If you have children, I am sure you have found that their curiosity has no bounds. I have a four year old little girl who is very curious about everything, wanting to know where water comes from, why there are ant cities, why don’t butterflies sting and how do lights turn on.
Efficiency comes in all forms, but since energy is close to my heart I inevitably try to explain to her what energy is and why we need to use it wisely. The easiest way to show her how we do our part in reducing our carbon footprint was to show her the difference between the incandescent light bulbs in our home and the energy efficient fluorescent light bulbs when we are changing them out with. While we do this, she of course asks me questions
How does that save us energy?
Why do we want to save energy?
Why is that light so bright?
Do I get a toy because you saved money?
All very good questions of course.
When it comes to electricity, many power customers don’t know that the primary power users are residential customers. When we leave our homes or apartments, we leave our lights on when we don’t need to, we run our AC to cool empty rooms, and forget to turn off our TVs and unplug our computers. Did you know that by turning off your lights before you leave, programming your thermostat to cool only when you are home and utilizing power strips to shut off idling electronics, you could put money back into your pocket and reduce your carbon footprint? Even replacing old incandescent lighting for more energy efficient fluorescent lighting can save you $40 in electricity costs over the life of each bulb while using 75% less energy and lasting up to 10 times longer. Now that is thinking green!
There are many other ways to reduce energy besides changing out your light bulbs.
Check out this top10 List of Ways to Reduce Your Everyday Energy Use from PowerScorecard:
1. Check your refrigerator.
Refrigerators account for about 20% of Household electricity use. Use a thermometer to set your refrigerator temperature as close to 37 degrees and your freezer as close to 3 degrees as possible.
2. Set clothes washer to warm or cold water.
Switching from hot to warm for two loads per week can save nearly 500 pounds of CO2 per year if you have an electric water heater, or 150 pounds for a gas heater.
3. Set your dishwasher to air dry.
By running your dishwasher while it is full and air drying instead of using the heat drying cycle, you can save 20 percent of your dishwasher’s total electricity use.
4. Turn down your water heater thermostat.
Thermostats are often set to 140 degrees F when 120 is usually fine. Each 10 degree reduction saves 600 pounds of CO2 per year for an electric water heater, or 440 pounds for a gas heater. If every household turned its water heater thermostat down 20 degrees, we could prevent more than 45 million tons of annual CO2 emissions – the same amount emitted by the entire nations of Kuwait or Libya.
5. Insulate your walls and ceilings.
This can save 20 to 30 percent of home heating bills and reduce CO2 emissions by 140 to 2100 pounds per year. If you live in a colder climate, consider superinsulating. That can save 5.5 tons of CO2 per year for gas-heated homes, 8.8 tons per year for oil heat, or 23 tons per year for electric heat. (If you have electric heat, you might also consider switching to more efficient gas or oil.)
6. Wrap your water heater in an insulating jacket.
Costing approximately$10 to $20, this inexpensive improvement It can save 1100 lbs. of CO2 per year for an electric water heater, or 220 pounds for a gas heater.
7. Use less water by installing low-flow shower heads.
They cost just $10 to $20 each, deliver an invigorating shower, and save 300 pounds of CO2 per year for electrically heated water, or 80 pounds for gas-heated water.
8. Program your thermostat for efficiency.
Be careful not to overheat or overcool rooms. In the winter, set your thermostat at 68 degrees in daytime, and 55 degrees at night. In the summer, keep it at 78. Lowering your thermostat just two degrees during winter saves 6 percent of heating-related CO2 emissions. That’s a reduction of 420 pounds of CO2 per year for a typical home.
9. Weatherize your home or apartment.
Use caulk and weather stripping to plug air leaks around doors and windows. Caulking costs less than $1 per window, and weather stripping is under $10 per door. These steps can save up to 1100 pounds of CO2 per year for a typical home. Ask your utility company for a home energy audit to find out where your home is poorly insulated or energy inefficient. This service may be provided free or at low cost. Make sure it includes a check of your furnace and air conditioning.
10. Clean or replace your air conditioner’s filter monthly.
By doing this, you reduce your cooling costs and help your unit run more efficiently.
Having trouble getting your kids interested in energy efficiency? Check out these youth oriented websites designed to teach your child about energy efficiency and how they can make a positive impact on their environment