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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

6 Easy Refrigerator Energy Efficiency Tips

Start lowering utility bills right now!

1. Keep it full. A full refrigerator needs to work less to keep things inside cold. That's because the greater mass of already cold items in the refrigerator helps keep the temperature down.

2. Improve air circulation. Good air circulation around the refrigerator keeps it running cool. Allow about 2 inches of airspace around your refrigerator. Good air circulation will make the compressor work more efficiently, and that will have a significant impact on the unit's overall efficiency -- a 5 degree decrease in the surrounding air temperature can reduce energy usage by 20 percent!

To help reduce the energy consumption of refrigerator models that have exposed coils, periodically brush them so that they remain dust free.

If you don't have a coil cleaning brush, many are available from Amazon:

Refrigerator Coil Brushes

3. Turn off the ice maker. If you can bear using ice trays, you can cut refrigerator electricity use by as much as 14 percent if you don't use the ice maker in your freezer.

4. Set the dial to 40 degrees. If your unit is full and if there is good air circulation around the unit, you can lower the unit to 40 degrees -- okay, 37 degrees if you must. But you don't have to keep it on the coldest setting.

To test inside temperature, place a thermometer in a class of water overnight.

5. Check the door seals. A good seal keeps the cold air inside. Visually inspect the seal for gaps or leaks.

Check out how:



A handyman can replace a broken seal, or you can do it yourself:



6. Close the door! Sounds so simple, but it's also so true. Just ask any 4th Grader!

If you can afford it, buy a new refrigerator. Any unit older than 15 years is probably ready to be retired. Newer units were designed to stricter energy efficiency standards, which means a newer unit will help in lowering utility bills.

Check with your utility to see whether they're offering a rebate on high efficiency models. Or look up the ENERGY STAR website's online appliance rebate locator tool.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Look for the ENERGY STAR Label

Buying a new appliance, furnace or air conditioner? Use this governmental "seal of approval" as your guide to finding high-energy efficiency equipment.

Lowering utility bills while living comfortably is the goal of all consumers.

When buying gasoline, we use the published prices of service stations as our guide for identifying the best deals. We can do the same for electricity and gas purchases, thanks to the U.S. government.

In the 1980s, the U.S. Department of Energy started to look for ways to help consumers identify the estimated electricity or natural gas usage of a particular appliance. They created an EnergyGuide label that estimated how much energy an appliance uses, compared the use of similar products, and listed approximate annual operating costs.

Later, this evolved into a system whereby specific high energy efficiency standards were developed, and appliances that met or exceeded those standards were identified and given a special recognition: The ENERGY STAR designation.

The government now has a dedicated ENERGY STAR website (http://www.energystar.gov/).

ENERGY STAR covers everything from home design to appliances. Here's what the government says about appliance energy usage and cost for the average citizen of the United states:
Did you know that the average home spends about $2,000 on energy bills every year? Change to appliances that have earned the ENERGY STAR, and you can save $75 a year in energy costs, while saving the environment.
In addition, the government has used the website to help you identify rebates from your state or your local utility. This is a simple-to-use web-based appliance rebate locator tool.

I encourage you to use it!

I replaced a clothes washer and dryer, refrigerator and dishwasher, and collected $125 in rebates from electric and water utilities. That's on top of increasing my energy efficiency and lowering my utility bills.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Beaming Solar Power from Outer Space

Why this is a distraction and you'd be better off investing in energy efficiency and reducing your utility bills.

The large electric and gas utility in California, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), has announced it wants the local regulatory agency to approve a deal with a third-party power producer to buy electricity generated from a space-based "solar farm" that would be, in fact, a solar power generation satellite.

The idea is that the contractor would put solar panels in space to generate electricity that would be sent -- via radio waves -- to the the utility's transmission and distribution grid in northern and central California, for use by the utility's customers.

The utility announced that the project would generate enough electricity to meet the needs of 240,000 residential customers. Space-based solar power is expected to be available starting in 2016.

