Friday, February 8, 2002
Green Corner Keeping your cool (and heat)
After transportation and food, household operations have the biggest impact on the environment of all of our individual actions. By saving energy in the home, we are also saving money, conserving resources, and reducing pollution. This is a good time of the year to be reminded of some energy-saving tips in the two most important areas of concern:
· heating, hot water, and air conditioning
· appliances and lighting
The most important thing people can do to save energy in their homes is to make sure their furnaces are running efficiently. A furnace tune up (test for combustion efficiency, test for pollutants such as carbon monoxide, cleaning, adjustment) every two years (every year for oil furnaces) can reduce fuel costs by 5 percent. KeySpan, Carlisle's gas company, will perform a gas furnace tune up of the pilot, burner, safety valve, controls, thermostat and motors. Furnaces more than 25 years old are candidates for replacement because an investment of $2,500 may save $200 per year in energy costs. Natural gas is a good option because gas furnaces are 95 percent efficient, resulting in low emissions of toxic air pollution (sulfur oxide and nitrogen oxide, causes of acid rain) and only moderate amounts of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide).
A programmable thermostat allows avoiding heating/cooling a house at night or when no one is home. Often the heat can be turned off completely in rooms that are not being used. One way of getting some free heat (and saving AC cooling costs) is to open the shades of south facing windows in winter (shutting them when the sun moves away) and closing these same shades in summer. Hot water heaters can be set down to 130 degrees F. To avoid heat loss, water heaters can be wrapped in an insulating blanket, and hot water pipes in insulation. Filters in forced air heating systems and air conditioners should be replaced every month to reduce energy use. To save hot water, low-flow shower heads and faucet aerators can be installed easily oneself.
KeySpan will perform free residential energy audits (1-800-292-2032). They also offer a free booklet on energy-saving tips, and rebates on energy- efficient clock thermostats ($50), water heaters ($100), furnaces ($400), and windows ($1 per square foot).
For more information, see 50 Simple Things You Can Do To Save the Earth, The EarthWorks Group, 1989. (Appliances and lighting tips will be discussed next week).
© 2002 The Carlisle Mosquito