October is Energy Awareness Month, designated by the U.S. Department of Energy, and this year’s theme–”Working to Secure a Clean Energy Future”–encourages everyone to work together to make wise energy choices.
The government Web site offers a number of materials and resources. Contact them for a CD Rom “Power Kit of Energy Awareness Resources,” and more. In the same spirit, the book Go Green offers some great action points for energy saving. Check them out:
• Go to your local hardware store or lighting center and get help selecting your CFLs. They come in all shapes and sizes and light spectra. Your supermarket may sell CFLs, but if you don’t know what you are looking for, it can be confusing. Keep your eyes open for free distribution of CFLs at energy fairs or conferences. Also check for CFL rebates with your local utility company.
• Switch every non-dimmable light fixture in your home and office immediately to CFLs.
• Put an insulating blanket, found at hardware stores, on your electric water heater.
• Install a programmable thermostat for your heating source.
• Call your local utility company and order an energy audit for your home, office or apartment. Institute as many of the audit’s suggestions as you can. Check into rebates available from your utility company. Remember that money up front is money saved in the future.
• Check into federal and state tax incentives and credits for improving your energy efficiency. The current federal tax credit offers up to $2,000 for adding qualified solar water heating and photovoltaic systems to your home. This credit currently expires in December 2008.
• If you need to take out a home-equity loan to remodel or renovate, try to find a lender that will reduce your payments because you are going green.
• When a home appliance breaks, be sure to replace it with an Energy Star appliance. Whenever you purchase a computer, TV, DVD player or new phone, make sure it is Energy Star approved.
• Get power strips for all of your plug-in appliances like phone chargers, stereos, DVDs, TVs and computers. Plug everything with a black transformer box or digital readout into a strip, and then turn the whole strip off at night. This saves you energy.
• Put your outdoor lights on a motion sensor so they work only when you need them and will not be on all night. Use solar outdoor lights; let the sun light your path in the dark.
Adapted from Go Green, by Nancy H. Taylor (Gibbs Smith, 2008).