Here's a brief story about it. Here's a more robust article describing the deal in more detail.

Surely, each homeowner in this country could do a much better job than the utility if we take advantage of existing federal and state tax credits and rebates to install solar panels on our rooftops, for exclusive use in our homes?

I assume the estimated cost of launching solar panels into space must be in the several millions of dollars. I assume, also, that the energy-related cost of putting a satellite into space is a big component of the expense -- and so we are looking at making a significant energy investment to install a satellite power station. That does not make sense when more affordable market-tested energy investments are all around us.

Also, the final cost of the electricity being piped into the local grid would be more expensive than the cost of investing in existing technologies that would eliminate inefficient use of power. I have read that the cost to the utility customer of investing in energy efficiency is 2 cents for every kilowatt-hour saved. Today, the average cost of a kilowatt-hour in the United States is 11 cents. PG&E refused to reveal the final cost of the solar-based power -- but surely it will be far more than 2 cents a kilowatt-hour.

Finally, such satellites would probably be vulnerable in times of war, creating an unnecessary level of dependence on a space-based military. By the way, we really don't have a space-based military presence, except in terms of missiles that could shoot down satellites. Solar power stations would require creating a large-scale space-based anti-missile program, another significant investment that seems unnecessary.

This is another PR ploy, designed to get you and me to focus on the utility providing electricity for all of our needs.

This is not the way to true independence. Utility-scale solar-based generation would be great, but only after (1) we've figured out how to build it inexpensively and (2) we've figured out how to store the electricity it generates in a safe and affordable manner for use during those long winter afternoons and evenings.

The best bet is to invest now in your own house and your own independence -- by improving the building's energy efficiency, thereby reducing your dependence on utility-scale generation.

Further, if you can afford to take advantage of current state and local tax credits and rebates for installing your own photovoltaic solar panels, then look into it. A friend of mine is looking into installing a 4-kilowatt rooftop PV system -- for only $1,000 a kilowatt once all credits and rebates have been included. In economic terms, this is considered a very affordable way to use solar power for reducing utility bills.

For more information and for readily available solar power technologies, take a look at this link: Solar Power Resources from Amazon

Here's one book I've just started reading:

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Break from Energy Efficiency:

The Dos and Don’ts of Turning Off Your Gas and/or Electricity in Case of an Emergency

I will take a break today from my main Energy Efficiency and Lowering Utility Bills theme to remind everyone that April marks the anniversary of San Francisco, California’s, great earthquake and fire of 1906.

This make it a good time to mention disaster planning concerning utility services.

As it did in 1906, and as happened the recent tragic events in the Abruzzo region of Italy, severe earthquakes strike without warning.

Even areas not prone to tremors sometimes get them (read about a quake in Alabama).

This means that now is the best time to plan what you would do in the event of a disaster.

Disaster can wear many masks: It can be caused by major storms, fierce winds, fire, or quakes. It may be only a local problem, only endangering your family and neighbors. But whatever the causes, electric and natural gas safety may be a major concern. Sometimes -- but not always -- the emergency may be such that you have to turn off utility services yourself.

What does a meter look like?

The Energy Saver Guy provides a brief demo on YouTube. Take a look.



Now that you know what your meters should look like, here is a basic overview of how you can turn off your electricity and gas in an emergency. However, take a moment after your read this to also visit your local electric and gas companies’ websites for specific local advice about how you should respond to an emergency.


Electricity
  1. Fuses or circuit breakers are usually located in the metal box near where the main power line enters the house
  2. Fuses or circuit breakers should automatically shut off all electricity, or electricity to one or more branch circuits, in the event of trouble. So you should not have to turn off electricity yourself in case of an emergency.
  3. To restore service, replace the fuse or reset the breaker. However, do NOT try to restore service if there are signs of heat damage to wires or to the fuse box or circuit breaker box!
  4. NOTE: If you smell natural gas near your main electric meter or switch box, do NOT attempt to shut off the electricity! As always, evacuate the area and call your local utility or 9-1-1 from a location away from the gas leak.
  5. If you are uncertain how to restore electric service, contact your local utility for help.

