Saving Money and Going Even More Green
In today’s energy markets, debate and innovation reign supreme. As the time of peak oil quickly fades into the proverbial rear view mirror, deep sea drilling and ever-more dangerous and less efficient means of discovering new deposits of oil reserves become the norm.
Discussions over natural gas and how to effectively and safely bring that material from the ground and into the energy supply abound. Dirty coal as the new clean energy, solar panel and solar power capacity, wind power and more — the talk of the day is energy efficiency, from the government all the way down to the ordinary citizen, staring dumbfounded at an ever-rising power bill.
So what can you do to save more money and increase the energy efficiency of your home and or office? It’s a difficult but terribly important question to ask yourself.
Of course, doing some sort of home or business audit to gauge where you use the most energy, and where your family or colleagues can cut costs is an excellent starting point. Consider total water usage, heat usage during colder winter months, what kind of lights are used throughout the space, and how many appliances might be plugged in to the wall outlets at any given time. Paper printing, ink use, and other such considerations might be more pertinent to the office environment, and should also be considered.
Waste treatment is another thing to think about — do you recycle? Compost? Or does everything merely end up in the trash can, with little regard for the environment? Sometimes, simple shifts in workforce or family thinking can go a long way to making over your attitudes toward increased energy efficiency.
Consider the following elements:
Effective Insulation — When you have properly installed insulation material in every wall and floor in the building, including spaces like the attic if there is one, you have taken a very necessary step towards greater efficiency. You consume less energy throughout every season, because your home does a better job of keeping warm in the winter, and cool in the summer, reacting less to the outside temperatures. And that says nothing about increased personal comfort through the seasons, too.
High-Performance Windows are another of the Energy Star checklist of home or office improvements. Basically, you’re thinking about every possible avenue through which energy can leave your house or building, all too easily. With double-paned windows, for example, more of the heat or cool air created inside the home is kept there, rather than escaping through old, less efficient windows. Protective coatings, better frames, plantation shutters for windows, and other advanced technologies, create an infinitely greater source of energy savings for your home.
Tight Construction and Ducts — think of your home or office building like it’s a plastic container, or a mail envelope. How many holes are there in that envelope? Beyond the walls, attic and windows, think about the air conditioning system, duct work, and exactly what’s at play behind the walls, where the inside space of your home is directly connected through channels to the outside environment, where energy can escape before it’s been put to maximum use. Efficient heating and cooling equipment can be addressed during this phase of your audit, as well.
Lighting and Appliances — Think about the lights in the places where you work and live. CFLs, fans, kitchen appliances, bathroom appliances, etc., all things in use in terms of electrical consumption are targets for greater energy efficiency. Every one of these applicances, from the light bulbs to the copy machine, has a twin version that has been created almost exclusively for maximum energy efficiency. Take advantage whenever and however you can.
According to the U.S. government’s webiste, “ENERGY STAR qualified homes achieve energy savings through established, reliable building technologies. Builders work with Home Energy Raters to select from a number of features when planning and building homes.” There’s so much out there to learn — for instance, did you know that there was such a thing as an energy efficient mortgage?
In the UK, there are sites like MoneySupermarket.com that allow you to compare gas and electricity prices, which is a fundamental part of becoming energy efficient, beginning with education and analysis, and continuing on to considered action. With a special section dedicated to helping consumers learn more about and compare cheap energy prices and suppliers, MoneySupermarket is an excellent place to find information and assistance on lowering gas and electric bills.[Photo Via: energystar.gov]