Throughout the United States, different programs are underway to promote energy awareness. The US Department of Energy’s Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) promotes energy and water conservation practices throughout the Federal government. State governments and organizations such as TeamPA in Pennsylvania, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, and Texas is Hot are also doing their part to educate consumers about the importance of energy in everyday life.
Should we be worrying about our energy supplies?
Not at the moment. Domestic oil production is rising – September 2014 was the highest crude oil production since 1986. Oil prices have fallen below $97/barrel, which means gas prices have dipped below $3.00/gallon in some places (I paid $3.05/gallon the other day to fill up in Iowa). And the Energy Information Administration recently reported, “Despite higher gas prices, winter heating bills are expected to fall.”
So what’s up with this Energy Awareness Month thing?
Plenty. As it turns out, one of the chief reasons energy prices are lower comes from heightened awareness about energy use in this country (and abroad) such that conservation and energy efficiency are starting to effect energy prices. Even though prices for oil, gasoline, natural gas, and electricity have lowered, there’s still quite a lot people can do to reduce their energy usage, improve their energy efficiency, and lower their energy bills.
Consider these five simple ways you can reduce your energy usage.
- Swap out the old incandescent bulbs for CFL’s or (even better) LED bulbs. At roughly 13 watts, CFLs and LED bulbs use about 1/4 the electricity of a 60 watt bulb and have a longer lifespan. CFLs and LED bulb brightness is rated in lumens – the higher the lumens, the brighter the bulb. Also look for color temperature which is rated in °K (for Kelvin). The warm yellowish-white light of an incandescent is 2700°k.
- Install a programmable thermostat that can be adjusted according to your schedule. Reducing your thermostat settings by 10° to 15° for 8 hours while you are at work or asleep can save 5% to 15% a year on your heating bill. Smart thermostats offer even more flexibility and savings.
- Save water at home. Put an insulation jacket on your water heater and add faucet aerators, low flow shower heads, and fix all those leaks —like that leaky flapper valve in the toilet tank. You can save on your water bill, save on your water heating, and save water. About 1% of all water on earth is fresh water that we can actually use.
- Take one weekend to find and seal the drafts in your home. You can reduce heating and cooling costs by 10%. You’ll notice the results right away because your home will feel more comfortable.
- Find out which are the biggest energy users in your home and figure out ways to reduce their use. For heating and cooling systems, install that new thermostat from #2 and change the air filter every three months (or more often). Avoid using ovens and clothes dryers on during the middle of the day on hot days, as this causes your AC to run longer. Don’t forget your refrigerator — keep the cooling coils and seals clean and avoid over-filling it to keep the cold air circulating.
By learning to use energy more efficiently, we’ll be able to rely on more sources of clean energy. Plus, by being more energy efficient as a nation, we can blunt the shocks of foreign wars on oil prices, reduce our dependence on foreign energy reserves, and have increased security over our nation’s energy and economic future.