Being Energy Efficient With Energy Star Appliances And More
Imagine a building that just became your home. This home has solar panels on the roof and all of the appliances are energy efficient. The lights turn off when you leave a room and insulation keeps the place cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
If you're reading this article, you want to make your own home as energy efficient as the dream green home described above. But, there's still hope for your current home. Read on to learn about Energy Star appliances, whether or not they're reliably green, and how you can check if your own appliances are efficient.
General Rules for Energy Efficiency
When it comes to checking energy efficiency, there are a few things to keep in mind. Energy efficient products are fairly regulated, so the following tips should keep you on the right path no matter the product you're looking at.
Energy Star Appliances Are Vetted
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has qualified an array of appliances that “incorporate advanced technologies and use 10 to 50 percent less energy than standard appliances.”
Energy Star appliances are generally no more expensive than other appliances. Imagine the savings of a washer and dryer that are adding $20 extra to your electricity bill each month. That's $240 per year in savings; Investing in energy efficient products will go far for you and you budget. You can take home assessment from Energy Star here.
Light Emitting Diode (LED) lights
Light emitting diode (LEDI) lights are well-known as the most energy efficient light bulbs. While initially more expensive than other bulbs, there is a high ROI on these bulbs based on their energy usage and long lifetime. While there are a few options for bulbs and lights, it is important to ensure your fixtures are also up to date and will support an LED bulb.
Compact Fluorescent (CFL) lights
A compact fluorescent light (CFL) is lit by a charge running through a halogen filled tube with some mercury. This emits an invisible ultraviolet light that interacts with the tube to produce visible light. Because of this function, CFL lights are, by design, less energy efficient.
Incandescent light bulbs
Incandescent light bulbs are essentially the same light bulb that Edison developed hundreds of years ago. Not only are these bulbs less energy efficient, they also produce less light/watt. But, the future is bright for lightbulbs. In fact, MIT has been working on an incandescent light bulb that is 3 times more efficient than LEDs! So this is something to consider in the future to expand your efficiency practices.
Lights and appliances are not the only means of energy efficiency you can employ around your home and business. There are different tools that can help reduce heat loss and improve general efficiency of equipment.
Smart thermostats vs manual thermostats
While most people have a plan for their manual thermostats, smart thermostats allow you to monitor your usage throughout the day, control the temperature with an app, and be more intelligent about their scheduling. There are many brands that supply energy star smart thermostats. Honeywell and Nest are a couple of varieties that are eligible for incentive programs with Con Edison.
Another overlooked method of saving energy is through windows. Windows provide light, heat, and ventilation, by having an active strategy, you can utilize windows as a tool and see the product in your energy savings. Like appliances, these require maintenance to ensure their effectiveness from weatherproofing to having a window film or glaze. Energy star has standards for window performance you can use as a reference.
Building insulation contributes greatly to the efficiency of many systems. This works in coordination with the other systems such as roofing, and building envelope affecting their performance. The downside is that this is not something that can easily be overhauled, but with energy savings, the ROI could be as quick as one year.
Energy Efficient Behavior
Becoming more intelligent about your purchases can save you a lot of money in the long haul. But, it's important to note that the fastest ROI may not be retrofit, but a change in behavior.
From your home to your office space, regardless of the efficiency practices that are employed, changing a simple routine can reduce your usage by as much as 5%.
The European Environment Agency conducted a study on how behavior and feedback can help increase energy efficiency. Most people know we should turn lights off or shut down that computer and unplug unused chargers. What the agency was watching for is how did direct or indirect feedback affect a person’s consumption of energy.
Changing to appliances that were more efficient showed the lowest promise to increase behavior change. This inadvertent feedback was helpful in developing new habits and stimulating discussion within a community. But, the most promising loop of feedback was a direct association of daily energy usage with a cost. A constant display of usage gave participants the ability to recognize the cost either in kWh or money, and change behaviors as appropriate.
While we all do not have smart meters or displays showing the effect of all our behaviors on our energy read or bill, having a constant awareness that each move you make is adding to your carbon footprint can be enough to add it up. To measure your carbon footprint with the EPA, check out this link.
So next time you blow your lightbulb or need a new appliance, check out Energy Star products and LED lights. And in the meantime, change your behavior to be more energy efficient and start saving now!