Help the Environment and Save Money with Sustainable Energy
It doesn't have to be Earth Day for you to have a reason to get serious about sustainable energy. "There are smart things you can do to be sustainable — things that are practical, affordable, give a reasonable return on investment and improve your quality of life," says Dave Borowski, director of technical training for Direct Energy. Here are some easy tips he recommends to make your home greener and more energy-efficient:
- Control moisture. Many of the materials in your home — wood, leather, cotton and wool — are biodegradable. That means they can be decomposed by bacteria and other living organisms. Keeping your home's relative humidity between 30-50% strikes the right balance, preventing them from either drying out or rotting from excessive dampness.
- Make your fridge more efficient. It takes a lot of energy to cool air, but if you have a solid cold "mass" in your freezer, your refrigerator doesn't have to work as hard. Simple trick? Keep a gallon jug or two filled with water in the freezer -- once they freeze, your refrigerator will run its compressor less often.
- Plant shade trees outside. They'll shield your home from the sun's heat in summer, helping you save energy on air conditioning.
- Keep your air conditioning in peak condition. "Systems that are not maintained can lose up to 50% of their efficiency, wasting energy and costing you money," warns Borowski. Have a professional tune up your air conditioner and furnace annually. Be sure to ask the technician to do a "blower door test" to see if you have duct air leaks, a common cause of energy waste.
- Use power strips. Phone chargers, laptop chargers, DVD players, etc. can all draw power even when they're turned off. A power strip makes it easy to completely disconnect these devices when they're not in use.
- Ventilate your attic. It will help keep your ductwork cooler, boosting your air conditioner efficiency.
- Insulate your home. It's absolutely essential to HVAC energy efficiency -- high quality insulation is the most effective way to keep the air you treat inside.
- Install a hot water recirculating kit. It's an easy add-on product that gives you hot water as soon as you turn on the faucet or shower. "You're not only saving water, you're saving all the energy it takes to heat up that water," says Borowski.
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