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For many decades, more than half of all residential energy use went to heating and cooling our homes. In recent years we've seen that number come down thanks to more efficient equipment, better insulation, more energy efficient windows and energy conservation minded customers. Yet, at the same time we've seen energy consumption for heating and cooling decline, energy use for appliances and electronics continues to rise, increasing the total amount of energy needed to meet residential electricity demand.
Considering all the devices that we use daily - computers, televisions, microwaves, appliances and more - it should come as no surprise that each of us is responsible for increased energy consumption. The United States represents 19% of the world's total energy consumption, and each person in the U.S. uses an average of 312 million British Thermal Units (BTU) of energy a year - equivalent to burning 312 million matches, or 850,000 matches every day. The U.S. isn't alone in increased energy use. World energy consumption, led by Asia, is estimated to increase by over 50 percent in the next three decades.
A BTU is a unit of measurement used to calculate energy consumption, with one BTU approximately equal to the amount of energy needed to burn one wooden match.
Our energy use is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide accumulating in the earth's atmosphere cause the earth to warm up, resulting in changes in climatic patterns. The environmental impact resulting from climate change is multi-faceted and can be seen in rising seas, temperature extremes, violent storms and more - all of which, in turn, affect how we produce, deliver and consume energy.
As your energy supplier, we have a special role to play in efforts to curb these potentially devastating climate effects. To this end, we have established Energy Savings Programs to help our customers begin to work with us on this important issue.
Together, we can help address the complex issues related to climate change and the increasing demand for energy through energy conservation, energy efficiency improvements and increased use of renewable energy. If we all play our part, we can ensure that future generations can enjoy clean air, reliable energy, and a healthy environment.
There are many easy ways to save energy and lower your monthly bills. Please read through the following tips.
If health permits, set your thermostat to 68°F when you're home during the day and 60°F at night and when you're away from home. For every degree you reduce the temperature below 70°F, you save 3% on your heating costs.
If you have a heat pump, remember that it needs to stay at a constant setting unless you have a programmable heat pump thermostat with adaptive recovery. Check with your heating or air conditioning contractor to determine the type of thermostat you have.
Winterize windows with weather stripping (for all moveable joints) and caulk (for non-moving parts). Also, install window insulation kits on the inside of your windows to help keep cold air out and warm air in.
Change filters once a month. A well-maintained heating system allows for improved efficiency and circulation.
Make sure your fireplace is airtight, otherwise you may be losing more heat than you are generating.
Inspect all ductwork for air leakage and use silver metal duct tape to seal any leaks. Air leakage is often responsible for up to 10% of home heating costs.
Regularly check your air conditioner's filter. A clean filter improves efficiency and air circulation.
Set your thermostat at 78°F, a comfortable and energy-efficient indoor temperature when you are home, and keep it warmer when you are away.
Have a professional check your air conditioning system to ensure that it works properly and is not leaking coolant.
Be sure all windows are shut and outside doors are closed when the air conditioning is on.
It is important not to have lamps, televisions or other heat sources close to the thermostat - heat from these sources may cause the air conditioner unit to run longer than it should.
Check to ensure that no furniture or other obstacles are blocking ducts or fans. This will enable cooled air to circulate freely, making your home more comfortable.
The water heater is the third highest energy expense in the average home. If the water temperature is set at 140°F, turning it down to 130°F will save a few dollars each month.
Install a programmable thermostat timed to automatically adjust the temperature when you are sleeping or away from home.
Using a microwave to cook meals consumes about half the energy of a conventional oven.
Washing clothes in cold instead of hot water can save you about $50 per year.
Another way to save energy in the laundry room is to put a dry towel in the dryer with each load of wet clothes - the towel will absorb dampness and reduce drying time, saving energy and money.
Starting in 2014, manufacturers will no longer be making incandescent bulbs. Replace any old incandescent light bulbs you may still be using with more efficient compact fluorescent and LED bulbs. LEDs use approximately 80% less energy than incandescent lights to produce the same amount of light.
