Want to Become an Energy-Conscious Home or Business Owner? Here's How.
From energy-saving light bulbs and light switches to solar path lights, this contributor offers some ideas for what to do.
There are good reasons why, as a nation, we have turned our collective consciousness to increasing energy efficiency in our homes, our businesses and our lives.
Although research tells us there are bipartisan divides regarding environmental issues, more than 75 percent of Americans are concerned about the environment and have a strong desire to modify their daily behavior to improve and address environmental issues.
From increasing our recycling efforts to volunteering for events to clean up rivers and lakes, more people are coming to understand how decades of burning fossil fuel, squandering natural resources and displaying careless disregard for waste disposal have seriously impacted our environment in a negative way.
You have only to look at how the weather has become increasingly more unpredictable and volatile to understand that, if we choose not to opt for improvements in how we think about, generate and utilize energy, we may be putting our future as a species at risk.
Home and property owners can change many things to increase energy efficiency with little or no effort or cost. There are also larger, more expensive and all-encompassing home improvements to consider.
Whether you worry about the high energy bill that might turn up in your mailbox from running air-conditioning all summer, or whether you lose sleep worrying about the future of our planet, you are likely one of the millions of people seeking to improve their environmental consciousness, decrease their own carbon footprint and streamline household or business budgets, with regard to rising energy costs.
The good news is that becoming energy-conscious doesn’t mean that you'll lose your ability to enjoy all of the things you love or that there aren’t options you can afford. Even for more expensive options, there are financing options, including PACE (property assessed clean energy). PACE makes it easier for “property owners to invest in their future, increase comfort and security, reduce energy usage, and ultimately, help you save money over the long-term.” Understanding how PACE works is simple, and the beauty is that no matter what you pay in the short-term, your costs will be offset or completely recouped in the long-term through the reduction of your monthly energy bill.
Below are some ideas for the energy-conscious home and business owner. These range from simple, easy solutions that require little time, effort and money to more substantial changes that will mean a greater initial investment.
Energy-saving power switches. From energy-saving power switches that draw zero energy to wi-fi-enabled power outlets that allow you to turn on devices with voice activation and program rules, schedules and customized notifications, several energy-efficient smart outlets are easily affordable. Another perk? These switches can seriously declutter the kitchen.
Energy-efficient, bright-light bulbs. Energy-saving light bulbs include both light-emitting diodes (LED) and compact fluorescent lights (CFLs). These bright, energy-saving alternatives to traditional 100-watt incandescent bulbs use less energy. The electricity used over the life of an incandescent light bulb costs five to 10 times the original purchase price of the bulb itself, while using energy-efficient bulbs may help you save hundreds of dollars in energy costs with an energy-efficient alternative.
Smart thermostats. If you’re looking to replace your standard thermostat, you may want to replace it with a smart thermostat. These thermostats can save you up to $150 a year when used effectively, and many have interesting features like Alexa voice control and apps that allow you to view how much energy you use and why.
Solar path lights. Solar garden or path lights come in a wide range of shapes, sizes, cost levels and aesthetics, but they have a couple of things in common. Solar lights allow you to have flexibility in light placement, are generally easy to use and mount and require far less energy to operate. Because most feature LED bulbs, they now put out more light and less heat.
Low-flow shower heads. Low-flow shower heads can maintain that unique balance you want by having a low flow that promises usage reduction while you can still enjoy a satisfying shower experience. Pressure-compensation technology used by some brands allows for a consistent flow rate, regardless of available water pressure. According to government data, putting in low-flow fixtures can reduce your water consumption by at least 50 percent and save you almost $150 per year.
Solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. The goal of a solar power system is to efficiently convert energy from the sun into electric power you can use in your home or office. Environmentally speaking, power generated by a solar power system isn't generated by a coal-fired utility plant that pollutes and can help you save money by lowering your electric bill or eliminating it completely. The system involves using panels that convert solar energy into electric energy and involves an energy storage battery.
What are some other ideas for an energy-conscious homeowner? Are there systems you’ve tried and like? Feel free to share here.
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