Natural Gas

MOST IMPORTANT PRECAUTIONS:
  1. Do not turn off the gas to your house UNLESS you detect the odor of natural gas, see damaged pipes, or see or hear gas escaping from your pipes.
  2. If you smell, see or hear a gas leak, immediately leave your house or the area near the leak. Do NOT telephone for help from inside the house or anywhere near the leak. Your phone could generate a tiny spark that may ignite the gas and cause serious injury or death.
  3. Do NOT turn light switches or electrical appliances on or off. Do not light matches. Do not ring your door bell. These also can ignite the gas.
  4. Do NOT start your car or open your garage door.
  5. Leave the vicinity of the leak and then telephone 9-1-1 and/or your local utility.
Why all this extra fuss about gas leaks?

Leaking gas pipes were responsible for many of the fires that broke out across San Francisco early that morning of April 18, 1906. The fires ended up killing more people and inflicting greater damage than the earthquake that came before them.

Also, natural gas generally is very safe. However, in the rare event of a gas explosion, the effects can be catastrophic!

You may have to turn off gas at the meter.

If you cannot call 9-1-1 or your local utility for help, then you may have to shut off the gas at the meter.

The main shut off valve is located on the pipe next to the meter. Use a wrench to give it a quarter turn either way.

Once the gas is off it must be left off. Do not attempt to turn on the gas yourself. Only a qualified gas service professional from the local utility can re-establish service.

Do not turn the valve in any direction after shutting off your service.


An Eyewitness Account of the 1906 San Francisco Quake and Fire

Jack London, the American author of Call of the Wild and other exciting stories, lived near San Francisco when the earthquake and fire swept through the city. Here is his published account.

In addition, London took many photos of the ruins.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

How to Caulk the Outside of Your Home and Save Energy

Caulking does two big things: it keeps heated or air-conditioned air inside, and it keeps summer heat and winter cold outdoors.

To help improve energy efficiency and lower utility bills, make sure the outside of your home is sealed against the elements with caulking.

Caulking should be used where windows and doors meet the walls, wherever two different construction materials meet, and wherever to different parts of a house are joined.

Check these possible air leaks on the outside of your home:
  • Between siding and window or door frames
  • Between siding and drip caps, such as those above sliding doors
  • Beneath window sills at the siding
  • Where chimneys and stocks meet the roof
  • At all corners in the siding
  • Between any protrusions and the main part of the house
Caulking compounds may be bought in bulk for use with a full-barrel caulking gun. However, you’ll probably use disposable cartridges for use in a drop-in caulking gun. Caulking come in various materials and grades. Speak to the professionals in your hardware store to determine the right grade of caulking for use outdoors.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to be sure you get a continuous bead of caulking to seal all cracks. Use filler material before caulking on all cracks more than 3/8-inch wide.

There are a few important points to remember:
  • Remove all old and crumbling caulking before you attempt to repair or replace
  • The caulking bead must be wide enough to adhere to both sides of the crack you are filling
  • Your fingers, putty knife, and a razor knife or screwdriver are your most valuable caulking tools
Don’t try to do your entire home in a day. Be thorough. Take your time. Clean up as you go: Many caulking materials are difficult to clean once the have had a chance to set up.

Monday, April 20, 2009



Showers: Cutting Back Saves Energy

Short showers cut back on natural gas or electricity, and save water too

When I was a kid, my Uncle Jack--an ex-Navy man--first introduced me to the concept of the Navy shower. It was simple. He'd shout -- in this incredibly loud voice -- "Hey, Butt Brain! Stop wasting water!"

I'd be staying over at his house during summer vacation and in the shower for 15 or 20 minutes. At my home I was used to long, hot showers.

Uncle Jack didn't know it then, but he was talking to me about energy efficiency.

He did know that he was talking to me about lowering his utility bills. In those days, money was still money, and waste was still waste!

