Getting started on reducing your energy use and carbon footprint can seem overwhelming. With some guidance and resources, Evergreen Sustainability Alliance is happy to help you, your place of business, and your community organization on your journey toward a net zero or carbon neutral – or even carbon negative – energy footprint. For fun, you can test your home energy IQ here.
Perhaps the easiest starting point for anyone, anywhere is to conserve energy. Simply put, energy conservation means to use less energy. Here are a few tips for your home, community buildings, and place of business.
Use less energy for lighting
You may have more light bulbs burning than are needed. Use daylighting instead of electric lighting when possible. De-lamp fixtures where possible. A lighting audit can measure light levels and inform you of optimal lighting levels for various areas. Use task lighting rather than overhead lighting where appropriate.
Replace incandescent bulbs with fluorescent or LED bulbs to save up to 70% of the energy used for lighting.
Get efficient with your appliances
Many of us have extra refrigerators, some of which are chilling only a few cold drinks. Unplug these extra refrigerators if they are used only when company arrives, and plug them in as needed. Better yet, recycle the extra chiller and get a rebate from Xcel Energy for doing so. Your remaining, fuller refrigerator will be more efficient because a full refrigerator or freezer does a better job of keeping things chilled than does an empty one.
- When you replace an appliance, shop for Energy Star rated equipment. Energy Star appliances use at least 15% (and sometimes as much as 75%) less energy than standard models.
- Dry your clothes outside instead of using the dryer. Use the sun’s energy instead! This method is also better for killing germs, as UV rays are a natural disinfectant.
- Unplug, unplug, unplug! When not in use, unplug. Electricity is still being used when an appliance is plugged in. It also makes for a cleaner, nicer looking kitchen if countertop appliances are unplugged and stored when not in use anyway.
Seal your building envelope
Many homes lose 50% or more of the heating and cooling energy produced by their furnaces or air conditioners. Sealing the spots where leakage occurs can save significant amounts of energy.
Obvious areas to seal are windows and doors. Use weather stripping and caulk. For a comprehensive analysis of your home’s leakage, get a home energy audit to quantify and locate your leakage sites. Once measured, the improvement achieved through sealing and other measures can be quantified and may qualify you for rebates on your work through Xcel Energy.
Use your window treatments such as blinds to increase heating and cooling efficiency. Shut them at night in the winter to store heat, which also works in the summer to keep cool air in and the sunshine out when it’s hot outside.
Heating & cooling
Did you know that it is estimated you can save 10% a year on heating and cooling just by turning back your thermostat 7-8℉ for 8 hours a day (energy.gov)? Use blankets, dress warmly, and use your own body heat when it’s cold outside. Do the reverse when it’s hot and skip the A/C when you can!
Increasing your energy efficiency is an easy and no or low-cost starting point for reducing your carbon footprint. Have you made some changes and are still wondering about the efficiency in your home or business?
Schedule a home energy audit. You can also check out our tips for switching to renewable energy, decreasing your energy use for transportation, and getting a Green Team started at your school.