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5 Ways to Creatively Save (Energy)

January 26, 2011

This guest post is written by Leon Harris of Southern States. If you would like to write a guest post for this site, then please visit guidelines and suggestions for guest posts at Ez DIY Electricity.

There’s no denying that we’re wasteful when it comes to energy. We’ve gotten so used to having it on hand that we practically lose the ability to function during a blackout. We leave lights and electronics on day and night (whether we’re using them or not) and we keep our homes at a constant temperature regardless of the climate outside (be it sweltering hundred-degree heat or below-zero blizzard). All of this contributes to massive energy consumption and an attendant utility bill that you dread every month. However, there are tons of ways to save when it comes to energy usage. By getting creative with cutting your electricity, you can help the planet and yourself. Here are a few ways to pull it off.

  1. Energy audit. Your local utility provider can probably send a technician to your house to perform this survey (although there are private companies, many of them also offer repairs, meaning your audit could be questionable). You’ll get a full report of problem areas that are leaking your bought air to the outside world. From there you can update or add insulation, install weather stripping, and seal any leaks to conserve more energy.
  2. Go old school. During the summer, or any time it’s warm outside, consider eschewing appliances in favor of the old ways. Hang laundry to dry on a line rather than throwing it in the dryer, and cook your dinner on the grill. Also, consider washing dishes by hand. A sink full of suds uses a lot less water and electricity. And of course, rely on the natural light provided by the sun whenever possible.
  3. Drop the drain. You may think that powering off your electronics means they stop drawing energy. In fact, they continue to suck up “vampire energy” and unless you unplug them, you’re going to pay for it. If you want to cut back on this phantom drain, simply keep electronics hooked up to a few power strips that you can easily unplug when not in use. As a side note, keep close watch on charging devices and detach them when charging is complete (to save on wasted electricity and keep your batteries going strong).
  4. Get a timer. Newer digital thermostats almost all come with a timer attached that allows you to input a turn-on and shut-off schedule for use. Simply set it to the “off mode” during the hours you’re absent from your home and then have the AC or heat kick back on about 30 minutes before you return (so that your house isn’t an extreme temperature when you walk in). If you’re home all day, set it to moderate while you sleep instead (since you don’t need a ton of heat if you’re cozy under the covers).
  5. Look for the energy-star label. You may think this energy-saving system only applies to lighting and appliances, but there are actually about 50 categories of products that conform to their standards (using at least 30% less energy). You could be saving on electronics (cordless phones, TVs, battery chargers), plumbing (water heaters), and even building materials (roofing, windows, doors), all of which are available from energy-star approved manufacturers. Check out the Energy Star website for more information on their products.

Leon Harris writes for Southern States, the quality name in high voltage switching. Whether you are in need of a high voltage disconnect switch, power fuses, or anything for your electrical power transmission and distribution needs, Southern States will tailor a custom solution for you.

Home Lighting Control Alliance Fact Sheet Educates Consumers and Home Technology Installers About Ways to Use Advanced Lighting Controls to Save Energy in the Home

December 15, 2008

HLCA living room lighting Warrenton, VA – November 17 – According to the Energy Conservation Enhancement Project at Louisiana State University, 20 percent of all electricity produced in the U.S. is used for lighting, but one-half of that is wasted by “inefficient lighting sources or careless consumers.”

Lighting controls can be used to reduce energy consumption in the home while enhancing the homeowner’s lifestyle and security, making lighting control a “green” technology that not only avoids sacrifice, but actually increases comfort—according to a new fact sheet published by the Home Lighting Control Alliance on its website, www.homelightingcontrol.org.

“Many people recognize the lifestyle benefits of lighting controls, but many remain unaware of how controls can be used to save energy,” says Seth Atkinson, head of corporate business development for LiteTouch, Inc. and chair of the Home Lighting Control Alliance’s Sustainability Committee. “Lighting controls, in fact, are the only element of a home’s lighting—and the only home automation subsystem—that reduces instead of adds to the monthly electric bill.”