A Navy shower is a two-minute shower that cut water usage back enormously. Mainly, it's the hot water that's being cut back.

That can really slash the water-heating portion of your utility bill. One article I read suggests showers represent two-thirds of all water heating costs. The remainder involves dish and clothes washing.

A typical ten minute shower can use up to 60 gallons of water. Almost all of it hot. That's about all the hot water in a typical water heater tank (in my house, we have a 40 gallon water heater).

A so-called Navy shower uses only two gallons of water.

Here's how you do it:
  1. Just turn on the shower, get wet and then turn it off.
  2. Lather up, shampoo the hair, shave, and so on.
  3. Then turn it on and rinse off.
I admit a Navy shower in the summertime is a lot easier when it's warmer. On a cold winter's morning, it can be a serious challenge.

One way around this, is a low flow showerhead.

You can stay in the shower longer and use less water after you install a low-flow shower head. These can be purchased at a fairly reasonable price, they are easy to install, and they can generate a strong enough stream of water to get the soap out of your hair.

If you’re not shy, then shower with a friend. You’ll be doubling up on the amount of hot water you use, and helping to save yourself some money.

Here's a page of shower heads you can by:
Low Flow Showerheads

And just for fun: a shower with a friend tee-shirt, retro-Seventies style:

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Energy Efficiency Window Films

Improve energy efficiency of windows and lower utility bills and household energy use this summer


In writing this blog, my greatest concern is for people who are hit hard by this bad economy. According to some reports, that includes everyone in America.

The Impact of the Bad Economy
The bad economy may not cause you to lose your job. However, you may not get a raise, or you may have your pay or hours cut back. And your income, and mine, are under attack.

Businesses that used to be able to fund their growth by borrowing money with really cheap interest rates have to find another way to fund their growth. Rates, when loans are available, will be much higher. Loans are not going to be so readily available, however, because most businesses have really terrible credit ratings.

There is only one way to get the funds that are needed to keep the lights on and grow a business: increase prices.

We will have less income that can be considered 'disposable.' That means we have less money available to eat out, go to the cinema, go to a concert, get a new cell phone, buy music, take a trip to Disneyland or Vegas or Cancun.

This means we must extract as much value from every dollar we have. We will need to save more. We will need cars with better fuel efficiency. We will need homes that operate more efficiently.

Electricity Prices Will Rise
The economy will cause everything to go up in price: food, gasoline, clothing, rent. And, yes, electricity.

The Energy Information Administration estimates electricity prices will increase an average of 2% this year (2009) and about 1.7% in 2010. Rates will be especially high in summer, when air-conditioning is in use in most homes and, therefore, electricity is in greatest demand.

So we have to start finding a way to reduce electricity consumption. Let's begin with a area that is not too expensive. Let's start with windows.

Weatherize Windows: Energy Efficiency Windows
Start now, while the spring months are still cool to weatherize your home in preparation for the onslaught of the heat waves of the coming summer.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy,

"Windows can be one of your home's most attractive features. Windows provide views, daylighting, ventilation, and solar heating in the winter. Unfortunately, they can also account for 10% to 25% of your heating bill. During the summer, your air conditioner must work harder to cool hot air from sunny windows." (Source: Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy website, a division of the U.S. DOE)

The DOE recommends upgrading your windows to higher efficiency ENERGY STAR rated windows.

What if you happen to be a renter?

Your landlord may be able to upgrade the windows and take advantage of federal and state tax credits. That will depend on your landlord and his ability to fund this improvement, and that may unintentionally lead to an increase in your rent.

You then must look at shadings--curtains, drapes, shades, and window films. This blog focuses on window films.

Block Heat Gain, Let in Daylight
A good inexpensive option may be solar films that you apply directly to the glass of your windows.

Films are thin plastic films that you ally to the inside of the glass. Some films simply reduce the amount of light coming through the window. They reduce heat gain caused by sunlight. Other films also provide insulation. These are often called 'low-e' films. The film has metal included in the dyed material. As a result, they control light and heat.

