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Energy Conservation
Much of the energy used in homes, at work, school and elsewhere, is unnecessarily wasted. Yet there are numerous ways to save energy, and thereby reduce your ecological footprint and save money.

According to appraisal experts and researchers, every dollar saved in utility bills increases the market value of a building by about $20. An increase in the market value of a home or other building may result in a corresponding increase in property taxes, but it can also vastly improve ROI on real estate investments if you intend on selling later. Energy conservation can also result in refundable energy credits, while reducing a household's ecological footprint (i.e., contribution to pollution, ozone or resource depletion, climate change, global warming, etc.) and energy costs -- by up to 75% or more! These savings can really add up, which can be used to pay for other eco-friendly projects that save even more energy and money.

Electric Home Appliances

Electric home appliances and other electric devices account for up to 50% of all energy use in the average home. To save energy used by electric home appliances and devices, turn them off when not in use, don't leave doors or windows open (except for heating, cooling or ventilation purposes), don't overheat or overcool building interiors, take shorter baths and showers, and replace inefficient electrical devices with more energy efficient or non-electric alternatives when possible.

Heating and Cooling

Space heating consumes nearly as much energy as all other electrical devices combined, accounting for about 47% of all energy use in the average home during the winter. The most common heat sources used in space heating include electricity and/or fuels such as wood, oil, propane, kerosene and natural gas. Absorption heat pumps use gas, solar power or heated water as the main power source, with ammonia and water to produce heat.

Water heating, which accounts for about 17% of all energy use in the average home, is usually accomplished with the use of electricity and/or fuels such as wood, oil, propane, kerosene or natural gas.

Air conditioning accounts for about 6% of all energy use in the average home during the summer. Most air conditioning units use electricity as well as ozone depleting refrigerants however. Other units, such as evaporative air coolers (also called 'swamp coolers') use electricity and a considerable amount of water.

Yet heating, cooling and temperature regulation need not involve the use of toxic chemicals or fuels that deplete the earth of its renewable resources, pollute our planet and our bodies. There are after all, simple and cost effective energy saving methods such as those provided here. All of your HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) and temperature regulation needs could be provided naturally, all year round, affordably, or even for free.

Insulation Material
Evacuated Space
Still Air
Wood
Cork
Cardboard
Fiberglass
Cotton
Hemp
Straw
Wool
Soil
R-Value/inch
30-50%
5.00%
0.71-1.41%
2.35%
3-4%
3-4%
3.40%
3.50%
1.4-2%
3.50%
0.25%
Passive Heating And Cooling
Unlike the traditional means of heating and cooling, passive heating and cooling can reduce or eliminate the need for electricity, ozone depleting chemical refrigerants or fuels of any kind. Passive heating and cooling can thus reduce or even eliminate the environmental and financial costs of heating and cooling entirely. Ideally, all buildings would be designed to regulate their own temperatures via passive heating and cooling, without the need for additional heating and air conditioning systems. It is not necessary however, to buy, build or rebuild a home or other building in order to benefit from passive heating and cooling. Eco-friendly, affordable, passive temperature regulation, heating and cooling methods can be applied to any building, parts of it, or even made portable.

Passive temperature regulation, such as proper insulation and heat storage, can help regulate indoor temperatures and reduce energy consumption. Some of the most common forms of natural, eco-friendly insulation include evacuated space, still air, wood, cork, cardboard, fiberglass, and natural fiber insulation materials such as cotton, hemp, straw and wool. Generally the higher the R-Value (resistance value), the more effective the insulation.

Thermal mass is the ability of a body to store thermal energy. Ideal materials for thermal mass have a high specific heat capacity and high density, such as water, concrete, clay, brick, soil, mud, sod, rammed earth and stones. Air can be heated five times faster than the same volume of water, but water stores heat five times longer than the same volume of air. Sand, gravel, stone and masonry stores heat much longer than water, but are also the slowest to absorb heat. Common thermal heat storage mediums include evacuated space, still air, wood, cork paper, fiberglass, cotton, wool, soil, sand, gravel, stone, glass, rice hulls, masonry and PCMs (i.e., phase change materials, such as water, fats, oils, waxes and calcium chloride salts). Generally the lower the thermal conductivity or U-Value, the more effective the heat storage medium tends to be.