The whitepaper outlines five ways lighting controls can be used to save energy, including automatically dimming the lights during use, taking advantage of sunlight, automatically turning off the lights when they are not in use, avoiding the use of lights when they’re not needed, and controlling the most efficient light sources.

Homeowners and home technology installers and dealers are invited to download this free fact sheet by visiting HLCA’s Learning Center at www.homelightingcontrol.org.

About the Home Lighting Control Alliance (HLCA)

The Home Lighting Control Alliance is a consortium of leading lighting control manufacturers, systems integrators and industry support organizations. Its sole purpose is to promote the awareness, value and benefits of lighting control in residential applications.

Members include AHA Design, CEA, CentraLite Systems, Control4, Echelon, EH Publishing, ETC, FulTech Solutions, HAI, Integrated Concepts, iLuxe innovation, Karen Proctor Electric, The KRUX Company, Lightolier Controls, LiteTouch, Pass & Seymour, Process Dealer Services Group, RL Johnson Construction, Savant Systems, S&S Electric, Somfy Systems, Square D/Clipsal, SST, Vantage Controls and Watt Stopper/Legrand.

SmartLabs, Inc. the world’s leading authority in home automation control and parent company to the Smarthome catalog and website, has joined Energy Star to meet consumer demand for more environmentally friendly choices

November 29, 2008

Smarthome, Inc. Irvine, Calif. – October 10th, 2008 – SmartLabs, Inc. the world’s leading authority in home automation control and parent company to the Smarthome catalog and website, has joined Energy Star to meet consumer demand for more environmentally friendly choices. Recognized by more than 60% of US consumers nationwide, ENERGY STAR works with over 12,000 public and private sector organizations that ensure energy efficient products and practices help to reduce high energy bills, improve comfort and help to protect the environment.

Saving consumers money on their electricity and protecting the environment has created the need for Energy Star product recognition, and Smarthome is adding more and more Energy Star products to their home automation lineup everyday. Since the beginning, Smarthome has been dedicated to offering consumers energy conscience items such as solar products, LED lighting solutions and power monitoring devices. SmartLabs also developed INSTEON home automation technology which provides customized control of lighting and appliances by creating a network of controlled devices and scenes that make life convenient, fun and energy efficient.

“Smarthome recognizes the need for all consumers to save money during these tough economic times and we have a deep company commitment to producing and selling products that save money, energy and our environment”, says Laurie Maroni, VP of Marketing for Smarthome. That commitment will continue to grow through the distribution of products labeled with a globally recognizable Energy Star tag, giving consumers greater control of their expenses and environmental impact through the use of energy efficient products.

Since the first catalog was mailed out in 1992, Smarthome’s goal has been to offer homeowners and contractors the widest selection of affordable electronic home improvement and automation products that are safe, easy, fun and energy efficient. Over the years, Smarthome has grown from a distributor of technical products to one of the world’s largest home automation retailers, becoming a single, easy-to-use source for thousands of affordable lighting, security, and home entertainment products that the average do-it-yourselfer can safely install.

For more information:
www.smarthome.com
www.INSTEON.net

Contact:
SmartLabs, Inc.
Meredith Pleasant, 949-252-6962
pr@smartlabsinc.com

How To Save Power At Home

November 9, 2008

Create solar and wind energy and reduce your power bill today We all learned about the renewable and non-renewable sources of energy in school. However, we never paid much attention to the rapid consumption of the non-renewable sources of energy until recently. The world is faced with severe energy crisis now and none of us remain unaffected anymore. Should we leave everything to the governments, or can we do something to save power? The answer is simple: we can.

Let us look at how you can save power at home.

Computers: More often than not, we do not turn off our monitors even after we have shut down our computers. Keep the monitor and the computer turned off when you are not using them. Start practicing this even when at work. You will help save some more power for the world.

