Plan ahead and use your slow cooker to make dinner tonight. Slow cookers can be as much at 75% more efficient than using the stove and oven.
Keep your car's tires properly inflated and aligned to improve your gasoline mileage by around 3%. (Your car will also handle better!)
Following my own advice, I decided that we needed to install some exhaust fans in our attic because we are spending an absolute fortune cooling this place. Imagine my surprise when I discovered we already had four attic fans! I feel pretty silly admitting this, but it looks like the fans were installed by the previous owners — and I never noticed, not even after eight years.
Unfortunately, the fan motors had burned out.
So I went to Lowe's and spent $500 on four new attic fans. Then I hired a guy to climb up on the roof, remove the old fans, and install the new fans for $300. I'm sure his day was moderately exciting, thrilling even, but the important thing is that I wasn't there so I really don't know.
But then I took a 10' ladder up into the attic, through the attic hatch, and started hooking up the new fans to the pre-existing wiring.
It was hot, at least 120°F. I know this because once I got the first fan working, I adjusted the thermostat until it turned on, at 120°F.
And it was scary. I had the feet of the ladder set up on 2"x10" joists but since the joists weren't quite the right distance apart, I couldn't open the ladder properly. The fans in the picture above are about 15 feet up. Have you ever stood at the top of a wobbly 10' ladder, on the step below the very top, the one that says "Don't Stand Here", with your pockets full of tools, soaked in sweat, stripping wires and hammering in wire staples?
(Actually, it was kind of fun, in a masochistic way.)
Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it. - Russel Baker
If you go on vacation this summer, set your thermostat to 85° or even 90°F. This will save you lots on your cooling bill but will also keep your home from over-heating.
Adjust your thermostat! For each one degree change, you can save up to 5% of your cooling costs.
When possible, locate floor, table, and hanging lamps in the corner of a room rather than against a flat wall. Lamps in corners reflect light from two wall surfaces instead of one and, therefore, give more usable light.
Somehow we used three megawatt-hours of electricity last month. Wow! It was hot, summer-in-Georgia-hot, but that is just amazing! Our utility bill actually tripled, from $110 to $340! Part of it is the usual summer increase in prices; electricity is up one penny per kWh, gas jumped 47 cents, and water is up 14 cents. That's not the real problem, however.
CoolingIn addition to the usual jump in electricity use when the A/C kicks on, we also installed a portable air conditioner in my wife's bedroom to help her with her hot flashes. This 10,000-BTU unit provides almost one ton of air conditioning at a cost of nearly one megawatt-hour per month, or $75. (I tell you, it's worth it!)
Heating & Hot WaterOur gas usage fell slightly from May, in that May actually had 9 HDD and I don't think we turned the furnace off until mid-May.
WaterOur water usage down slightly last month but only just a little bit. We are under drought restrictions here in Atlanta, so we are not watering the lawn or, in fact, anything else. (I am a little worried about some of the more delicate plants in the garden.) We must take more showers in the summer-time — we certainly wear fewer clothes and we aren't watering anything, but our water usage is up 50% over six months ago.
June 2008 Data
|Electricity, in kWh||Cost / Unit||Gas, in Therms||Cost / Unit||Water, in CCF||Cost / Unit|
If you have torchiere fixtures with halogen lamps, throw them out! Halogen lamps get hot, which makes your air conditioner work harder. If you can, replace them with compact fluorescent torchieres, which use 60% to 80% less energy, produce more light, and do not pose a fire risk.
As a matter of national security, we need to do something about our dependence on imported fossil fuels. We import about 4.35 billion barrels of crude oil per year. With crude oil at $140 per barrel, we are exporting dollars at the rate of $600 billion per year. That's $600,000,000,000. Per year. - George Bernard Shaw
This is not a new trend — we have been doing this for years.
Food prices are soaring and the economy and the environment both seem poised on the brink of disaster. Why? There are lots of complex reasons we can talk about, but they mostly boil down to energy. We all want it — lots of it — and there isn't enough to go around.
What can ordinary people do about this? Frankly, not much, individually — but if a lot of us make small changes, we can see enormous changes.
We have difficulty, as humans, imagining big numbers. I once tried to explain to my kids just how far away Alpha Centauri is — first I had to explain that Alpha Centauri is our nearest neighboring solar system — and 25,600,000,000,000 miles is a long way away. They simply couldn't comprehend a number that big.
Another big number — Americans travel about 2,000,000,000,000 — two trillion — miles a year by car. American cars get an average of 25 MPG. That works out to about 80,000,000,000 — 80 billion — gallons of gasoline a year.
What if we improved our national average MPG by 20% — to 30 MPG — or possibly reduced our driving by that same 20%?
Then we would save 14 billion gallons of gasoline a year. We get about 20 gallons of gasoline from each barrel of crude oil produces about 20 gallons of gasoline, which means that by reducing our gasoline usage we could reduce our imports of crude oil by about three billion barrels of oil per year, or 2/3 of the total, or $400,000,000,000.
What could we as a nation do with an extra $400 billion?
Check your history books — no nation that has consistently exported its wealth has ever survived for long. We must embrace energy independence, and we must do it soon.
Independence? That's middle-class blasphemy. We are all dependent on one another, every soul of us on earth.
- George Bernard Shaw
Once a year, everyone should drain a bucket of water from the hot water heater tank to remove sediment that lowers the efficiency of your heater. Of course, always follow the manufacturer's instructions, or you can try the instructions found here. One detail that needs to be stressed: never drain more than 1/4 of your hot water tank unless you have turned off the hot water heater.
Why, you ask, is there sediment in the bottom of my hot water heater?
Sediment is solid material that doesn't dissolve in water. There might be sand, grit, or other stuff that has gotten into your hot water heater. If this happens, this material will tend to settle out in your hot water heater tank, right down near the bottom by the heating element. If the heating element gets covered up, then the sediment is getting most of the heat, rather than your hot water, which is definitely not energy-efficient.
On the other hand, if you do this one year and no sediment comes out, then you can skip this the next year.
We never know the worth of water till the well is dry.- Thomas Fuller