Wise Choices for Energy Awareness Month

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).


K s Goh
KS Goh6 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Robert O.
Robert O7 years ago


Amanda S.
Amanda S.9 years ago

Hey you guys are right about those CFLs. I have a toxipedia on my website where we talk about how bad those things can be for your health. Go LED!!


Chris Cross
Past Member 9 years ago

Thank you Judy! Think before you buy CFL's people and check out the link that Judy provided below. That's pretty scary. I just sent it to all my friends who are trying to do the "right" thing.
I, for now, am just going to keep turning off the lights I'm not using.

Judy Adams
Judy Adams9 years ago

Yee-hah! CFL Lightbulbs! Wanna see what you have to go through if you break one? http://www.greenerchoices.org/products.cfm?product=cflsbulb&pcat=homegarden
They even have a link to a video on safety for these things.
Debra and Linda, where do you get Natural Light and LED bulbs? I live in Illinois. Would these things be available through Whole Foods or any other chain that operates here?

Debra G.
Debra G9 years ago

I have heard that CFL light bulbs are energy efficient, but hazardous to our health. Right now I am using Natural Light, light bulbs because I am a little concerned about the health hazards of CFL and mercury.

Linda S.
Linda S9 years ago

Consider using LED lights instead of CFLs. LEDs do not contain mercury.

Chris Cross
Past Member 9 years ago

I live in a small bachelor suite where the heat and hot water are provided so some of the energy saving ideas are out of my hands. I have cut back on water usage and have everything hooked up to powerbars. The one concern I have is that the CFL lightbulbs contain mercury. I know it's not a lot but if you add up all the ones that finally burn out all at once, and that's a lot of mercury in the landfill. No one seems to be discussing this.

Ms Cooper
Weavre Cooper9 years ago

Having already switched to CFL light bulbs and made many other energy-efficiency changes (sealing windows, etc.) several years ago, my family has been hard-pressed to find new ways to save energy--especially since we can't afford to go solar or make large purchases even if there would be a long-term advantage. But, to save money as well as live green, we really needed to do so!

Here are a few of the things we've managed without spending money to save money:

Share one room in the evening, so that the light from one overhead serves everyone; turn off the lights in any other rooms.

Choose library books, conversation, crafts, and board games for entertainment over TV and movies.

We can't give up our computers, as they're essential to our daily work--but we can turn them all the way off when we're not using them.

Cook in the crock pot as much as possible, which uses less energy overall than does the oven. (We also tried a homemade solar oven that would bake beans, but so far it involves a lot of effort and doesn't work well on cold days.)

We only turn on the water heater for about an hour a day. During that time, everyone gets a shower and we wash the dishes. Then the water heater goes back off.

If it's really hot or cold during the day, go to the library or run necessary errands.

Of course, all the usual advice you find is important, too--use extra layers of clothing instead of heating the house, unplug or cut power to electronics that aren't in use, etc.

Patrick D'Acre
.9 years ago

and then there is the Green PC Drive