Start with small changes that make a big difference in your own energy use and the pollution we generate on our planet. If every American home replaced their five most frequently used light fixtures or the bulbs in them with ones that have earned the ENERGY STAR label, we could save close to $8 billion each year in energy costs, and together we would prevent the greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions from nearly 10 million cars!
Top Fixtures/Bulbs to Replace First
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ENERGY STAR qualified lighting uses about 75% less energy than standard lighting, produces 75% less heat and lasts up to 10 times longer.
The energy used in the average home can be responsible for more than twice the greenhouse gas emissions of the average car. Helping with global climate change starts right at home with easy changes like light bulbs and fixtures.
In the recent 2008 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers from the National Association of Realtors, environmentally friendly features were cited as important by 90 percent of home buyers. Heating and cooling costs were of primary importance, followed by energy efficient appliances and lighting.
Close to 50% of the energy used in your home goes to heating and cooling. It makes sense to ensure your systems are operating efficiently. We've listed some basics below. You can find more detailed information on HVAC systems at www.ENERGYSTAR.gov.
Change the air filter on your furnace at least every 3 months to run it at its maximum efficiency. Clogged, dirty filters really reduce efficiency of your system and the air quality in your home.
Keep your vents and registers unobstructed. Move drapes, rugs and furniture away from heat registers and return-air vents. Free-flowing air through the furnace provides more comfort and will save you money.
Get a tune-up for your HVAC equipment yearly. Airflow and other problems can reduce your system's energy efficiency by 15%.
If you need a new furnace*, choose an ENERGY STAR qualified product. These furnaces have an annual fuel efficiency rating of 90% or higher making them up to 15% more energy efficient than standard models.
*If your furnace is more than 10 years old, you may want to consider a new, more efficient model. Depending upon where you live, you can save $200 or more a year, and improve the value of your home.
An ENERGY STAR qualified programmable thermostat can save you $150 a year in energy costs! It will give you the flexibility to turn down the heat or air conditioning during the day and when you are away for extended periods of time.
Seal your leaky heating and cooling ducts and increase their efficiency by as much as 20%, while increasing the comfort in your home. Much of your heating and cooling goes out through leaky ductwork.
Close to 75% of installed cooling equipment has the incorrect amount of refrigerant. This can lower efficiency from 5-20% and cause premature failure. Work with your contractor to verify the level is correct.
Tankless water heaters have an advantage over tank water heaters because they provide significant energy savings. The tank water heaters must constantly heat the tank's water waiting for the demand, where the tankless provides the hot water on demand. Installing tankless water heaters in new homes makes a lot of sense. When replacing a tank water heater in an existing home, the cost of the tankless, plus installation will generally be 2-3 times higher.
However, for a family of 4, the payback timeframe can be just five years, and after that you enjoy savings of about $180/year, adding up to about $2700 over the life of the tankless water heater. The life expectancy for a tankless water heater is 20 years, which is longer than the typical 7-15 years for a tank style.
If you are replacing an electric or liquid propane tank water heater with a tankless, the savings can be up to 50% on water heating costs. The cost of heating hot water in a home is about 14% of your energy bill, so it is a significant expense.
There are both electric and natural gas tankless hot water heaters. The natural gas units are more expensive than the electric, but they cost about 10-15% less to operate. A good plumbing contractor can help you calculate your potential savings and payback period, plus discuss which is better for your home.
When you need a new clothes washer, there are quite a few choices, but the primary choice is between a front or top loading machine design.
Front loading machines use about 38% less water and 56% less energy, and they are also easier on clothing because there's no agitator. They require less detergent too. Big families can fit more clothes in a load, saving even more energy and some time doing laundry too. Front loading machines also extract more water, reducing drying times for additional energy savings.
Front loading machines do cost more upfront, but can pay for themselves fairly quickly. A family of four can save around $100 annually just on water and energy costs alone. The cost of top loading machines ranges from $400-$1200 and front loading machines from $700-$1500. A front loading machine can pay for itself in 2-3 years, depending upon the model you choose.
Remember to always look for ENERGY STAR!
Products with the ENERGY STAR rating use 10-50% less energy and water than standard models. The money you save on energy will more than make up for any additional cost. Look for the EN ERGY STAR label on clothes washers, refrigerators, dishwashers and many other household systems and appliances.
We can save 25 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions, equal to 2 million cars, if we all purchased ENERGY STAR qualified products from appliances and heating/cooling systems to electronics such as TV's, DVD players, telephones and more.
ENERGY STAR qualified electronics perform a standby power mode function that uses less energy. TV's that are ENERGY STAR qualified use approximately 30% less energy than standard units. And you could save $100 a year just on qualified electronics!
Visit: www.energystar.gov for many more ideas on how to green your life and save!
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