Getting More For Less: Efficiency At Home And Work

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The current economic downturn has us all looking for ways to cut back. In most cases, this means giving things up – that morning latte, the season’s hot new boots, a much-needed vacation.

There is a way to get more for less, though: by being more energy efficient. A few simple changes to your home and your car can make them safer, greener and, perhaps most importantly, less expensive to operate.

Winter demands more light and heat.
Winter is one of the most trying times on people’s budgets, and not just because of all the holiday expenses hitting credit card statements this month. The harsh weather conditions and short daylight hours make winter particularly energy-intensive. The average family spends $1,400 a year on energy costs, half of which is on heating and cooling. But a few simple changes can help you stretch your energy dollar – saving you hundreds every year.

Take advantage of all the post-holiday sales to get a great deal on new appliances, such as refrigerators, microwaves and dryers. But don’t buy just any new appliances; choose only those certified by the ENERGY STAR program, a joint effort of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy. One of the best investments you can make is on an ENERGY STAR-qualified programmable thermostat. By helping you set temperatures low while you’re away from home and comfortable when you return, this nifty little device can save you money and reduce your home’s energy waste.

Beyond rating appliances, the ENERGY STAR program also provides tips to help stamp out unnecessary heating costs and fulfill some of those sustainable New Year’s resolutions in the process.

One the most effective ways to lower costs is to install more efficient heating and cooling equipment. This alone has the potential to slash a typical family’s energy bill by as much as 20 percent. Don’t forget to clean or change the air filter in your heating and cooling system – monthly, if possible. That is the surest way to keep the unit running safely and efficiently.

Have a heat pump or forced air furnace? Seal up leaky air ducts and increase your home’s energy efficiency by as much as 20 percent. In fact, home sealing – closing up cracks, gaps and air leaks around the house and adding insulation – can help you save as much as 10 percent on home heating.

Efficiency starts at home, but it also works on the road – in your car, that is. If you haven’t already, now is the time to make sure your car has been properly winterized. Check windshield wipers, tire treads and inflation, the air filter and fluid levels to stay safe and avoid winter-related damage to your vehicle.

We all know winter weather can make commutes tough, especially when it means having to clear our driveways of snow and ice in the morning. But be careful to take the environment into consideration when preparing for your daily trek. Consider using snow shovels instead of gas-powered snowblowers to clean the walk. If you must use a snowblower, an electric model will have a reduced effect on air pollution.

At Business Roundtable, we know energy efficiency is a critical component in the quest for a cleaner, more cost effective future. The economical principles that work in our homes are the same ones that drive America’s leading businesses. In fact, efficiency is a core tenet of our More Diverse, More Domestic, More Efficient energy blueprint. Energy expenses have, in recent years, been among the top cost pressures facing our CEOs.

Roundtable members are committed to sustainable growth.
Increasing efficiency is a core strategy for combating rising energy costs, but it also lays the foundation for a more vibrant, environmentally sustainable economy. It’s what we call sustainable growth, and it’s something our members take very seriously. Through both the S.E.E. Change and Climate RESOLVE initiatives, our members have repeatedly demonstrated business’ commitment to a cleaner, healthier future for the generations that follow. For example,

  • Business Roundtable member Xerox is a charter partner of the international ENERGY STAR program. Under this initiative, it has invested in product designs and technologies that have saved enough energy annually to light nearly 1 million U.S. homes for a year.

  • GE has developed compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) that offer energy savings of 70 percent to 75 percent and last up to 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs. Switching four 60 watt incandescent bulbs to equivalent GE CFL bulbs will save a household more than $100 over the life of the bulbs, including the higher initial cost of buying CFLs.

  • Office Depot has embraced both high-efficiency heating/cooling systems and T5 lighting – 35 percent more efficient than traditional, incandescent lighting – in its innovative green building techniques.

Whether it’s sealing up an air duct in an attic or undertaking a multimillion dollar efficiency initiative, we all –businesses and individuals – have a role to play in increasing our nation’s environmental consciousness and fiscal responsibility, while ensuring a sustainable energy future.

In the end, it’s all about being green. Why not save some green in the process?

More energy saving tips from TreeHugger archives.
Energy Saving Tip: Shade Your Air Conditioner For Up To A 10 ...
Cheap, Practical Energy Saving Tips to Use at Home
Martha Stewart on Powering Down the House
Electricity Saving Tips From Georgia Power
10 Cost-Saving Green Tips for the Home

Getting More For Less: Efficiency At Home And Work
The current economic downturn has us all looking for ways to cut back. In most cases, this means giving things up – that morning latte, the season’s hot new boots, a much-needed vacation. There is a way to get more for less, though: by being more energy