In this second part of our Earth Week series we will feature articles on the topic of "Energy – Renewable energy and efficiency at home and at work". This next article is written by Jeff Tome, Senior Naturalist at the Audubon Center and Sanctuary near Jamestown, NY. At the Audubon Center, Jeff spearheaded conservation efforts to cut electricity bills in half. Signs throughout the center showcase easy ways for people to cut electricity use at home or in businesses.
How would you like to have an extra thousand dollars to spend this year? If you are anything like me, a thousand extra dollars sounds pretty nice. It turns out that a few electricity saving tips, and a $50 - $100 investment, can save you up to a thousand dollars or more a year.
Wasting electricity is like any bad habit; it takes a little bit of thought to change. Luckily, it’s an easier habit to break than cigarettes. In fact, there are a few changes you can make now and then not think about it again.
It’s really easy. One teacher used the things in this article to drop her electricity bill from $211 a month to $91 a month. In one year, she saved enough to go on a nice vacation. Saving electricity saves money, and a few things can save you a lot of green.
Light bulbs are an easy change. The old style light bulbs are being phased out and the new compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs are much more efficient. If you hate that horrid fluorescent light, try a newer bulb. New CFLs make light without that odd yellowish color to it that the old ones had. If you hate how long it takes for a CFL bulb to light up, there are new “instant on” ones that can be purchased at hardware stores that light up fast. If you don’t like the mercury in each bulb, they can’t make one without it, but you can recycle your bulbs at Lowes or Home Depot and some other hardware chains so that the mercury doesn’t go into the environment.
The interesting thing is, just changing the bulbs will save 70% off your lighting costs regardless of whether you remember to turn the lights off when they are not being used.
Turn off your computer. A computer left on 24 hours a day all year will cost over $200 to run each year. That’s without the cost of leaving the modem on all the time or leaving the printer and speakers on. Turn off the peripherals when you turn off the computer and you can save even more money. As for it being better for the computer to leave it on, it’s not true with today’s technology.
Have trouble remembering to turn everything off? Don’t worry, there’s an easy solution. There are “smart power strips” that remember for you. They work like this: the computer is plugged into a part of the power strip that senses when the computer is shut off. When the computer is off, it cuts power to everything else. So, turn off the computer, and power is automatically shut off to the printer, speakers, modem and other things only used by the computer. The same strip is great for the TV. Plug in the TV so that when the TV is off, power is cut to the DVD player, VCR, and video games. (Some video games, by the way, have been shown to use as much electricity as a refrigerator.)
Old freezers use lots of electricity. At the Audubon Center and Sanctuary, where I work, I found one old freezer that used as much electricity in one month as my house. Unplugging it saved 30% off the electric bill. In other words, a new one pays for itself in just over three months.
Conservation just makes sense. It saves money. It reduces our impact on the environment. Most of all, why pay extra for electricity that’s not being used? Personally, I would rather use the money on a nice vacation.
To learn more about Audubon's conservation efforts, visit www.jamestownaudubon.org.