Reduce Energy Costs – and Global Warming
6 Easy Ways to Cut Air Pollution
In 2001, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change put an end to the global warming debate by demonstrating that human-made greenhouse gas emissions are responsible for most, if not all, of the 1.1°F rise in the average global temperature last century and the rapidly increasing rate of warming. Because the production of electricity in fossil fuel-fired power plants accounts for 42% of our greenhouse gas emissions however, we have the power to reduce hazardous air pollution and minimize global warming – with simple, cost-effective energy saving strategies.
1. Replace your 5 most-used light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs).
Advances in CFLs
- Now as inexpensive as $2 apiece, and use 75% less electricity than incandescent bulbs.
- Produce the same “warm” light as incandescents. Also available as three-way, dimmable, high wattage bulbs, and floodlights.
- Standard sizes fit household fixtures and lamps. Available where incandescent bulbs are sold.
Savings for Five CFLs 1
- Average annual savings of $64.80 on electric bill; $236.80 over the bulbs’ lifetime.
- 100-watt bulbs cost as little as $4 apiece. 5 bulbs pay for themselves in energy savings in 4 months.
- Last 6,000 to 10,000 hours each – up to 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs.
Environmental Value 2
- Annually, 5 bulbs will prevent release of 1240 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere – the leading cause of global warming.
- Over their lifetime, they will prevent the release of 5660 pounds of CO2, or the equivalent of what the average person emits for personal transportation over the course of two and a half years.3
- Reduces reliance on dangerous and aging nuclear plants, aiding the transition to clean, renewable energy.
2. Gain efficiency with your water heating.
- 11% of the average residential energy bill is for heating water.
- Setting water heater at 120°F prevents bacteria buildup and provides ample hot water.
- Insulating jackets found in hardware stores can cut 15% off the cost of heating water.
- Wash clothes in cold or warm water.
- Install low-flow shower heads. These cost $4-12 at hardware stores, install in minutes with only a wrench, and provide an even, comfortable flow.
- Together these measures can prevent the release of 800 lbs. of CO2 every year.
3. Install a programmable thermostat for heating and cooling.
- 45% of average home energy costs are for heating and cooling.
- Programmable thermostats cost $30 to $100, install easily, and have a payback of 4 to 12 months.
- Thermostat can cut back heating and cooling units when not needed, and automatically return the home to a comfortable temperature before you wake up or return.
- In winter, set your programmable thermostat to 68° while heat is needed, and 58/60° when away or asleep.
- In summer, program your thermostat to remain off while away, cooling your home to 78° right before you return.
- Use ceiling fans to reduce the need for heating and cooling.
- Clean or replace air filters regularly to ensure efficient energy use.
4. Phase in energy efficient electronics and appliances as you replace older models.
- Energy Star models use at least 15% less electricity than the federal efficiency requirement.
- Available in more than 40 categories, including washing machines, dishwashers, and televisions.
- Overall, Energy Star products can save 30% on your annual power bill.
- Monthly savings help pay for the modest additional cost of Energy Star products. After payback, continued savings means money in your pocket.
5. Get an energy audit from a local contractor or your utility company.
- An auditor will examine your home to determine areas of inefficiency and advise you on how to reduce energy waste, improve comfort and lower power bills by adding or replacing weather stripping, improving insulation, plugging air leaks, etc.
- An auditor can explain how carefully positioned trees and plants can save up to 25% of energy consumption for heating and cooling.
- Energy audits quickly pay for themselves with these and other saving measures.
6. Be mindful of your energy consumption and eliminate wasteful practices.
- Using the “energy saver” setting on dishwashers (letting dishes drip-dry), and running only when full, can prevent 200 pounds of CO2 every year.
- Don’t light empty space except for genuine security needs. Burning two 75-watt light bulbs for four fewer hours daily saves $17.52 and prevents release of 339 pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere each year.
- A typical computer uses 70 to 150 watts (including screen savers). Turn it off when not in use (this will not shorten your computer’s life). Next best is to adjust power setting so it goes into standby or “sleep” mode. Standby can save $70 and prevent the release of 900 pounds of CO2 each year.
- Dry laundry on a clothesline or indoor drying rack.
- Each degree adjustment on heating and cooling can save 1% on your energy bill.
- Paying attention to when and how you use electricity helps you reduce greenhouse emissions and improve air quality.
1. Based on replacing 100-watt incandescent bulbs with 26-watt CFLs, used 6 hours a day @ $0.08 per kWh.
2. Varies depending on source of energy generation; numbers based on average of 1.55 lbs. CO2 per kWh.
3. The U.S. EPA reports 2300 pounds of CO2 emissions per person per year for personal transportation.