Light bulbs: You must have seen compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs being advertised all the time. You must have even used them at times. As a power-saving measure, start using the CFL light bulbs as much as you can. If you are thinking they are more expensive than the regular bulbs, the benefits of the CFL bulbs will prove much more cost-effective in the long turn by the amount of power they will save.

Lighting Fixtures: In addition to using energy saving light bulbs, turn off the lights when they are not being used. Yes, there is a surge in energy by turning the lights on and off. However, if you are going to be out of the room for 10 minutes or more, then you will save more money and energy by turning off the lights.

Air Conditioners: Set the thermostat to the minimum or maximum temperature you are comfortable with, depending on the season. Try not to set it at too high or too low temperatures. Setting the air conditioner at reasonable temperatures helps save a lot of energy.

Washing Machines: Do you use your washing machine even when there are not enough clothes to wash? Minimize the number of washes by washing full loads of clothes every time.

TVs, Stereos and other electronic appliances: These are energy hogs. Most of these appliances use power even when they are turned off by operating a clock or some other memory device. I recommend using a surge strip for these appliances and turn off the surge strip when you are not using these appliances. This may not sound like a big deal but this tiny step will help save power.

Refrigerators: Bring hot food to room temperatures before putting it into the refrigerator. You can also save power by taking cold or frozen food out of the refrigerator much before the mealtime, thereby saving power in heating it.

Dishwashers: Minimize the number of washes by washing full load of dishes every time.

Heating Systems: Keep your thermostat set at 68 degrees. You can save as much as 1 percent for every degree you lower your thermostat. When you are asleep or out of the house, turn your thermostat back 10°–15° for eight hours and save around 10% a year on your heating and cooling bills.

Water Heaters: Turn down the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting (120°F). You’ll not only save energy, you’ll avoid scalding your hands.

Make power at home with solar and wind energy to eliminate your power bill. Get our complete guide at www.earth4energy.com

Energy Saving Light Bulbs: CFL verses LED

October 28, 2008

CFL vs. LED Homeowners today are shifting towards more cost efficient and eco-friendly solutions for managing energy consumption in their homes. Proper lighting improves the appearance and safety of a home both inside and out, yet it can also account for nearly 25% of a home’s electricity. Most people don’t realize that the standard incandescent bulbs they’ve been using for years are only 10% efficient; meaning only 10% of the electricity they use is transferred into light and the rest into heat! Fortunately, the push for a greener way of life has brought rise to two major alternative options for standard incandescent light bulbs: the compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL) and a light emitting diode light bulb (LED). Knowing what to look for and the difference between the two will help the average consumer save energy dollars each month.

CFL Lighting
As a replacement for your average screw in light bulb, CFL bulbs are an excellent option. In simplest terms, CFLs are a miniature version of the common fluorescent light, using an electrical current to make phosphor gas glow. Older CFLs use magnetic ballasts which usually cause a delay and/or flicker when they are turned on, however most new CFLs use electronic ballasts that eliminate this. When compared to incandescent bulbs, CFLs are approximately four times as efficient; a 25 Watt CFL will have the same light output as a 100 Watt incandescent. They also last up to 10 times longer, meaning that over the life of a standard CFL, you would expect to have used 10 incandescent bulbs. Unlike a regular fluorescent light, a CFL gives off light that looks just like a standard incandescent.

Choosing the bulb design that best suits the application is also a factor; available form factors include spiral, triple tube, standard, globe, flood and candelabra style bulbs to name a few. While the purchase price of a CFL is typically 3 to 10 times greater than that of an equivalent incandescent bulb, over the lifespan of the bulb you can expect a large return on energy savings (see comparison chart below). Continuously turning a CFL bulb on and off, or exposure to outdoor elements, can reduce the expected life span, so consider where you will be using them. While dimmable CFLs and CFLs that can be used with timers are available, they may not always work with dimmer switches, dimmer modules, or timers. Lastly, CFL bulbs contain trace amounts of mercury which is a toxic metal, and although they can be disposed of in your regular trash, caution should be taken if a bulb is broken in your home.

