If you’re looking for energy-saving tips or products, you need go no further than your home computer. A quick Google search for “energy tips” yields about 60 million hits. That’s right, 60,000,000.
Now I must confess that I didn’t check every one of them so I could recommend only the very best. But a relatively quick search of Google’s list yields some gems.
Perhaps the most impressive was the site developed by the federal government, www1.eere.energy.gov/consumer/tips.
The feds’ site is large and contains useful information on insulation and sealing air leaks, heating and cooling, water heating, windows, lighting, appliances, home electronics, driving and car maintenance, renewable energy and numerous references to other sources of information.
Two of the site’s tidbits were particularly interesting.
First, heating bills can be lowered by making sure south-facing windows in your house are kept especially clean during the winter. Several cleanings are recommended to make sure ample sunshine finds it easy to penetrate windows.
Second, and perhaps most interesting, was the fact that many appliances continue to draw a small amount of power when they are switched off. That usage is called “phantom loads,” and it happens with VCRs, televisions, stereos, computers and kitchen appliances. In the average home, about 75 percent of electricity consumed by these appliances is used while they are turned off. It is recommended that the appliances be unplugged when not in use or, with groups of appliances, a power strip be used and turned off when none of the appliances are in use.
The second site I found impressive was www.ase.org, which is the site for the Alliance to Save Energy. This group stresses that energy efficiency is the quickest, cheapest, cleanest way to extend the world’s energy supplies.
The site offered advice in many areas with particularly useful sections on tax credits, programmable thermostats and the money that can be saved in some states by running clothes washers, dishwashers and other electric appliances outside of peak usage hours, or basically in the evening.
The sites built by most electric utilities offer advice. One of the most impressive is www.exeloncorp.com. Exelon is a utility based in Chicago and the site offers especially good advice to business owners.
Bangor Hydro-Electric Co.’s site, www.bhe.com, offers advice on the use of refrigerators, freezers, washers and dryers, dishwashers, ranges and ovens, water beds, heating and cooling and the use of light bulbs.
The last site I recommend is actually a retail site, although it also offers tips. The site – www.theenergyalternative.com – offers products most viewers would find tempting.
First of all, it sells 15 different types of energy-efficient light bulbs as well as lighting products designed to diffuse light in an efficient manner. Some of the fixtures are quite attractive.
The energy alternative also has controls for fan speed, motion sensors for lighting, lamp controls and lamp dimmers. There are also energy meters to measure power consumed by any household appliance.
There is an especially interesting section on solar-powered devices. Most have a relatively small, unobtrusive solar panel that typically can supply all the power the device needs, meaning it doesn’t have to be hard-wired.
These items include accent lights, car chargers, solar-powered outdoor lights and solar-powered, lighted street numbers, so rural properties can be found more easily at night.
As a rural dweller, I found the solar-powered lights interesting in the sense that they could be installed without running a wire to them, either undergound or over a dooryard.
They would be handy for dark areas of the property that might be used at night, or near gardens or other areas that it would be nice to access at night but aren’t near the house or other building.