If you have a crawl space, inspect it regularly to ensure that the insulation is dry. Be sure to find the source of any moisture and replace damaged insulation. When insulation gets wet, it isn't as effective.
Vacuum the coils on your refrigerator at least every three months. The build-up of dust makes the refrigerator work harder to keep its contents cool and, therefore, uses more energy.
Wash only full loads of laundry and dishes, and air dry when possible.
Use power strips to plug in your home electronics and switch the power strips off when these devices aren't being used - electronics consume energy even when in standby mode.
Always check to make sure windows and doors are shut before cooling or heating your home, and turn off all lights when you are not in the room.
Look for these recognized labels when shopping for energy efficient products: ENERGY STAR® on appliances, electronics, and light bulbs; EnergyGuide on home appliances; and Lighting Facts on light bulbs.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, household appliances account for about 13% of your home's total energy cost. When purchasing new appliances, it's important to consider not just the purchase price, but also the appliance's operating cost. The federal government now requires appliance manufacturers to display bright yellow and black EnergyGuide labels to help consumers calculate the full cost of each appliance. EnergyGuide contains key information such as yearly operating cost and yearly electricity consumption that can help you purchase the most energy efficient - and ultimately money-saving - appliance.
ENERGY STAR® is a set of energy efficiency standards originally established in 1992 by the Environmental Protection Agency to help consumers identify products that have superior energy efficiency. The ENERGY STAR® label is now used on everything from appliances to home heating and cooling equipment, home electronics to lighting and new homes. The label has become a highly respected badge of energy conservation. The program is credited with helping American consumers save $11.5 billion annually on utility bills, showing that energy efficiency is both environmentally and wallet-friendly.
The ENERGY STAR® label guarantees a product that meets, and usually exceeds, the minimum federal standards for efficiency and quality. For example, ENERGY STAR® washing machines use about 20% less energy than standard machines. So next time you're shopping for new appliances or electronics, installing a new water heather or HVAC unit, or thinking of doing some home improvements, look for the ENERGY STAR® label on certain products and materials - it's an easy way to save energy and save money.
Parents may be the ones paying the monthly utility bills, but kids can help reduce a homes energy consumption. Follow these energy saving tips so you can lower your energy use and begin protecting our planet:
When your phone is done charging, unplug your charger from the wall. The charger uses energy even when nothing is plugged into it.
Electronics are included in the ENERGY STAR® program. If you're hoping for a new computer, TV or speakers, make sure your parents know to look for the ENERGY STAR® label on these products.
Make sure to use the energy saving features on your computer. Putting your computer to sleep when you're not using it and shutting it down when you'll be away for a full day or two can save a lot of energy.
Always turn the lights off when you leave a room.
Talk to your friends and family about saving energy! Make sure they know energy conservation is an important issue that you care about.
Inefficient incandescent light bulbs are still used in 70% of sockets in the U.S. As of January 1, 2014 incandescent bulbs will no longer be manufactured. With the average household devoting 6% of its total energy use to lighting, replacing these traditional bulbs you may still be using with longer-lasting, energy efficient lighting is a quick way to start conserving energy.
Look for these popular energy efficient light bulbs at your local hardware store:
Halogen incandescent bulbs - last up to three times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs.
Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) - last up to 10 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs and can pay for themselves in energy savings in just nine months. Look for the ENERGY STAR® label.
Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) - use 75-80% less energy and have a lifespan up to 25 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs. Again, look for the ENERGY STAR® label.
Adding dimmers, timers, and motion sensors to your lighting fixtures can also go a long way towards reducing energy usage. And when possible, keep curtains and blinds open to allow natural daylight to do the lighting work for you.
The federal government now requires light blub packaging to include a Lighting Facts label allowing consumers to more accurately compare bulbs. These black and white labels, similar to the EnergyGuide labels on appliances, contain important information such as annual energy cost, lifespan, brightness, energy usage and light warmth to help you choose the most appropriate and cost-effective bulb for your home or business