LED Lighting
Recently, advances in technology have given rise to LED lighting as a replacement for the traditional incandescent bulb. LEDS are small, solid light bulbs which drive their light in one direction or in cones of varying width depending on the bulb design. Traditionally this type of directional lighting has been used for task lighting, flashlights and headlamps. However, grouping these light in clusters and applying new designs have led to the LED as an extremely energy efficient replacement for the standard incandescent bulb. A LED style bulb will generally last approximately 100 times as long as an incandescent; meaning that over the life of a standard LED style bulb, you would expect to have used 100 incandescent bulbs! When compared to incandescent bulbs, LEDs are approximately six times as efficient; in simplest terms a 16 Watt LED style bulb will have the same light output as a 100 Watt incandescent.

A LED style bulb can be upward of 50 to 100 times the cost of standard incandescent bulb (although costs continue to drop), but you can expect a large return on your investment do to the lifespan and energy savings when compared to an incandescent bulb (see comparison chart below). Another great feature of LED style bulbs are their durability; because they don’t have a filament they can withstand jarring and bumping making them less likely to be damaged under circumstances when a regular incandescent bulb would be broken. When used with a dimmer, LED bulbs can brighten and dim fairly consistently from 30% brightness up. They will also work well with most timers. On the low end, instead of going completely off, LEDs tend to exhibit a slight glow due to the small amount of current that LEDs require to illuminate. Because this type of alternative lighting is still at the beginning stages, you can expect the capabilities of LED style bulbs to grow.

Understanding Lumens
When replacing a standard incandescent bulb with a CFL or an LED as an alternative, one of the most important factors to understand is lumens. A lumen is a measurement of how many foot-candles of light a bulb puts out in a square foot of area… or in laymen’s terms, how bright a bulb is. Many CFL and LED bulbs are misleading, whether intentional or unintentional, when describing the bulbs they replace. If you want a CFL or and LED bulb to replace your existing incandescent, make sure that the lumens match up.

Comparison Chart

Bulb Type Lumens Watts Investment Consumption Energy Cost Total Cost
Incandescent 1600 100 $100.00 10000 kWh $1,000.00 $1,100.00
CFL 1600 25 $100.00 2500 kWh $250.00 $350.00
LED 1600 15 $100.00 1500 kWh $150.00 $250.00

 

Investment based on:

  • Incandescent: $1.00 per bulb x 100 bulbs to equal the lifespan of one LED style bulb
  • CFL: $10.00 per bulb x 10 bulbs to equal the lifespan of one LED style bulb
  • LED: $100.00 per bulb equal to 100,000 hour lifespan

Consumption based on:

  • Kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy used over the course of 100,000 hours

Energy Cost based on:

  • 10 cents per kWh average fee from utility company

Synopsis
Incandescent bulbs still make up a majority of the light bulbs in homes today, but as more people become energy and environmentally conscious, both the CFL and the LED bulbs are well suited alternatives. Over the long term an LED style bulb will save you the most money although the initial cost may seem high. The good news is that LED bulbs last for 10 years or more. The CFL bulb will save you nearly as much as an LED style Bulb with a fraction of the investment. Consider the placement and how you will be using each of your bulbs and a combination of the two alternatives will be rewarding over the long haul, not just in your pocket book but also for the planet.

FACT: If every home in America replaced just one incandescent light bulb with an ENERGY STAR qualified CFL, in one year it would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes. That would prevent the release of greenhouse gas emissions equal to that of about 800,000 cars. Saving electricity reduces CO2 emissions, sulfur oxide and high-level nuclear waste.


Click here to purchase CFLs

Click here to purchase LEDs

 

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