I prefer the insulated window films. They are more expensive than simply tinting. However, they are also useful during the winter because they prevent the cold air from penetrating through the window glass. You can try to install these yourself. Supplies are available at some hardware stores as well as online. I recommend a Google search for the term: Window Film Tinting.

How Much Will You Really Save?
Some window film dealers' websites claim that customers' household utility bills will be lowered 10% to 25% after installing window shading. This I find hard to believe, unless you are in a house where nearly an entire south- and west-facing walls were made up of windows and sliding glass doors. Even then, it depends on whether you live in a particularly cold or hot climate.

In working in this profession of reporting on using energy conservation to lower utility bills, I know you will save money over time. The cost of electricity will increase. When I started in this business, electricity was less than 6 cents per kilowatt-hour purchased. Now it is nearly 12 cents per kilowatt-hour, and it is expected to double again in the coming decade.

That means we could be looking at 20 cents or more a kilowatt-hour.

So you will see savings, over time. And that is what this blog is about: cutting back on how much energy you need to use, while still living a comfortable life, and paying less for your electric utilities than you would have paid if you hadn't taken these steps.

Other Resources
This video provides a good explanation of why getting windows right matters when it comes to your controlling your utility bills.

These websites may provide some useful information, too:

http://www.smartenergyliving.org/cm/Energy_Efficiency/Window%20Coverings.html

http://www.blindschalet.com/kbc-energy-conservation-8.html

http://www.conservationconcepts.com/WindowTreatment.htm

By the way, I have no affiliation with these sites or their businesses. I am not endorsing them either. These are just additional resources.

Also, check out this site from the government:

And here is another interesting site focused on helping consumers reduce their utility bills through energy efficiency (I like this site):

http://www.lower-my-energybill.com/yourself-window-film.html

Friday, April 17, 2009

Why I Write Energy Efficiency and Lowering Utility Bills

More than 20 years ago, I started my career as a professional writer. My first subject was tax law--which I didn’t find interesting. After two years, I was hired by a utility, and my life-long interest in energy and utility industries began.

At the utility, I started out writing an advice column for utility customer service employees. The goal: explain the intricacies of utility billing and rates--and focus on showing employees how to teach customers to save energy and lower their electricity and natural gas bills.

I’ve returned to this theme for two reasons: After more than 20 years, people continue to throw away money on utility bills, and I deplore the waste. Most experts agree the price of electricity and natural gas will continue to climb, taking away what precious little remains of our disposable incomes.

In this bad economy, don’t throw away your money. Save it. According to some, saving money--instead of spending it--can be the most revolutionary act every American can take.

Also, many of us worry about the impact of energy production on the environment (I leave the debate on the true effect of greenhouse gas emissions to others). I worry about the impact on the environment, and I have also seen the skies clear up as a result of changes in how we produce and use electricity, natural gas, gasoline, and firewood (yes, firewood, too).

Someone once said, “Past is prologue.” I say, “It’s deja-vu all over again.” Or to put it in plain English, we’ve been here before and we know what we have to do.

In the 1970s, OPEC hit America with politically contrived oil shortages. The natural gas industry in the United States realized that it had run out of cheap natural gas supplies. Energy prices hit the roof. Consumers cried, “foul!”

But we began also to clean up our act. We started to use alternative energy and questioned whether we couldn’t do more with less.

Americans, being a can-do people, started a quiet revolution. American industry became energy-conscious, with the result that we produce far more from one kilowatt-hour of electricity or cubic foot of natural gas than we did 30, 20, or 10 years ago.

As quoted by Bill Prindle, former Acting Director of the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, "The U.S. economy uses half as much energy to produce a dollar of output today as we used in the 1970s." (See his 2007 testimony before the U.S. Senate.)

We can continue this remarkable achievement by using what we always use when pushed to extremes: innovation and common sense. Efficient technology and efficient thinking will increase our independence, help clean up our skies, and leave us more money in our pockets and savings accounts--where our money belongs.

