip it to go either outside or inside, please let me know. I've looked for those @ 3 Home Depots and still haven't found one yet. I'm beginning to think that most stores quit carrying them since most newer houses have laundry areas w/in the finished part of the house. But ours is in the garage, & it gets cold out there. Right now we're using an electric radiator style space heater, but I know that's not very energy efficient. I would use that vent idea if I could find the doggone thing. :pinch:

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falconfootball (2/11/2008)
Hey, if anyone sees one of those dryer vents that has the door on it where you can flip it to go either outside or inside, please let me know. I've looked for those @ 3 Home Depots and still haven't found one yet. I'm beginning to think that most stores quit carrying them since most newer houses have laundry areas w/in the finished part of the house. But ours is in the garage, & it gets cold out there. Right now we're using an electric radiator style space heater, but I know that's not very energy efficient. I would use that vent idea if I could find the doggone thing. :pinch:

Is this similar to what you want?

http://www.skymall.com/shopping/detail.htm...2145336&pnr=M53

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It's simple really. It's just a matter of people abiding by them. We have become spoiled with a comfortable life. We don't want to be uncomfortable.

I could set the thermostat in my home to float around 3 or 4 degrees either way, but I have it set at 2. We can lower the thermostat mean temperature and wear a jacket in the home, but no. We can seal every single door and window in the home for better insulation, but I'm too busy/lazy when I'm not busy. We can all turn off appliances/lights when not being used (I do this).

Personally, my first home will be solar-powered.

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etifan (2/12/2008)
falconfootball (2/11/2008)
Hey, if anyone sees one of those dryer vents that has the door on it where you can flip it to go either outside or inside, please let me know. I've looked for those @ 3 Home Depots and still haven't found one yet. I'm beginning to think that most stores quit carrying them since most newer houses have laundry areas w/in the finished part of the house. But ours is in the garage, & it gets cold out there. Right now we're using an electric radiator style space heater, but I know that's not very energy efficient. I would use that vent idea if I could find the doggone thing. :pinch:

Is this similar to what you want?

http://www.skymall.com/shopping/detail.htm...2145336&pnr=M53

It is similar, but not exactly. I saw those, but they are more for rooms that do not have any venting to the outdoors. The device I used to have was a square box w/pipe fittings on either side. One side goes to the exit vent pipe, the other side goes to the dryer hose. Then it has one side of the cube that has a little screen on it. You flip a lever and it changes the air flow from inside to outside or vice versa. And you just clean the screen once in a while. It works awesome, but I got rid of it when I moved into my last house. (Wifey's not too keen on all the junk accumulation so she makes me get rid of stuff that I KNOW I'll eventually need one day ;) ).

Those things in that link would work, but they are a PITA to clean out. And I don't have enough room around my dryer the way it's set up to use it. But thanks for the effort. I may have to speak to Fanboy about promoting you to Dept. of Energy Director. (or is that a promotion?)

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falconfootball (2/12/2008)

It is similar, but not exactly. I saw those, but they are more for rooms that do not have any venting to the outdoors. The device I used to have was a square box w/pipe fittings on either side. One side goes to the exit vent pipe, the other side goes to the dryer hose. Then it has one side of the cube that has a little screen on it. You flip a lever and it changes the air flow from inside to outside or vice versa. And you just clean the screen once in a while. It works awesome, but I got rid of it when I moved into my last house.

That does sound cool. Would probably be a pain to make one yourself (unless you have patience with fittings - I don't).
falconfootball (2/12/2008)

(Wifey's not too keen on all the junk accumulation so she makes me get rid of stuff that I KNOW I'll eventually need one day ;) ).

Lol...I used to try that, until the husband countered with "cleaning" my craft room (aka The Pit).
falconfootball (2/12/2008)

Those things in that link would work, but they are a PITA to clean out. And I don't have enough room around my dryer the way it's set up to use it. But thanks for the effort. I may have to speak to Fanboy about promoting you to Dept. of Energy Director. (or is that a promotion?)

Sweet!! We can just add it to my other responsibilities and satisfy my inner control freak. :D
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Fanboy3000 (2/12/2008)
falconfootball (2/12/2008)

But thanks for the effort. I may have to speak to Fanboy about promoting you to Dept. of Energy Director. (or is that a promotion?)

****************************************

I'm fairly busy with my First Mistresses right now. Can you get back to me in April?

I'll let it go for now as long as you ARE using recycled-cotton sheets.

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etifan (2/12/2008)
Fanboy3000 (2/12/2008)
falconfootball (2/12/2008)

But thanks for the effort. I may have to speak to Fanboy about promoting you to Dept. of Energy Director. (or is that a promotion?)

****************************************

I'm fairly busy with my First Mistresses right now. Can you get back to me in April?

I'll let it go for now as long as you ARE using recycled-cotton sheets.

I'm sure he is...they probably even come with Clinton's personal seal of approval...

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