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WNY GOING GREEN: CONSERVING ENERGY

Friday, 01.28.2011 / 2:35 PM / Blue & Gold Make Green
By Michael Jafari  - Graduate Assistant (2010)
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WNY GOING GREEN: CONSERVING ENERGY
It may be cold outside, but there are ways you can stay warm and conserve energy at the same time.

According to the US Department of Energy, the average American spends $1,900 every year on energy bills and one-third of it goes toward heating their home.  By taking action to reduce the energy used at your house, you can decrease your carbon dioxide emissions by hundreds to thousands of pounds.

One of the most efficient ways to conserve your energy use around the house is by sealing your doors and windows.  If you find cracks or leaks along the frames of your windows and doors, cold air could be seeping through.  When cold air enters your home, your furnace will use more energy to produce more heat throughout your home.  Other places where cold air could come from include electrical outlets, switch plates, baseboards, fireplace dampers, attic hatches, and wall or window-mounted air conditioners. 

By reducing the drafts at your home, the US Department of Energy speculates that you could save energy in your home by 5%-30% and also live in a more comfortable environment.  You can properly handle these drafts by either hiring a professional or doing it yourself.  You can seal them by purchasing window insulation; heat and air deflectors for walls, floors and ceilings; door and window weatherstripping; and electric switch plate sealers from your local hardware store.

Another way you can conserve energy is by turning off your electronic devices when they are not in use.  An example is unplugging power strips, computers, phone chargers, televisions, and DVD players.  Some of these electronics may be in stand-by mode, but they can still account for 5-10% energy usage.  Turning off these electronics is a simple yet sufficient way to conserve energy.

There is another way to save energy in the winter and that’s by turning on your ceiling fans.  It may sound a little odd, but fans are a great way to circulate warm air in your house.  Most ceiling fans are built with a reversal switch that can change the direction of the fan blades. By flipping the switch and setting it on low power, you can push the warm air that is trapped from the ceiling and push it down into other areas of your home.  If your fan has the ability to change direction, then this unfamiliar method can make your family more comfortable at home.

Another way to conserve energy is by changing your lights to energy-saving compact fluorescent lights (CFL).  A study conducted by the US Department of Energy suggests that replacing ten 60-watt light bulbs with 13-watt CFL bulbs can save you $420 over the life of the bulbs, which is an equal amount of energy to operate an ENERGY STAR qualified refrigerator for nine years.

By using CFL bulbs, you are using less energy to light the room, which means you are also exposing less mercury content into the air and water.  In addition, CFL lights can also be recycled after they are used up. You can find your more information on recycling CFL bulbs by browsing: http://epa.gov/cfl//cflrecycling.html or http://earth911.org.

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