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Blog Apr 23, 2014

8 Ways to Reduce Wasteful Energy

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How much energy are you wasting?

The utilization of energy for people all over is an everyday need, as the use of appliances and vehicles require a source of power. In using these products and consuming energy, it is understood that waste will occur as less efficient devices coupled with human behavior can act as contributing factors. This matter has been researched in order to get a better understanding on the matter and findings from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory suggest that 61% of all energy that moves through the American economy gets wasted. Even more alarming is the fact that some experts believe the true energy efficiency of our economy is around 14%.

Though we live in an age where there is greater focus on energy-efficiency and being green, waste has been at an all-time high in recent years. And while there may be some debate on true energy efficiency numbers, the fact of the matter is that there is room for improvement. With the most significant instances of wasteful energy being attributable to the generation of electricity at power plants and the use of vehicles, other common energy wasters include household-based heating, cooling, and lighting. In order to cutback on wasteful energy, some changes will have to be made. While some of them may require a bit of effort, other adjustments can be more subtle. And even if there are some forms of waste prevention that individuals have no control over such as improving the efficiency of power plants in generating electricity, much of the United States’ energy waste is related to consumer use.

Here are a few big things you can do to save energy

Vehicle Waste

1. Drive the Speed Limit

Reducing the amount of waste that cars do can be as easy as driving the speed limit. This stems from the fact that maintaining less aggressive speeds require drivers to hit the throttle less, which will save on the energy that is typically wasted by tapping it often. To save even more, drivers should decrease their speed even more as going 10 mph slower saves 2-4 miles per gallon. This is best used over a short trip and should always be done cautiously as even slow driving can be dangerous in certain situations.

2. Keep Windows Up

Though we may often hear otherwise, keep your windows up at all times while driving. When left open, windows contribute to drag which can decrease a car’s fuel economy by up to 10%. In the event you are just hoping to cool off, use your air conditioning instead. Other things that can contribute to drag are roof racks, which are often utilized to transport bikes and other equipment. Especially if those items will not be used while making the trip, they should be removed from the vehicle. Beyond keeping windows up, energy can also be saved by keeping tires properly inflated and by replacing dirty air filters with clean ones which can reduce fuel costs by up to 10%.

Lighting Waste

3. Change bulbs

One of the best switches that can be made to prevent wasteful energy is phasing out the incandescent light bulbs in your home. On the market today are a number of energy-efficient varieties that, while preventing unnecessary usage, have a number of other benefits. These include continued performance in extreme temperature, reduced heat emission, and longer lifespan. At the very least, homeowners should get compact fluorescents which give the most immediate financial savings. Even more energy efficient than those bulbs however are LED lights which will save the most energy and money over the long-term.

4. Electric ballasts

For those who own fluorescent lights with magnetic ballasts, use ones with electrical ballasts instead and watch your waste go down. Magnetic ballasts work by creating an electrical field that minimizes the flow of energy. In comparison, electrical ballasts rely on coils to reduce the amount of current within a circuit. The capabilities of the electrical ballasts can allow for an increase in efficiency by 30%. These ballasts are smaller and weigh less than magnetic ballasts and they have the added benefit of not releasing any noise while in use, another notable point of differentiation.  

5. Automatic Timers

For those who have a large home with many lights, putting some on automatic controls that turn them off and on according to a schedule is another way to prevent energy waste. This can be especially helpful during the holiday season when the use of decorative lights can contribute to a significant amount of energy consumption. During the day, individuals can save energy by merely keeping the lights off and using natural sunlight whenever possible.

Cooling Waste

6. Get a Professional

Getting the HVAC system in a home professionally inspected may seem like an unnecessary expense, but it comes with a number of benefits that can have long term implications. Among those is how it affects wasteful energy, as getting a sense for problems with a system can allow them to be addressed swiftly and improve overall efficiency. This is critical because if left untreated, some problems with the HVAC can get worse and cost you much more than it would have had it been handled earlier.

7. Change Filters

Along with having the HVAC system inspected annually, something that will also have to be done repeatedly is cleaning or changing out the filters on a monthly basis during the cooling season. Not only will this help to keep the cost of energy down and extend the life of the unit, it has a more profound effect as it maintains air quality. Outside of the winter months, filters should be changed about every 2-3 months.

8. Maintain The Surrounding Area

Keeping the area surrounding the air conditioning unit cool can play a role in the amount of energy that is wasted by its use. One of the first things to do is make sure that the AC system is placed in the shade. In the event that this is not the case, building shade around it will prove to be helpful as coverage can increase efficiency by up to 10%. Any surrounding plants or weeds should also be pruned away from the exterior, but this should not be done with the use of a weed whip. This is due to the fact that a weed whip can shoot efficiency-reducing debris inside the AC unit and hinder efforts to reduce waste.

 

Those are the big things to reduce wasteful Energy

While they do seem obvious, remember how inefficient our economy is as a whole and think of what you could do to increase your own efficiency. 

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