Natural PCMs (phase change materials) have a high heat of fusion, which can store and release large amounts of heat energy by absorbing heat when melting and emitting heat when solidifying. When phase change materials are combined with water at temperatures of about 70 to 90 degrees F, an exothermic reaction occurs, quickly raising temperatures to about 120-140 degrees. Once cooled and solidified, most PCMs may be used again. With the capacity to store 5-14 times more heat per volume than most other sensible heat storage materials, PCMs reduce space requirements, and may be one of the most effective heat storage mediums for temperature regulation, passive heating and cooling. Some phase change materials, such as calcium chloride salts, are also hygroscopic, as they absorb water from surrounding air. Calcium chloride and other hygroscopic PCMs are therefore additionally used for dehumidification, water collection, solar distillation and seawater desalination.

Heat Storage Medium
Evacuated Space
Still Air
Wood
Cork
Paper
Fiberglass
Cotton
Wool
Soil
Sand
Gravel
Sandstone
Granite
Limestone
Marble
Glass
Rice Hulls
Brick
Concrete
Water
Water Vapor
Oil
Wax
Calcium Chloride
U-Value/inch

0.005-0.007
0.024-0.025
0.09-0.17
0.04-0.07
0.05
0.05
0.03
0.04
0.15-4
0.35-2.7
1.8
1.83-2.9
1.73-3.98
1.26-1.33
2.07-2.94
0.8-0.93
0.04-0.06
0.15-1.31
0.8-1.28
0.56-0.61
0.016-0.047
0.1-0.2
0.25
0.53
Passive geothermal heating, cooling and temperature regulation applications, such as air, ground or water source heat pumps and ground coupled heat exchangers (also sometimes called 'earth tubes') use air, earth, and/or water as heat storage mediums, absorbing and dissipating heat from and to the air, ground and/or water for general temperature regulation purposes. At only four feet below ground for example, soil helps to keep temperatures at a constant average of 50-60F all year round, nearly everywhere on the globe. Earth tubes can also be setup to use hot water as a heat source for heating, cold water, ice or ice and sawdust as a cold source for cooling, and the ground as a heat sink for temperature regulation.

Depending on sunlight, location and orientation, solar transpired air collectors can raise incoming air temperatures by 25-75 degrees. Incoming air typically comes from outside, but if incoming air came from inside a building to be heated and continually re-heated, solar transpired air collectors could be more effective, and heat building interiors faster. With better insulation and heat storage, solar transpired collectors could also heat buildings for longer, even when it is cloudy or dark.

Solar evacuated tube water heating systems can provide all your hot water needs year round, almost anywhere in the world, and use very little to no electricity. Solar evacuated tube water heaters can also be used as a hot water source for space heating (i.e., via radiant floor heating or hot water baseboard heaters for example) or other eco-friendly, energy saving and producing applications. If the water storage tank is installed above the collector, the thermosyphon effect can be used instead of an electric pump to circulate water. While closed-looped solar water heating systems typically use anti-freeze to keep water from freezing during the winter, open-looped drain back systems can use water as the heat transfer fluid without anti-freeze (without additional insulation, in the case of solar evacuated tube water heaters).

Hot water baseboard radiators or radiant floor heating systems can be used in both space heating and air conditioning. Hot water (from any source, even a solar evacuated tube hot water heater) or cold water can be pumped through hot water baseboard heaters or a radiant floor heating system for radiant space heating or passive cooling. A very small amount of electricity is often used to pump water and move more air through the system to heat and cool more space faster, but such systems use no refrigerants, ammonia, or fuels of any kind. If used for both space heating and cooling however, radiant heating systems such as baseboard radiators are more energy efficient and effective at mid-level than at floor level.

To increase ventilation and reduce the need for air conditioning during the summer, use passive ventilation and cooling methods, such as opening windows, blinds and/or curtains at night and closing them early in the morning, before the sun begins heating up the home.

Thermoelectric Heating and Cooling
Thermoelectric heating and cooling systems such as peltier space heaters and coolers, thermoelectric water heaters, refrigerators and freezers, use electricity as a power source to produce hot and cold temperatures. The process may also be reversed to produce electricity from temperature differences. Thermoelectric refrigeration, freezing, heating and cooling devices are usually eco-friendly, have no moving parts, and do not use refrigerants or fuels of any kind. Compared with traditional methods of refrigeration, freezing, heating and cooling however, thermoelectric heating and cooling is typically only about 4-10% energy efficient, and short lived. Yet the efficiency and lifespan of thermoelectric heat pumps, heaters, coolers, refrigerators, freezers and other devices, has been increasing greatly over the last several years. Thermoelectric devices are now extremely durable, getting much easier to produce, more affordable, energy efficient and effective as emerging green energy technologies progress.

