Here in Harlem, New York, the end of Daylight Savings Time means shortened daylight hours and colder temperatures. Stay warm while saving energy and money this winter by following some of this week’s Green Tips.
In order to reduce a household’s carbon footprint, it’s important to be cognizant of how much electricity is used. Turning off household lights and unplugging idle electronics will help to minimize environmental impacts and electric bill costs.
You can also use energy-efficient light bulbs like LED bulbs. They use less energy and last longer than conventional lights. They can fit into most light fixtures and are easy to install.
If you’re able to, consider replacing your light fixture with an LED fixture. These have light sources built into the fixture. They use even less energy than LED bulbs in conventional fixtures, last even longer, and offer a higher quality of light.
As the holiday season approaches, decorative lights are strung around homes and buildings creating beautiful, yet energy-consuming displays. To stay festive while keeping energy emissions in check, be sure to moderate usage of your holiday light decorations. Consider using LED holiday lights, which use less energy than conventional lights. If you are able to use a timer system, allowing holiday lights to be on for a few hours at night and then shut off, you could help keep electricity usage to a minimum.
Heating is the largest use of energy in the average New Yorker’s home. This winter, try to conserve as much heat as possible. You can still stay warm and toasty by keeping your thermostat at a lower temperature while you’re out during the day and while you’re sleeping.
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You can also reduce heating consumption by using a programmable thermostat. Check to see if your thermostat allows you to set automatic temperature adjustments during a certain daily schedule. For renters, if you are not in control of your thermostat, talk with your landlord about lowering the heat.
If you’re able to, try to clean your furnace on a regular basis so that it works efficiently. Replace the air filters and have a furnace servicing contractor clear dirt and corrosion annually to maintain heating levels and improve indoor air quality. More information on cleaning your furnace is available here.
Other easy ways to trap heat and therefore use less of it at home include leaving blinds open for sunlight to naturally warm the rooms in your home, putting rugs over bare floors for better heat insulation, and using small space heaters in rooms that you spend the most time in while leaving other areas cooler.
Improving Home Insulation
Uninsulated attics, gaps in the fireplace, and small openings under doors are some of the ways homes fail to be airtight. Cold air leaks, no matter how big or small, can cause significant losses to home heating, making heating systems work harder. This can be prevented by inspecting your insulation at home or hiring a professional energy auditor and seeing if improvements need to be made.
A quick way to check if all the walls in your home are insulated is to unscrew an outlet cover and use a flashlight to look at the inside. Using the U.S Department of Energy insulation fact sheet, you can identify what insulation you have, its effectivity, and what they advise for your home.
More information on the importance of insulation and how to inspect for leaks and deterioration can be found on the U.S Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy website. Also, if you’re looking to add or change insulation, there are many eco-friendly options to choose from.
Switching to Green Energy
New York State currently uses a combination of renewable and non-renewable sources for energy production. Though New York made substantial efforts to increase the use of hydro, solar, biofuel and wind sources, the U.S Energy Information Administration estimates 70% of New York’s energy still comes from non-renewable, greenhouse gas-emitting sources like oil.
For those looking to make a more substantial change towards reducing their carbon footprint, the emerging renewable energy market has made it possible for New Yorkers to switch to green energy suppliers. Moving to solar or wind energy can be a simple, hassle-free process, with multiple suppliers to choose from.
New Yorker’s energy service is comprised of two entities – the supplier and the distributor. The supplier is the source of your energy, and a distributor, your utility, delivers the selected energy.
Explore your green energy supplier options here, and see if there are a plan and a price that fits your needs. Contact the supplier directly to sign up for their service. Once you have signed up with a new supplier, the adjustment is made to your utility account and the only thing that changes is the source of the energy delivered to your house.
To learn more about New York State renewable energy use go to the NY Green Power Program Page.
For those looking to take a more complete account of the energy efficiency of their home or apartment space, you can do an at-home energy audit. With a simple walk-through of your home, you can identify leaks, drafty windows, deteriorating insulation, inefficient lighting and more. Accounting for these issues can help you get a better understanding of ways you can make your home more energy- and cost-efficient.
If you are interested in a more extensive and precise home energy assessment, you can request a professional energy auditor. Information on what to expect and where to find a professional energy auditor can be found on the U.S Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy website.
If you own your home and have the budget, you can also look into upgrading appliances to ENERGY STAR products. The Environmental Protection Agency strongly promotes purchasing ENERGY STAR certified products, which guarantees energy efficiency and reduced emissions. Upgrading to more efficient appliances and heating systems are a good way to increase property value and cut energy costs.
For more information on how you can upgrade your home with ENERGY STAR, visit their page to explore all their services.