A few years ago, I went about making my family home of about 1,500 square feet more energy efficient. Some of the things done included:
1. Repairs to the shell of the home
2. Repairs to the insulation under the house
3. Replaced old appliances with energy efficient models
4. Replaced old windows with energy-efficient windows
5. Switched most indoor lights to CFLs*
6. Replaced shower heads w/ low-flow shower heads
7. Filled in gaps where pipes & wires come into the house
(kitchen, bathrooms, utility room) with a can of spray foam insulation.
As a result of these repairs, I was able to reduce my home's energy use by about 60% on a monthly basis compared to the previous year.
Please note that this was achieved without any change in lifestyle or
personal behavior, but rather through energy efficiency only.
The total cost of all this was about $6,800. Between the lower monthly
energy bills and the tax credit for the new energy-efficient windows,
the break even point on this investment was slightly less than three years.
The really great thing is that electricity prices could literally double and my monthly power bill will still be lower than it was before these improvements. How is that for a hedge against higher energy taxes and inflation?
I feel certain that most American homes, and businesses for that matter,
could probably achieve similar energy savings by simply making their
buildings more energy efficient.
Of course, wasteful actions (usually due to simple thoughtlessness)
should be stopped as part of achieving energy efficiency. Again, this
can be done without major changes in lifestyle or personal behavior:
1. Turn off lights when not in a room
2. Turn off radios, TVs & other electronics when not in use
3. Unplug battery chargers when not being used
4. Unplug unnecessary clocks, kitchen gadgets & so forth
5. Set thermostats lower in winter (wear sweaters, use extra blanket)
6. Set thermostats higher in summer (electric fans make you feel 5° cooler)
7. Take quick showers (less hot water used = less energy used = more money saved)
Remember, the more energy you save, the more money you save. Good luck, and good savings...
*Notes on CFLs
1- CFL bulbs have gotten a bad rap in recent years due to their
mercury content. The fact is that modern CFLs contain less than 30% the
mercury contained in the CFLs that first came on the market. Unbroken,
CFLs pose no mercury danger. And it would take 125 broken modern CFLs to equal
the amount of mercury contained in that old thermometer that is probably
sitting in your bathroom cabinet.
2- CFLs are also controversial because many governments are mandating their use. I am a free market guy, therefore I am against laws mandating their use. In a free market system, people should have choice in products they purchase.
3- Still don't want CFL's? Consider LED lighting. LED lights are more expensive, but even more energy efficient than CFL's.