Stirling Heating And Cooling
Stirling engines provide hot and cold temperatures from electricity or vise versa (i.e., electricity from temperature differences), without refrigerants or fuels of any kind. These heat engines have moving parts, but are generally difficult to find or build. Use of Stirling engines and cycles are generally limited ships, large boats, cogeneration plants and cryogenics, with very little being available to the general public.

Refrigeration and Freezing

Most refrigerators use about 5% or more of all electricity in the average home, and nearly all of them use chemical refrigerants that contribute to pollution, ozone depletion, climate change and global warming. Eco-friendly, energy efficient refrigerators and freezers, such as solar powered or thermoelectric units may be used instead however. While most solar powered units use electricity as a power source, and ammonia, propane or some form of alternative refrigerants, thermoelectric units are environmentally friendly, have no moving parts and use electricity for power, but require no refrigerants or fuels of any kind to refrigerate and freeze.

A root cellar can be used for storing foods at an average of 50-60 degrees F all year round, and many foods will keep well for months under the proper conditions (i.e., temperature, light and humidity). Most dried, freeze dried and canned foods will keep for at least a year in a cellar.

An icehouse may be used in addition to or instead of a refrigerator and freezer, for refrigeration and freezing of any food year round, depending on available space and food storage needs. Like a root cellar, an icehouse is built at least partially underground, to use the earth for year round passive cooling and temperature regulation. Unlike a root cellar however, an icehouse is built with space between it and another thick wall around it, which is filled with ice or ice and sawdust (for thermal cold storage) each winter.

Cooking

Induction cookstoves, which heat cookware made of metals with high resistivity such as steel, carbon, tin or tungsten, by means of electromagnetic induction, are typically faster, safer, and more energy efficient than traditional gas and electric stoves. Because induction cookers usually have a flat cooking surface and heat the cookware rather than heating coils or burning gas, there is no danger of accidental burning, and cleanup is easier. Induction cookers use a strong electromagnetic field and radio frequencies to convert electricity into heat energy however, so they emit a certain amount of EM and RF energy, which can interfere with nearby radio frequencies, pacemakers, computers and other electronic equipment.

Conventional microwave ovens emit microwaves that can thoroughly heat foods without necessarily cooking them. A microwave can heat food quickly and efficiently, but cannot brown or cook food the way convection ovens can, nor reach the temperatures that traditional or convection ovens can. Some microwave ovens also contain beryllium oxide, a toxic chemical and carcinogen. It is therefore possible for long-term exposure of microwave radiation to have a carcinogenic effect. Additional potenial health effects of microwave radiation can include radioactivity in blood cells, reduced hemoglobin values (which can cause anemia), low HDL (good) cholesterol (a reduction of which can cause heart disease), less lymphocytes and leukocytes (iwhite blood cells, a reduction of which can increase susceptibility to infection). Convection ovens on the other hand, are usually more energy efficient, can heat food faster and operate at lower temperatures than conventional and microwave ovens because hot air is continually circulated around foods being cooked. Unlike a microwave oven, convection ovens enable the browning, roasting and grilling of foods as well.

There are many health related reasons not to eat foods that require cooking, especially animal products. Sometimes however, we simply cannot resist the undeniably delicious aroma of baked bread, the mouth watering taste of homemade desserts, or the ability of a home cooked meal to warm us up and 'hit the spot'. Whether or not you find this pleasurable will of course depend on the cook … but eating more fresh living foods when available, and using a solar cooker in the summer instead of an electric stove and oven are great ways to save energy.

Lighting

Lighting consumes almost 25% of all electricity generated in the US. Most buildings are illuminated with electric lighting, which is powered by electricity and provides illumination via some form of incandescent or non-incandescent light source. Other light sources include fuels (such as oil, biodiesel, alcohol, ethanol, kerosene, hydrogen, methane, natural gas, carbon monoxide, propane, butane, acetylene or ethylene), candles, and sunlight.

