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Mar 19, 2009

Save Water, Energy, and Money by making a few quick fixes around the house.  Check out our latest blog for tips on saving our resources!

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Posted: Mar 19, 2009 10:47am
Jan 29, 2009

Ensure that your computer doesn't work overtime and waste electricity with these simple steps. Get rid of your screensaver, shut off your monitor and plug into a smarter power strip to save energy, money and prevent pollution from power plants.

Set Sleep Mode

Check your computer's settings and activate "sleep mode." Setting your computer to go to sleep after a few minutes of inactivity will save power and the battery if you're using a laptop. Shutting down an inactive monitor and processor can save you up to $50 a year and cut energy use by more than 90 percent. Mac users can find energy saving settings under System Preferences in the Apple menu and adjust the sleep time. Windows users will find power management in the control panel. Windows users may want to opt for operating system Vista's "hibernate" mode over sleep, because it rests the computer in a way that doesn't require you to reload everything when you switch it back on.

Get Rid of the Screen Saver

After configuring your sleep settings, take a look at your monitor. Are you using a screen saver? Those flying toasters use as much energy as leaving the computer on. With older monitors, static images would get "burned" onto the screen after a while, hence the term "screen saver" but that's no longer an issue with today's monitors. Set your computer to go to sleep or to hibernate instead.

Shut off the Monitor

Monitors typically uses more energy than the computer's hard drive. Remember to turn the monitor off when you're not using your computer. And speaking of flying toasters, if your monitor is as old as that screen saver, it might be time to consider replacing it. Older glass CRT monitors suck up more electricity than flat panel LCD screens. LCDs not only save tons of desk space and ease your eyestrain, but they also use two-thirds less power than CRT monitors. As always, look for the Energy Star label when purchasing any home or office electronics and don't throw electronics out with the trash. Monitors contain lead and should be properly disposed of.

Plug Into a Smarter Power Strip

Consider the blinking lights of the rest of the gadgets on your desk: your printer, fax machine, CD burner, external hard drive, MP3 player and any other device that is plugged into your computer. Plugging all those peripherals into a single power strip lets you turn them all off at once. New smarter power strips for the home office can automatically shut off all those peripherals when you shut off your computer. APC's SurgeArrest or Sophisticated's PowerKey Pro are power strips that "know" when your computer turns off or goes to sleep. In response, they shut down any external gadgets plugged into the same strip by cutting power to those outlets.

Finally, some good news for laptop owners: your computers are about 50 percent more efficient than comparable desktops, because they're designed to maximize battery life.

  • De-activate your screen saver setting and set it to go to sleep instead.
  • Buy a power strip for all the gadgets connected to your computer to cut off power automatically when they're not being used.
  • Get in the habit of turning off your computer monitor and other external gadgets when you're not using them. By the end of a month, saving energy at your desk at home or at work will become second nature.


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    Posted: Jan 29, 2009 8:13am
    Jan 21, 2009

    Compact fluorescent light bulbs aren't the only option for conscious, energy efficient lighting. LED, which stands for light-emitting diodes, are small and incredibly durable. Buy one now and you may not have to replace it until 2028. LEDs last up to 60,000 hours -- five times longer than compact fluorescents and 50 to 60 times the lifespan of an incandescent bulb. They use so little energy that some don't have to be plugged in at all, running on solar power or a single battery.

    You already have LEDs in your home -- the little glowing lights on all your electronics. But now these tiny, bright lights can be found in modern lamps, chandeliers and sconces as well as crank flashlights and strings of holiday lights.

    LEDs burn bright and cool for great decorative and accent lighting. They work well with shades, glass or other coverings to diffuse the bright light. Designers are creating futuristic, original lighting using LEDs. This very modern constellation chandelier uses clusters of LED lights suspended from copper tubes.

    IKEA and Target both carry less expensive LED lamps. The IKEA Jansjo model comes as a $70 floor lamp, a $30 table lamp and a $30 wall lamp - each includes an LED bulb. Target carries a variety of sleek desk and floor lamps. And Energizer has started selling battery-powered LED nightlights, desk lamps and $45 wall sconces that you can hang anywhere without the help of an electrician.

    This color-changing LED bulb comes with a remote control that allows you to adjust the hue to your mood. It can even work as a strobe light if you want to liven up a Tuesday evening at home.

    For even more eco-friendly mood lighting, try LED wax-free candles. They look like votive or tea lights but it's actually an LED. These solar-powered sun and moon jars make great night lights for kids.

    Solar-powered LED garden lights are available at most home and garden stores. A small solar panel charges the lights during the day and powers them through the night.

    For the holidays, decorate with LED bulbs instead of standard incandescent bulbs. LED holiday lights are 90 percent more efficient than regular bulbs. Though a string of LED lights costs a bit more, it will last 20 years and is difficult to break. LED strings come in all shapes and colors and are incredibly efficient - so you can light up your yard without fear of the electricity bill.

    Isn't that illuminating?


    • Replace your clunky battery-powered flashlight with a crank LED flashlight and you'll always be ready when the lights go out. Crank the handle for a minute and the flashlight will light up for a half hour. Some crank flashlights can even charge your cell phone too.


    • Visit a lighting store to take a look at LED lamps and solar-powered lighting. These energy-efficient, long-lasting lights are worth the investment


    • Replace outdoor lights with solar-powered LEDs.
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    Posted: Jan 21, 2009 9:38am


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