I could not be happier that the weekend is here. Even though I've been in the city since Monday morning, I've been furiously working all week (with the exception of some fun evenings which I'll be sharing next week!) so I'm really ready for this day to fly by so I can have some free time to actually enjoy New York!
In the meantime, I've got a very special guest poster for you today--my husband Cameron!!
That's right, it's his blogging debut here at In the Pink and Green!
When I ran the idea of guest posting by him before I went out of town, he was a
lot little hesitant at first. But thankfully he decided to go ahead and do it (and had so much fun...right Cam?) and when he sent me his finished post, I was like "Wow, this is awesome!" And I'm not just saying that because I'm his wife, its really has lots of helpful info, and he's also a great writer (I have to brag on him a little bit!). This whole concept of Eco-Friendly Friday was inspired by him in the first place because he really strives to make sure our home is as green as possible, so it's perfect that's what he's talking about today. When I was trying to decide specifically what topic he should touch on I immediately thought of energy because it's something he knows a lot about (he has his Master's in Energy Systems Engineering<--smarty pants!). I know you're going to enjoy what he's put together for you...take it away hubby!
Hello everyone- as you know, Jane is back east in NYC and so she has asked me to make my first guest-post appearance for Eco-Friendly Friday #3. I’ve been given explicit instruction to not “be boring” and she may have been right to worry- when I started outlining this post I realized it was going to take pages and pages to get out what I originally wanted to. So I decided to boil it down to two simple energy saving rules:
1. Use energy only WHEN and WHERE you need it.
2. Stop wasting energy when and where you DON’T!
You’ll see how this applies in a few specific areas in a second, but if you just keep these in mind when you look around your home you’ll begin to see how you can make a difference.
Residential buildings account for about 22% of energy consumption in the US. Unless you work from home, you really don’t spend many waking hours there, so that means that a huge fraction of your energy use is being wasted at your house while you aren’t there or are asleep! It is important to know where energy is used to know where you can save, so below is a pie-chart of home energy usage, and I will break down my tips by segment.
Space Heating- 45%
By far, the biggest area of energy use in your home is heating the air inside it.
Ain’t no way around it- the biggest impact you can make to reduce your heating energy use is to turn down the thermostat! Put on the sweatpants and set a new ‘normal’ inside temperature. When Jane and I lived in South Carolina, it seems like we would always fight over the temperature in the winter (she wanted 72, I wanted 65) and she would always swear she was freezing to death. Fast-forward to the present, and here at the top of the mountain in Tahoe and our house with only a gas stove to keep us warm, and its regularly in the 50’s when we get up in the morning. I’m not saying its always pleasant, but hey, we’ve gotten used to it, so its not impossible.
Central forced-air heating is a great example of using energy exactly where you don’t need it- what you really want to keep warm is you, not the air in every corner of your house. To best use energy where you need it, you can keep doors and vents closed to areas of the house which you don’t spend much time in. We have a spare bedroom that stays really cold, but my bicycle and filing cabinet don’t seem to mind (and in fact its a great cellar temperature to keep wine in!) But, make sure to keep doors open to areas you do use, so that heat can evenly distribute where you want it to. If you happen to be heating with an electric furnace (an expensive way to heat) you might consider using small electric radiators to heat specific areas when and where you use them instead, while letting the rest of the house stay cool. We use one in our bedroom, mostly because our gas stove doesn’t throw much heat to the back of the house, but its more than enough to keep us warm at night.
Of course you never need to heat the outdoors, so take some steps to keep it inside. If you own your home, spend time getting insulation into every nook and cranny that you can, and make sure to seal any holes or cracks to the outside. Even if you rent, you can use adhesive weather stripping to fill gaps in door and window frames to block air from getting through the cracks. If you have large or inefficient windows, you can also use clear plastic window wrap to keep the cold out.
Okay, the big one is out of the way, so here are just a few tips in the other areas.
Water Heating - 18%
This area might surprise you- about a fifth of your home energy use is used just to keep water hot. All day, every day, that water heater is sucking energy to keep water warm so you can have a nice hot shower- thats a lot of energy being wasted when and where you don’t need it. The first step is obviously don’t waste it; leaving the sink running, taking an extra long shower, filling up the tub for your nightly bath; energy literally goes down the drain every time you use hot water, so just keep that in mind!
Again, there are couple of things you can change around your house to help keep you energy use down. You can insulate your water heater to reduce heat waste, or turn down the temperature on your water heater so its not trying to keep the water too warm (if your water is scalding hot at your tap, this would be a good step to take.)
Lighting is probably the easiest area to use energy only when and where you need it. Obviously, turn lights off when you aren’t using them- hallways, extra rooms, bathrooms- just remember to hit the switch. Next, embrace “task lighting” or utilizing lamps to light up the space you need it (your desk, your bed, etc) without lighting up the whole room. Using a single bulb right where you need tit will provide better lighting than overhead lights anyway.
The standard incandescent lightbulb wastes about 90% of the energy it consumes as heat, not light. Other bulb types have their problems too, CFLs are much more efficient, but contain mercury so they must be disposed of correctly (check with your local garbage disposal company). LEDs are super efficient and last a long time, but are currently very expensive. Until the cost comes down on LEDs, CFLs might be the best option- make sure to check with your electricity provider, sometimes they will send you a box for free!
Air conditioning- 9-11%
Air conditioning is actually a lot more efficient than heating in most cases, but it still takes a ton of energy to keep your house cool. As with heating, changing your thermostat just a few degrees can make a difference. Also, sun shining through the windows can heat up a space very quickly, so utilize blinds or shades as much as possible. Taking it a step further, you can plant a leafy tree outside your windows; the leaves will keep sun out in the summer, but when they fall off in the winter, sun can shine in your windows to heat your house! Of course, when the sun goes down, open up those windows and let the night air cool off your house.
Electronics, refrigeration, and other appliances - 15+%
The biggest thing to know about appliances is even when you aren’t using them- they still draw power. In some cases, lots and lots of power. The converters we use for computers, cell phones, and other electronics are some of the worst offenders. A friend of mine measured the power draw of his computer power cord while the computer was plugged in versus when just the cord was plugged in- thats right, the power converter drew more energy by itself than the computer did. The point here is, the only way to make sure that your appliances aren’t drawing power (when and where you don’t need it), is by unplugging them. If its something you use on a regular basis, use a power strip with an on/off switch.
Well, I could go on, but by the time you see this I’m sure Jane will have edited it down. Thats the funny thing about engineers- in person you can’t get two words out them, but give them a keyboard and watch out! Take care everyone.
See, I told you he was smart!
(He even included a pie chart in his post...classic Cam)
I hope that his suggestions are things that you can try out in your own home, and I'm so glad that he took the time to stop by and guest post today...love you hubs!
Make sure y'all leave him some comment love too, because I'll definitely read them to him! :)
That's all for me today, I hope that everyone has a fabulous weekend and a fun, safe St. Patty's Day! Xoxo