That is why as a professional writer I have come back to this theme.

And why I encourage everyone to turn off the lights when the lights are no longer needed.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Four Free Ways to Start Your Utility Diet

Reducing utility bills is just like other forms of "reducing."

You can start your energy conservation program, without having to invest a single dollar. Here are four easy--and free--money saving tips:

1. Review electric and gas bills for the last 12 months.
Start with a review of your bills and set goals for how much you want to save. It's like dieting--you need to check in first to see how much you are spending. Check you utility's online service to see if you can access your bills via the Internet. Review your usage and fees. Then set goals for reducing your costs. Start with something reasonable: cut your use by 5% over the same time last year.

2. Turn of lights, appliances, televisions, computers, and so on whenever you leave the room. Like dieting, you just need to consume less. Start by turning off the PC at night, switching off your lights and television when you really aren't using them.

3. Avoid using heaters and furnaces. Feeling chilly? Try a sweater first, or sweats, before turning on a heater. Wrap up in a cozy blanket.

4. Get a free home energy audit. Your utility may have an online audit. If it doesn't, or if it seems to be too cumbersome, remember the US government has a Home Energy Audit tool online that you can use. And it is free for anyone to use.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Solar Power: Is Big Really Better?

An opinion that suggests utility-scale solar projects may be the wrong way to go.

Spenser Michaels' NewsHour story today about the solar energy industry had me thinking of that old saw about "deja vu all over again."

Michaels investigated whether solar is viable in this economy. Today, solar provides less than 1% of electricity in the USA. In spite of best efforts of many individuals, groups, and governments, the global credit crisis has put a drag on any new development of solar. Solar start-ups are unable to obtain funding to develop their technologies, bring their technologies to market, or expand proven technologies.

A handful of firms, such as BrightSource Energy, have secured important contracts with large utility end-users. See the New York Times story. A few determined companies will be able to grow in this difficult market.

But if the NewsHour reporter dug back far enough into the BrightSource Energy/SCE story he might have found out that SCE and BrightSource, which I think was named Luz International some 15 to 20 years ago, announced the same idea way back when--only to have Luz go bankrupt in the early 1990s after building some 300 MWs of solar generation in the Mojave Desert.

The reasons for the bankruptcy included changes in tax codes. In the 1980s, tax incentives were available for alternative energy developers. Similar tax incentives are being offered today. History tells us these incentives will disappear.

Also, the cost of solar when compared to other forms of energy generation was high--and regulators prevented utilities from passing on the costs to ratepayers. Regulators, who today support paying for higher cost renewable energy resources, may turn on utilities and forbid them to pass the costs along to consumers again.

But could it be that the real problem is that we're looking at this the wrong way? Are large scale solar projects the problem? They depend on huge amounts of capital, which is hard to get these days. They depend on the promise of large utilities to buy the power, which is difficult to do when you already have much cheaper and reliable electricity supplies available, and when regulators are liable to turn on you.

What about distributed power generation instead? A small solar plant on your roof top, with the power going into your home can be partially funded with tax credits. Technology is getting a little cheaper, so you might be able to install solar without going to the bank. And you keep the utility and speculators out of the equation, which recent history has proven--again--is much less expensive for ratepayers and society as a whole.

Just a thought. If you agree, check out these books:





Monday, April 13, 2009

More Summer Time Tips for Greater Energy Efficiency

Here are additional recommendations for beating high utility bills in the warm summer months.

Weatherstrip around your air-conditioning unit. This helps keep the cool air inside where it belongs, and the hot air outside. Also, weatherstrip windows and doors. If hot air leaks in through poorly caulked windows and doors, your air conditioning unit will have to work harder to compensate.

When installing shades and drapes on your windows, stick to light colors. White and other light colors reflect heat...away from your the interior part of your home. During the daylight hours, close shades and curtains on any windows that face the south, or the west. Daylight during the afternoon hours, 3 p.m. or thereabouts, is typically the hottest part of the day.

