How to Reduce or Green Your Electricity Use How to Reduce or Green Your Electricity Use
Electricity uses a lot of natural resources. Although more alternative sources of power like wind and solar are taking hold in the United States, a lot of energy is still derived from coal and other sources that have a large carbon footprint. You can reduce your carbon footprint by adopting a greener lifestyle-—sign up for green power, use solar energy, or just take simple steps to reduce your use.
Conduct an Energy Audit
First, find out where energy is leaving your house by conducting an energy audit. An energy audit assesses how much energy your home currently uses and then makes recommendations on what could make your home more energy efficient. You can do this yourself or have a professional do it for you. Professionals often use blower doors to see how airtight your home is, as well as infrared cameras to find thermal defects. Often you find an energy auditor through your electric or gas company.
Sign Up for Green Power
Throughout the United States, green power is becoming available through traditional power utilities. Local power utilities purchase solar or wind power and then provide it to their customers. Though it costs slightly more than traditional power, you’ll be supporting the green power industry. Depending on where you live, tax breaks and incentives may help reduce the extra costs associated with green power.
Build Your House to Use the Sun
If you’re building new construction, you can plan to incorporate passive solar home design. Passive solar design involves using the sun’s path to warm your home in the winter and cool it in the summer. Passive solar design can work in tandem with traditional power sources or on its own. Fundamentals of passive solar energy include:
•Using south-facing windows to collect heat
•Using overhangs and awnings to protect the home from summer sun’s rays
•Incorporating ventilation systems.
Another example of passive solar energy collection would be adding a solar cover to a pool to keep it warm, rather than by heating it with electricity.
Install Solar Panels
You can also invest in a small solar electric or photovoltaic (PV) system. This system has solar panels that collect the sun’s energy and convert it into useable electricity for your home. Solar panels are advanced enough to follow the sun throughout the day, but in general, they produce less energy when there is less sun.
Solar systems can be on-grid or off-grid. Off-grid means that you are not connected to a power utility. This is great for those who leave in remote locations or who want to exert their independence from the power company. On-grid refers to solar panel systems that are supplemented with traditional utility services.
Change Your Light Bulbs
Swap out regular incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) or light emitting diodes (LEDs) to cut down on your electric bill. CFLs are fluorescent lights that can be screwed into traditional bulb sockets and use only a quarter of the energy that an incandescent bulb uses. Plus, CFLs last for years-—around 10,000 hours. LEDs are even more energy efficient than CFLs and are becoming more widely available. They last around 100,000 hours and use around 90 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs.
Reduce Your Power Use
Perhaps the simplest way to “green” your electric use is to reduce it. Here are some quick and easy ways to use less power.
•Turn off incandescent lights and televisions when you leave the room.
•Turn off fluorescent lights if you’re leaving the room for more than 15 minutes.
•Turn off LEDs if you’re leaving the room for more than 5 minutes.
•Unplug devices with power adapters (“wall warts”) when they are not in use. Wall warts use power whenever they are plugged in, even if the device is turned off.
•Line-dry clothing instead of using a dryer.
•Don’t let computers and other electric devices go to “sleep.” This also sucks energy.