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    www.surfersam.com > Surfer Sam Magazine > Save Energy

14 Ways to Cut Your Energy Bill in Half
Save Money and Conserve Energy. Live Green


The truth is plain as the nose on your face. Energy is expensive and we waste too much of it. Saving energy and money is a green solution to future shortages. We once thought that we had a right to cheap and limitless electricity. Now we know that energy is limited and that its cost will never be cheap. We are learning to use energy wisely. Try these 14 ways to cut your energy bill in half, and reduce energy needs while you save money.

We are hooked into a way of life that uses too much energy from sources that are not renewable. Our energy comes mostly from petroleum, about 40%, and from natural gas, about 23% and from coal, about 22%. These Big Three Fossil Fuels provide energy for electricity, heat and transportation, both residential and industrial.

The world uses about 80 million barrels of oil every day, and usage is increasing steadily. Even though oil prices have risen, oil is still a cheap fuel compared to alternative energy sources. Oil is a dense fuel because one gallon of oil converts into a lot of energy. When itís refined, one gallon of gas packs enough wallop to drive a three-ton SUV 20 miles down the road at 60 miles an hour. However, all the underground petroleum we know about will be gone within 50 years.

The worldís coal reserves are expected to last another 300 years. Although coal burns easily, and is used to fire many power plants for electricity, there are drawbacks. It has been difficult to clean up the pollution caused by burning coal. In addition, the process of mining coal scars the landscape and causes health problems.

The world supply of natural gas is expected to last 50 to 80 years, unless new discoveries are made. The US imports most of its natural gas, which comes in liquid form on ocean tankers. Natural gas is stored in giant terminals on the coastline and piped all around the country as needed.

Another drawback to relying on petroleum and natural gas is that they often are bought from foreign countries, thus transferring American dollars outside the country and worsening the balance of payments. There are both economic and political consequences to our dependence on foreign energy sources.

It is possible to make significant petroleum savings by using energy more carefully. Several years ago, California families experienced energy brownouts and rolling blackouts from energy shortages. They pitched in to solve the problem and voluntarily reduced their energy consumption by 11%. This encourages us that our individual conservation efforts can also be effective.

Energy is required for heating, cooking, industrial production and transportation. The most obvious tactic to reduce energy usage is to use less. Some of our power use is necessary and some isnít. Our decisions about how to live and where to live affect energy usage.

14 Ways to Conserve Energy and Save Money on Your Energy Bill

  1. How far you live from your work determines how much gas you need for transportation. Using public transportation whenever itís available saves energy and, as a side benefit, gives you time for reading. We can save lots of energy by reducing the miles we drive, simply by combining our errands and using the car less.

  2. Car drivers can save fuel by watching the speedometer. A car or truck moving at 55 miles an hour can get about 15 percent better fuel economy than the same car going 65 mph. The faster you drive over 55 miles an hour, the worse your fuel efficiency.

  3. Around the house, heating and cooling systems use the most energy, close to half. Adding insulation around the house will also cut down on energy use. The U.S. Department of Energy says the houses with poorly insulated doors and windows lose as much energy as the Alaskan pipeline can deliver each year. Imagine that! Insulating the attic will also pay for its cost quickly in energy savings.

  4. To save on your heating bill, set the furnace thermostat lower. If you lower the thermostat gradually, over a period of weeks, you will get used to the lower temperature.

  5. Save energy by turning off the electrical items you are not using. This means shutting off the lights when you leave the room. It means turning off the television when nobody is watching it. It costs about $45 a year to run the television every day, 10 hours a day, so the savings are small, but they are easy to come by. And there may be other non-financial benefits to watching less television.

  6. Saving energy also means turning off the computer if itís not going to be used for two hours, and turning off the monitor if it isnít needed for the next twenty minutes or more. Itís best to turn off the power strip, too, because even a computer that has been shut down continues to use some energy.

  7. An old furnace could be about 67% energy efficient, while the better new models are 97% efficient. Consider replacing an outdated furnace as a cost-effective investment.

  8. New refrigerators are much more energy efficient than older models. Today a new refrigerator costs about $55 a year to run, versus the $160 a year it cost to run a refrigerator in 1973. Replacing an older model refrigerator is a cost effective way of saving energy. Energy is also wasted needlessly by running a free-standing freezer or a second refrigerator in the garage or basement, usually an older model.

  9. Lights use about 34% of the electricity generated in the U.S. Youíve seen those compact fluorescent bulbs, the corkscrew shape that works in any household lamp. They need 66% to 75% less electricity than an incandescent bulb and they last ten times as long. Their longer life and energy savings will easily compensate for the higher purchase price. Try compact fluorescent bulbs in your most used reading lamps.

  10. There are opportunities to save energy in the kitchen and laundry room, too. Newer appliances, like refrigerator, washer, dryer and dishwasher, are much more energy efficient than older models, so replacing old appliances whenever you can is usually cost effective, in that the energy savings over time more than pays you back for the purchase price.

  11. Run the dishwasher only with a full load. And when itís done, donít use the heated drying cycle. Instead, open the door and allow the dishes to air dry.

  12. A shower uses less hot water than a bath. And there is more energy to be saved if you take shorter showers. Installing a low-flow showerhead will save about 33% on the hot water used.

  13. The energy to run a load of clothes in the dryer costs about 50 cents. The alternative, hanging clothes to air dry, can be another way to save energy if you have the time and inclination. There is nothing better than the fragrance of clothes dried outside in the sunshine.

  14. Keeping score of your energy savings is motivating. Some utility companies include with their bill a chart that shows month by month your energy usage for the past year. Itís exciting to see that this monthís energy usage is lower than the same month last year. The chart tells us that our efforts to conserve energy are working. With these tips you can cut your energy consumption in half.

I hope life brings you much success. I wish you a very happy day.
-----     Surfer Sam  



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