Can you afford window awnings? If you don't have any awnings and think you can afford them, install them on the windows facing the south and the west.

Use fans to circulate the interior air. Adjust the air conditioner thermostat to 78 degrees, unless you have a medical condition that requires that you have a cooler environment. (Do use the air conditioner...for many people, especially the elderly or sick, air conditioning is a matter of life or death!)

Visit a designated community cooling center. In many parts of the country, local governments, utilities, and senior organizations create air-conditioned spaces for local residents to go to when the heat becomes unbearable. These are open to public on the really, really hot days.

If you have no air conditioning, and need a place to cool off, or if you can't afford to run your air conditioner on those deadly high-degree days, visit a local cooling center. To find the cooling center closest to you, contact your local government or utility, and listen for announcements about center locations on the radio or television.

If a cooling center does not appear to be nearby, consider visiting the local library or an air-conditioned indoor shopping center. Movie theaters also offer relief...provided you can afford the cost of a movie ticket and you can find a movie you'd like to see.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Get Ready for Summer

Five fast fixes to make your home energy efficient in summer

Cutting energy use saves you money, which in this bad economy, is really important.

What’s more, utility rates will keep going up. In 2008, prices of natural gas, a popular fuel that is used in hundreds of power plants to generate electricity, jumped when the price for a barrel of oil topped out near $150. Utilities have been passing those cost increases on to customers.

That hurts, especially if your pay was cut or you’re out of work.

Electricity powers our air-conditioners, and air-conditioners are a big part of summertime utility bills for millions of Americans.

What to do?

Here are five sure-fire ways to reduce summertime bills:


1. Set the thermostat of your air conditioner to 78 degrees. That may sound like it’s too high, especially in some areas of the country. But keeping the thermostat to a level that delays turning on the machine is the best way to keep costs down.

2. Clean your air conditioner. Follow manufacturer’s instructions and thoroughly clean you’re A/C. Clear away leaves and other obstructions from outside condenser coils and grilles. Replace or clean filters. Make sure the fan spins freely. Oil the fan motor. Check duct insulation for tears and repair as needed.

3. Use natural cooling in mornings. Open the windows early and use the cool morning air to bring down the temperature in your home. Before the sun begins to bake the ground, however, close the windows and keep what cool air you’ve allowed into your home to stay there.

4. Shade out the sun. Draw draperies and shades, close shutters, or install awnings, solar screens, and reflective window screens to block out sunlight and heat. Even shading north windows, which are not directly affected by the sun, can help keep heat reflected from driveways, porches, and sidewalks.

5. Avoid using heat-producing appliances inside. On hot days and nights, try to not use your big heat generating appliances, such as the oven or dishwashers. Or wait until later in the evening when it is cooler. Hang your laundry outside instead of using a dryer. Cook outdoors or use the microwave.

Saturday, April 11, 2009



How to Cash in on the Green Economy

Want an job in the Green Economy? Looking for a job in IT? Then Get This Book.

IT professionals can leverage green to help make the world a better place, help their companies lower IT-related energy expenses, and create sustainable careers for the 21st Century.

This bad economy is bound to last a long time, and it is bound to remain in the memories of most adults working today. The key to surviving through the remainder of this decade is to keep your job, or if you've lost a job, to get a new one -- and keep it as long as you can.

The trick is to find a way to reinvent yourself so that what you do is relevant to themes and issues that are changing American business. Controlling emissions from autos and power plants are at the top of the list of issues that American business must deal with, and soon. Local and national regulations are going into place that have the potential to dramatically increase every organization's electricity bills. Energy-intensive data centers are sucking up millions of dollars annually, and when the costs of controlling greenhouse gas emissions are passed onto business customers, these organizations could see their energy bills increase dramatically -- perhaps even double.

So if you're in IT or want to get into IT, then pick up this book, The Greening of IT. This comprehensive text lays out the problem and provides clear recommendations for reducing IT-related energy usage in any organization. The book is relevant to anyone looking for a job in IT or a job in the green economy.

Recommendations from Amazon