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Energy usage is an unavoidable part of everyday life. But the choices we make when it comes to our energy habits can make all the difference for our environment and our daily lives.
What is Energy?
Simply put, energy is the ability to do work. There are two types of energy: stored, or potential energy, and working, or kinetic energy. Energy comes in many different forms, such as thermal, radiant and kinetic, electrical and chemical.
The Difference between Energy Efficiency and Energy Conservation
Energy efficiency and energy conservation are two different concepts that go hand in hand when it comes to using energy wisely.
Energy efficiency: Energy efficiency involves using less energy to perform daily functions. For example, energy-efficient lightbulbs and appliances use far less energy than older appliances or incandescent lightbulbs, making them an excellent choice for keeping energy usage in check.
Energy conservation: Energy conservation is directly related to our daily habits. Opening window blinds to let in warmth on a cold winter day is an example of a small action that results in less energy usage.
Renewable energy is energy that can easily be replenished, and it usually comes from a natural source. Renewable energy sources include hydropower energy from flowing water, solar energy from the sun, wind energy, biomass energy from plants and geothermal energy from the earth.
Nonrenewable energy sources cannot be easily replenished. Sources of nonrenewable energy include uranium, coal, natural gas and crude oil. These sources account for up to 90% of all the energy used in the United States each day. This just goes to show how important it is to form good habits and seek energy efficient solutions for our day-to-day activities.
Now that you’re getting settled in your new home, it’s time to start streamlining your energy efficiency. These 10 easy tips are not only environmentally friendly, they also have the potential to save you hundreds of dollars per year.
1. Invest in a programmable thermostat.
Thermostats with the latest technology can be controlled through a smartphone, giving you the ability to raise or lower the temperature when you’re away. Moderating your heat or air when your house is empty can save you up to 10% on your yearly electric bill.
2. Use your blinds and curtains wisely.
Keeping your shades closed on hot summer days and opened on cold winter days can make a surprising difference in your home’s overall temperature, lowering your need to blast your thermostat.
3. Switch to energy-efficient lightbulbs.
Even though they are more expensive, LED or compact fluorescent bulbs are 80% more efficient than traditional incandescent lightbulbs, and they can help you save big in the long-run.
4. Turn off lights and unplug appliances.
Turning off the lights when you’re not in a room is an age-old energy-saving trick that still holds up today. Also, keep in mind that some appliances use more “vampire energy,” or energy expended when not in use, than others. Make appliances with hard-to-reach outlets simple to unplug by connecting multiple units to a power strip.
5. Wash clothes in cold water.
Washing your clothing in cold water is typically better for fabrics and better for your wallet. This is especially true if you have a large family and need to do multiple loads of laundry a day to stay caught up.
6. Keep up with routine maintenance on your HVAC system.
During the hottest and coldest months of the year when energy bills are at an all-time high, it’s important to make sure that your HVAC system is in good working order. It’s a good idea to schedule a professional inspection each year and to change your system’s air filter every two to three months.
7. Reduce the temperature of your water heater.
Lower your water heater’s base temperature to between 120 and 130 degrees Fahrenheit to save both money and energy. There are also special wraps for your water heater that can help the tank retain heat.
8. Seal leaks and re-visit your home’s insulation options.
When is the last time your home had an insulation upgrade? Check for drafts around every window and door and have a professional inspect your attic’s insulation for efficiency. As a bonus, having a well-insulated home can extend the life of your roof and prevent costly repairs down the road.
9. Upgrade appliances.
If your home has outdated appliances, consider an upgrade. Newer dishwashers, dryers and water heaters, for example, are far more energy efficient, and you can even enjoy tax rebates on some new purchases.
10. Look for the Energy Star label.
Wondering if you’re making the best buying decision when it comes to home goods and appliances? Look for the Energy Star label, a government-mandated seal that denotes energy efficiency.
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