Be Green, Save Green: Energy Efficient Quick Fixes for your Home
Whether you are building, remodeling or just doing some simple updates to your home, there are some easy ways to help the environment - and save money.
Several inexpensive products on the market today can reduce your energy consumption.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy's energystar.gov Web site, lighting accounts for about 20 percent of the electric bill in the average U.S. home. Changing out one incandescent bulb for a compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) can save $30 or more in energy costs over the life of just one bulb. CFLs use about 75 percent less energy and can last up to 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs. They come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and wattages for both indoor and outdoor use.
If every American home replaced just one incandescent bulb with an ENERGY STAR qualified bulb, we would save enough energy to light over three million homes for a year (that is more than $600 million in annual energy costs), and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of more than 800,000 cars (source: energystar.gov).
Light emitting diode, or LED, lighting is also becoming more widely available and is highly energy efficient. Some LED bulbs can be screwed into existing light fixtures. LED strips can be recessed into the ceiling or used to spotlight areas of your home. LEDs can also be mounted under the edges of bathroom vanities and along staircases for highly efficient night lighting. Installing LED strips or track lights require a little more effort than just screwing in a bulb but the energy savings will be worth it.
The average household spends more than $2,000 a year on energy bills, nearly half of which goes to heating and cooling. Improve the performance of your heating and cooling system by having it serviced annually by a licensed contractor, and cleaning or replacing air filters regularly.
Using a programmable thermostat in your home is another easy way you can save energy and money. A programmable thermostat helps make it easy for you to save by offering pre-programmed settings to regulate your home's temperature during different seasons, or when you are asleep or away.
Homeowners can save about $180 a year by properly setting their programmable thermostats and maintaining those settings. The pre-programmed settings that come with Energy Star qualified programmable thermostats are intended to deliver savings without sacrificing comfort. The key is to establish a program that automatically reduces heating and cooling in your home when you don't need as much.
Mercury thermostats, CFLs and standard fluorescent lamps should never be disposed of in the trash. Residents in the Northland can dispose of these items for free at the Western Lake Superior Sanitary District's Household Hazardous Waste Facility in Duluth. For more energy saving ideas for your home, go to energystar.gov.
Lorilee Blais is an Environmental Program Coordinator at the Western Lake Superior Sanitary District.