For Earth Day, save energy with small steps

It’s important to recycle aluminum cans and all other recyclable products because it saves energy, money and helps preserve the environment, says Wendell Porter, senior lecturer in the UF/IFAS department of agricultural and biological engineering. As Earth Day approaches on April 22, Porter also stresses the need for renewable energy and LED lighting.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Sometimes, Wendell Porter gets a kick out of watching customers pick up LED lights in a store, look at them and put them back – again and again.

People don’t buy the lights because they’re afraid they’ll make a mistake, said Porter, senior lecturer in the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences department of agricultural and biological engineering.

His suggestion for Earth Day and year-round environmental and cost-savings?

“Make that first step; actually make a decision,” he said. “It’s that first step. Customers looking at LED lights don’t want to make a mistake. Well, what if you do? What if it’s the wrong color temperature, and it’s a brighter white than you wanted, and you wanted a warm color? Then the next time you read the label a little more carefully. And you think, ‘I wasted that $3.’ No you didn’t. Put it in the back closet.”

LED stands for light-emitting diode. Those types of lights are more energy efficient that conventional light bulbs.

Porter offers more hints to save energy: Change the temperature on your thermostat by 1 degree. Change the temperature on your hot water tank from 130 to 120. Turn off your home entertainment system overnight and while you’re at work.

“Then get addicted to the habits,” Porter said. “It’s all about the money to me.”

In addition to LED lights, Porter suggests solar arrays. They can save you $1,000 to $1,500 a year on your electricity bill. Plus, with a 30 percent federal tax credit for solar panels, you can install a $10,000 solar array and get back $3,000, Porter said.

About 10 to 15 years ago, 52 percent of America’s electricity came from coal. Now, coal produces figure barely 30 percent, he said. At 32 percent, our leading source of electricity is natural gas. Renewable energy sources such as solar will soon take over as the leading source for electricity, Porter said.

Porter predicts we’ll use renewable energy as our main source faster than many experts think.

“I’ve been waiting 40 years for this,” Porter said with a hint of giddiness.

Photo credit: Robert Annis, UF/IFAS

By: Brad Buck, 352-294-3303, bradbuck@ufl.edu

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