Incandescent Lighting
Incandescent light bulbs produce light by using electricity to heat a piece of metal called a 'filament' (usually made of tungsten) until it glows. Bulbs rated at less than 40W usually have the air removed to form a vacuum, and use no toxic materials to produce light. Incandescent light sources tend to be practical, earth friendly and affordable, but are the least energy efficient method of lighting available, and short lived. About 90% of the energy used by incandescent light bulbs for example, is converted to heat, only 10% of the energy is used to provide illumination, and they only have a lifespan of only 1000-2000 hours. Some incandescent light sources (such as incandescent light bulbs rated over 40 watts, and some of the newer incandescent light bulbs) contain inert gases such as argon, krypton or nitrogen, as well as toxic chemicals, gases (such as halogens) or heavy metals in place of evacuated air, to increase energy efficiency, safety, and preserve the filaments to increase lifespan of the bulbs.

Gas Discharge And Solid State Lighting
Non-incandescent light sources generally include gas discharge lamps (such as fluorescent, CFL and neon tubes or bulbs), and solid state lamps (such as LED, OLED, PHOLED, EL, ESL and OLET light bulbs, lamps, tubes, panels or wires). Fluorescent tubes and CFL (compact fluorescent lamps) use electricity to excite mercury vapor to produce UV light, causing a phosphor to fluoresce, producing visible light. Neon lighting uses electricity and neon or other gases to produce light. Solid state lamps use semiconductors to convert electricity into light without having to activate a gas (as in fluorescent or neon lighting) or heating a filament (as in incandescent lighting). Non-incandescent light sources can be up to 90% more energy efficient than incandescent light bulbs, and last up to 100 times longer than their incandescent counterparts. Nearly all non-incandescent light sources currently on the market however, contain extremely rare, nonrenewable resources, toxic chemicals or heavy metals, such as metal halides, neon, krypton, xenon, mercury, phosphors, gallium arsenide, aluminum gallium arsenide, gallium arsenide phosphide, alluminum gallium indium phosphide, gallium (III) phosphide, indium gallium nitride/gallium (III) nitride, zinc selenide, diamond, boron nitride, aluminum nitrides, gallium nitrides, poly(p-phenylene vinylene), polyfluorine, indium tin oxide or poly(methylmethacrylate) -- which contribute to environmental pollution, are difficult and expensive to manufacture, and pose significant health risks to many biological life forms. Some non-incandescent light sources also use RF energy, microwave radiation or magnetic induction to produce light, which may be earth friendly, but could interfere with radio waves, pose potential health risks, or have adverse electromagnetic effects on nearby electronic equipment. All of these non-incandescent light sources have environmental drawbacks, but some companies have been producing porous silicon based solid state light sources that are similar to LEDs and Quantum Dot Display technologies, but are affordable, truly eco-friendly and nontoxic (depending on methods used to produce porous silicon). ELD (electroluminescent display) panels and screens can also be earth friendly, more affordable, energy efficient and long lasting than most other lighting technologies, depending on the materials and methods used to produce them.

Gas Lighting
Fuels provide illumination when burned directly. Burning fuels to produce light is more energy efficient than electrical incandescent lighting, but the burning of any fuel is a fire hazard, all fuels burned must continually be replaced, and all fuels except for hydrogen (if produced via electrolysis, using renewable energy sources) contribute to pollution, and may have adverse health effects. While the production and burning of hydrogen may be done in a sustainable manner, hydrogen can also be explosive, and difficult to store safely.

Candle Light
Candles provide light as the wick burns. Up until recently, candles were typically made from beeswax, but they can also be made from soybean wax. Soy wax is usually made from partially hydrogenated soybean oil, but it can also be made from saturated fats (such as stearic acid) of soybean and/or other oils. Generally, the more saturated fats used in making candles from fats and oils, the harder the candles tend to be. Candles however, are a fire hazard, and must continually be replaced.

Sunight
Daytime lighting is easily obtained from sunlight through windows, sky lights, light tubes or optical fibers during the day. Instead of turning on a light when there is light available outside, open a curtain or a blind to let in some sunlight.

Laundering

A steam washer and dryer can save up to 75% of the water, and at least 30% of the energy used by most washers and dryers on the market today. Laundry can also be dried on clothes lines outside in the summer, or on laundry racks indoors during the winter.
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