Energy Conservation

Green Tips for Electricity - The Third Highest Priority for Going Green

Feedback  

We use electricity every hour of every day in our lives. Whether it is for an alarm clock or a fridge, we all use electricity. Most people think this is a clean source of energy, but in most cases, it is a large source of pollution. For example, the single largest source of greenhouse gasses in Virginia is the coal-fired electricity generators that supply over 40% of the state’s electricity. For this reason, our number one recommendation for reducing your carbon footprint from electricity is to switch to 100% renewable energy. The easiest way to do this is to purchase your electricity from a green source. With some research, investment, and a lot of dedication, it is also possible to produce your own electricity using wind and solar sources... a huge step in going green. To understand more about why this is the third highest priority, see our Electricity Usage page.

Impact

Solution

Lifestyle Change

Health

Financial

Large

Switch to 100% Renewable Energy

One-Time

-

$

Large

Reduce Your Fridge Energy Consumption

One-Time

-

$

Large

Dry Clothes Naturally

Habit

-

$

Large

Reduce Summer Cooling

One-Time

-

$

Medium

Use Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs

One-Time

-

$

Medium

Eliminate the Power Vampires

Habit

-

$

Medium

Turn Off Computer When Not in Use

Habit

-

$

Medium

Shade Reduces Demand for Air Conditioning

One-Time

-

-

Medium

Conserve Energy in Summer

Habit

-

$

Small

Use Fans Instead of Air Conditioning

Habit

-

$

Small

Use LED Lighting

One-Time

-

$

Small

Use Less Lighting

Habit

-

$

Small

Dishwasher Efficiency

Habit

-

$

Small

Efficient Cooking

Habit

-

$

Small

Energy Efficient Pools

One-Time

-

$

Switch to 100% Renewable Energy

Using only electricity from renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, or low-impact hydro will significantly reduce your carbon footprint. Switching to a renewable electricity supplier may not be an option in some areas, so purchasing carbon offsets may be another option to consider. Introducing energy conservation measures at work or at home can reduce the additional cost.

Reduce Your Fridge Energy Consumption

The fridge is one of the highest energy consuming appliances in a home, so reducing the electricity it uses can have a large impact. The first energy conservation consideration is unplugging any extra fridges such as the one in the garage or basement. If you have to replace your fridge, purchase the smallest one that will meet your needs and ensure it has an Energy Star symbol. This ensures you are getting one of the most energy efficient appliances available. If you don't have the budget for new appliances, then consider swapping out the outdated, less-efficient parts in your fridge, with newer, energy-efficient parts. Some parts can be easily swapped out as a DIY project (but sometimes you'll need a pro).

Clean your refrigerator heating coils regularly as the dust will reduce the efficiency. Keep the rubber door seals clean and tight. They should hold a piece of paper snugly - if the paper easily slips out, replace the seal.

Keep the refrigerator temperature between 35 F (1.7 C) and 38 F (3.3 C) and the freezer at 0 F (-18 C) for maximum efficiency and safety.

Dry Clothes Naturally

A clothes dryer requires a lot of energy, so why not air drying your laundry on a clothes tree or clothes line? When you do use your dryer, clean lint filter thoroughly after each load and don't over dry the clothes.

Reduce Summer Cooling

Set your air conditioner to 75 F (24 C) and raise it when you go out, or set your programmable thermostat to do this. For each degree set below this temperature, you use 3% to 5% more energy. This recommended setting will give you the most comfort and the best energy conservation.

Use Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs

The common light bulb we use today is technology from over 100 years ago. It is inefficient and produces heat. While Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFL) cost more to purchase, they save you money over the life of the bulb through energy conservation. They last much longer than a traditional incandescent bulb, run cooler, and use almost 80% less energy. Some people object to the colour of the light, so what you need to shop for is “Warm White”, which is much closer to the light of a traditional bulb. Remember to keep the bulbs once they burn out for disposal with hazardous waste such as batteries as they contain mercury (only about 20% of the amount found in a watch battery). To see why you should make the switch, check out this 3 minute YouTube video called "CFL Lightbulbs in Plain English"

Eliminate the Power Vampires

Many electronic devices use power when they are plugged in and turned off. The common term to describe these devices is “Power Vampires”. Use power bars and timers to eliminate power vampires. If you want to understand how much electricity is being used, purchase or borrow a Watt Reader, which will show you how much energy is being used.

Turn Off Computer When Not in Use

A computer left on for 24 hours uses the same amount of energy as a 13w compact fluorescent light bulb left on for almost 10 days (Desktop with CRT monitor). Most people wouldn’t leave a light on for 10 days, so why does it make sense to not turn off a computer? If you are concerned about the hardware wearing out faster, don’t be - those are outdated thoughts. In the last decade, computer hardware has evolved and will not be adversely affected by turning the machine on and off. For additional energy conservation, plug in all your computer devices to a power bar and turn off the power bar after the computer is shut down. These devices use electricity when plugged in and turned off.

Shade Reduces Demand for Air Conditioning

Planting deciduous trees (trees with leaves that fall off in the winter) on the sunny side of a building will block the summer's sun from heating it up, and in the winter, after the leaves are off the tree, the sun will help heat the building. A single tree can help with energy conservation the whole year around.

Conserve Energy in Summer

Turn off all sources of heat, such as lights, appliances and electrical equipment when not in use in the summer. This will help keep your home or workplace cooler and reduce the need for fans or air conditioning. At home you can do your washing, drying, and ironing early in the morning or in the evening when it is cooler.

Use Fans Instead of Air Conditioning

Use fans as your first line of defence against summer heat. For example, a 60-watt ceiling fan costs between 8 cents and $1.50 to operate monthly, while an air conditioner can cost between $6.75 and $40.50 a month. This energy conservation tip will help the environment and your pocket book.

Use LED Lighting

Light Emitting Diode (LED) lighting is extremely energy efficient. They are now common in Christmas lighting and making inroads in other areas. The LEDs are about 100 times more efficient than traditional lighting. For example, there are many companies conserving energy and saving money simply by changing their exit signs to use LEDs.

Use Less Lighting

The goal here is to conserve energy. Even if you use CFL or LED lighting, turn off lights that aren't being used. Make sure you turn on outdoor lights only when they're needed. This will not only help reduce your carbon footprint, it will also keep more money in your pocket.

Have you ever noticed outdoor business signs are generally lit up 24 hours a day? Clearly these businesses are not concerned with energy conservation or expenses. Adding light timers is a simple solution to significantly reduce energy consumption when they are not needed during the day and late night.

Dishwasher Efficiency

To make more efficient use of your dishwasher, only run it when there is a full load. Use the energy saving setting such as choosing to air-dry the dishes. If you are shopping for a dishwasher, ensure you purchase a model with an Energy Star symbol. This ensures you are getting one of the most energy efficient appliances available.

Efficient Cooking

When cooking with a pot, always use the lid to cook more efficiently. You can also turn off the oven several minutes before the cooking is done as the oven will retain the heat. If you like to experiment with new things, consider trying a solar oven or solar cooker.

Energy Efficient Pools

While having a pool to reduce your use of an air conditioner makes sense, a pool can use a lot of energy to run. Consider putting the water pump on a timer to run only 6-8 hours per day instead of running 24 hours a day. A solar hot water system is also an efficient way to heat a pool using renewable energy.