A Baker’s Dozen of Ways to Celebrate Energy Awareness Month

This blog was written by Jennifer Rennicks, former Senior Director of Policy & Communications at the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

Guest Blog | October 3, 2014 | Energy Efficiency, Energy Policy

While there’s no Friday the 13th this October, you can pick any – or all – of the items on these 13-point checklists during Energy Awareness Month to save energy (and money) at home, at work and on the road. Work your way through these lists and you’ll avoid some scary energy bills this winter while reducing sources of climate pollution, too!

At Home:

  1. Turn down the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting (120°F). You’ll save energy and avoid burning your hands.
  2. Insulate your water heater with an insulating blanket (it will pay for itself in one year or less!) and wrap hot water pipes to prevent heat loss.
  3. Make sure your furnace or heat pump receives professional maintenance each year, and look for the ENERGY STAR® label when replacing your system. (Heating can account for almost half of the average family’s winter energy bill.)
  4. Clean or replace the filters in your furnace, air conditioner, and heat pump at least once a year, if not each season.
  5. Insulate heating ducts in unheated areas, such as attics and crawlspaces. Keeping ducts in good repair can prevent heat loss of up to 60% at the registers.
  6. Look at all of your incandescent lights for opportunities to replace them with compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) or light-emitting diodes (LEDs). CFLs can save three-quarters of the electricity used by incandescents. The best targets are the 60-100 W bulbs used several hours each day.
  7. Turn off the lights in unoccupied rooms or consider installing timers, photo cells, or occupancy sensors to reduce the amount of time your lights are on.
  8. Replace your energy-hungry desktop computer with a laptop and sleep your monitor when not in use for more than 20 minutes.
  9. Unplug equipment that drains energy when not in use (i.e. cell phone chargers, fans, coffeemakers, etc.). or purchase an advanced power strip to minimize the power draw.
  10. Replace aging, inefficient appliances. Even if the appliance has a few useful years left, replacing it with a top-efficiency model is generally a good investment. Especially check the age and condition of your refrigerator.
  11. Install a programmable thermostat that can be adjusted according to your schedule.
  12. Open curtains on your south-facing windows during winter days to allow sunlight to naturally heat your home – passive solar heating – and close them at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows.
  13. Schedule a professional energy audit or conduct a basic one yourself.

At Work

  1. Replace old lightbulbs with compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) or light-emitting diodes (LEDs) for desk lamps and overhead lighting. CFLs use only one-fourth the energy and last up to 10 times longer.
  2. Use natural lighting or daylighting when feasible, and use dimmers, motion sensors, or occupancy sensors to automatically turn off necessary lighting when not in use to reduce energy use and costs.
  3. Close or adjust window blinds to block direct sunlight to reduce cooling needs during warm months. Overhangs or exterior window covers are most effective to block sunlight on south-facing windows.
  4. Open blinds on south-facing windows during winter days to allow sunlight to naturally heat your workspace – passive solar heating. Before you leave at night, close the blinds to reduce heat loss.
  5. Unplug equipment that drains energy when not in use (i.e. cell phone chargers, fans, coffeemakers, etc.). or purchase an advanced power strip to minimize the power draw.
  6. Replace your company’s energy-hungry desktop computers with laptops or notebook computers and docking stations.
  7. Turn off your computer at the end of the work day, and if you leave your desk for more than 20 mins, sleep your monitor.
  8. Turn off photocopier at night or purchase a new copier with low standby feature. Purchase printers and fax machines with a  power management feature and use it.
  9. Consider alternative work schedules and telecommuting to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from work commuting.
  10. Reduce business travel by increasing phone, video, and Web conferencing and training capabilities.
  11. Use coffee mugs instead of disposable cups.
  12. Install programmable thermostats throughout the office.
  13. Have a qualified professional perform an energy audit. Check with your utility company for names of auditors.

On The Road

  1. Carpool, bike, or use mass transit when commuting to work and, if possible, for leisure time, too!
  2. Consider alternative work schedules and telecommuting to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from work commuting.
  3. Drive the speed limit and remove excess/unneeded weight in your vehicle.
  4. If you’re not using your car’s roof rack, remove it to reduce aerodynamic drag, resulting in better fuel economy.
  5. Consolidate trips and lessen the number of stops along the way to reduce drive time.
  6. Shift gears at lower RPM’s (revolutions per minute) if you drive a manual transmission for substantial fuel savings.
  7. Accelerate more slowly from a complete stop to help reduce fuel consumption.
  8. Coast to a stop when possible since  it uses much less fuel to maintain forward momentum than it does to reach speed from a complete stop.
  9. Turn off your engine if you plan to idle more than a minute to save fuel and reduce air pollution.
  10. Avoid drive thru windows altogether – they lead to excessive idling.
  11. Check tire pressure to ensure better fuel economy.
  12. Change your spark plugs every 10,000 miles: a good spark plug means better combustion of fuel inside the engine, resulting in fewer emissions and more miles-per-gallon.
  13. If you’re in the market for new transportation, consider a greener vehicle so that energy savings are realized every day.

To learn about still more ways to save energy and money, too, click here.

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