Going Green To Save Green

I’m often asked by people as to what changes they should make first when they embark upon a “greening” of their home or work place quest to save on power bill and to help the environment? This question can become tougher to answer when posed by someone on a tight bud- get. Let’s face it; those who can least afford today’s rising power bills need to make these changes the most.

This is a logical question especially when we are so readily bombarded by advertising and press articles about the Virtues of Going Green and buying solar panels to create power and using Green Wise, Energy Star or green certified products. So what does it all mean? In reality, not every- body is able to place five or six kilowatts of solar panels on their roof due to home orientation or if one lives in an apartment. However, from home and business owner’s new incentive programs from the likes of FP&L and state and federal rebates/tax credits, around half of the product cost can now be offset!

So, solar panels and wind turbines are now definitely worth looking into for those wishing to create their own power and never worry about rising energy prices ever again. However, what do you do if you rent your home or live in an apartment when solar power panels are not a practical solution?

The short answer is “start small” and as the old adage goes, “Look after the pennies and the dollars will follow.” So, let’s start with the low hanging GREEN fruit and go for the easy green changes that can be simply made. Some of these changes can even be applied by those who are renting!

Switch electrical items off at the power board or unplug them altogether when not in use to reduce “vampire power drain.” Just like vampires leach blood, appliances that are left plugged in can drain as much power per annum as the actual device uses when it is activated. Culprits are: phone chargers, clothes washers, tumble dryers, VCR/ DVDs and computers. For example, an average microwave is used for less than 10 minutes per day but vampires’ standby power lasts for 23 hours and 50 minutes each day. Solution = Unplug or use power boards. This alone can save an average household up to $112 a year. For businesses this figure can be multiplied, de- pending upon the number of electrical items drawing standby power.

Change out incandescent light bulbs to compact fluros (CFLs) or better still, light emitting diodes (LEDs). Think about it! If an average home can change out 20 to 40 100-watt in- candescent bulbs for 10 – 30 watt LED or CFL lights, bills can be cut by around 70%. Prices for these products have become quite affordable of late and can be easily switched out if you move regularly. Savings have been shown to be dramatic in some households.

Fit a Skylight – Great for businesses as a few modern tubular skylights can easily halve a lighting bill. At home, kitchens, laundries, studies, robes and all dark areas benefit from natural light brought in by skylights. Well-lit buildings not only save energy and money, but also appear larger, more inviting and are great home improvement options.

Insulate – If your building is not already insulated or if you have less than R38 Insulation (12-inches thick), it is time to upgrade. Extra batts can easily be fitted over the top of existing ceiling insulation or spray foam can be retrofitted in some cases. (Rebates and incentives are on offer here as well, so it is worth looking into.) The savings made on heating and cooling bills will often repay the outlay within a year or two.

Published in: DBA (Developers and Builders Alliance)
Written by: Sean Cochrane

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