Being Green: The Conservation House
At the recent Mighty Mullet Festival, Sustainable Big Bend volunteers and I provided an educational booth featuring simple changes that can be easily made in your home to save energy. It was a great booth filled with so many examples to encourage these changes. One item that drew a crowd was a drape made with decorative fabric and lining with a discarded, but quality quilt inserted between the layers. It is perfect for those people who may have leaky windows but few resources to make more expensive improvements or for those who rent their home. We featured a caulking gun, a shower timer, a CFL light bulb, a clothes line in hopes of reminding people of the simple changes that can be made to save energy and money.
These were suggestions were featured.
- Attic: Make sure you have adequate insulation.
- Lamps and Light bulbs: Use compact fluorescent light bulbs (cfl’s) and properly dispose of them. CFLs last up to 10 times longer than an incandescent bulb. You will also save on air-conditioning costs because they generate ¾ less heat than regular incandescent bulbs.
Contrary to popular belief, turning off fluorescent lights really does save energy. Frequent switching may shorten bulb life, but electric bill savings will more than compensate for the shorter lifespan.
When it is time to dispose of them, CFLs require special handling so don’t throw them away with the regular household trash. While they can be recycled, they should not be thrown into your recycle bin either. Keep them in a safe place until a Hazardous Waste Collection Day is scheduled in Wakulla County to dispose of them properly.
- Garage: Water heating is often the third largest energy expense in your home, after heating and cooling—it can account for 13-17% of your utility bill. If you have a dishwasher with a preheating element, setting the main water heater at 120˚ is fine for most households. Turn the heating unit off when you leave the home for any length of time such as for a vacation. If you have a dishwasher with a preheating element, setting the main water heater at 120˚ is fine for most households.
- Ceiling Fans: Use the airflow mode for directing its movement. In the summer, a ceiling fan will allow you to raise your thermostat setting by as much as 4˚ without feeling a difference in your comfort. Consider that in the summer, for every degree setting below 78˚, you spend up to 8% more on cooling cost. Operate your fan in reverse in the winter to push warm air down without creating a chilly breeze. A ceiling fan/light combo kits that have earned the ENERGY STAR® are about 50% more efficient than conventional fan/light units. Remember, fans cool people, not rooms. Ceiling fans are less costly than air conditioning, but they still use electricity. Running several fans 24 hours a day can add up quickly, especially if no one is home to benefit from them. Run the fan only when someone is in the room.
- Bathroom: Don’t leave water running while you are brushing your teeth. Replace older toilets with low-flow toilets. Add a brick to the tank to reduce water use. Showers use less water than baths. Time your showers and try to keep them less than 5 minutes in length. Consider turning off the water while you are lathering.
- Laundry Room: Clean the lint from the filter after every load. Use interior or exterior clotheslines or a drying rack when possible. Wash full loads of laundry. Use a cold water wash and rinse and earth-friendly laundry soap. Front loading washers are more efficient than most top loading models.
- Kitchen: It may come as a surprise that washing a load of dishes in the dishwasher uses less water than doing the same number of dishes by hand. Dishwashers also do a better job of killing germs, because they use hotter water than you would normally use if washing by hand. Run your dishwasher only when it is full. Use the air dry setting instead of heat dry and use earthy-friendly dishwasher soap. By replacing a pre-1994 dishwasher with an ENERYG STAR® qualified dishwasher, you can save at least $30 in annual utility costs. Clean your dishwasher following the manufacturer’s instruction to expect optimal cleaning.
Your refrigerator is the only appliance that works continuously in your home 24 hours a day. In most household, the refrigerator is the single biggest energy consuming kitchen appliance. According to Energy Star®, replacing a refrigerator bought in 1990 with a new Energy Star® qualified model can save enough to pay for lighting an average household for nearly four months. Your refrigerator/freezer is another place for a thermometer. Keep your refrigerator between 35˚ and 38˚ and your freezer at 0˚F.
Use tight-fitting covers on pots and pans when cooking on top of your stove and cook with a full oven. Match the burner with the pan size. Cook large batches and freeze extra portions. Utilize seasonal recipes.
- Windows: Weatherize your windows. Use insulated window coverings or curtains to control energy loss if you can’t replace your present leaky windows.
UF/IFAS Wakulla County Extension and members of Sustainable Big Bend are committed to educating people on how to save energy and live more sustainable lives. In-depth UF/IFAS publications are available on all of the above named topics. Please use our www.solutionsforyourlife.com website to request information on these topics OR contact me and I will get the needed information to you. We are here to serve you!