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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 AppliancesElectric 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 CoolingSpace 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.
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.
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
Stirling Heating And Cooling
Refrigeration and FreezingMost 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.
CookingInduction 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.
LightingLighting 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.
Gas Discharge And Solid State Lighting
LaunderingA 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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