Save Energy by Slaying Vampire Power

You’ve heard of vampire power, right? The term is not as scary as it sounds, but it will make your energy bill creep up on you. You won’t need a cross or garlic to avoid being a victim, and you can take simple steps to rid the “phantom load” of its power.

 

Vampire power is termed when plugged-in electronics and appliances continue to draw energy even when they are turned off or in standby mode. According to the Department of Energy, these silent energy loads can cost U.S. households an average of $100-200 per year.

 

 

Hunt the Vampires in Your Home

 

Hunt the Vampires in Your HomeTrack down these power sucks by looking around your home for devices that have power adaptors or black power-supply cubes. Look around for electronics that use a remote control or have a built-in chargeable battery. Do a survey of equipment with a digital display such as a clock or LED status light. You may spot obvious vampires such as your coffee maker, DVR or computer speakers, but beware that others are lurking about.

 

Electric shavers and toothbrushes, digital picture frames, and cordless vacuums pull energy when not in use. Another sneaky vampire is your cell phone charger, which continues to draw energy after the phone is charged and even after you take your phone with you. The biggest phantoms are game consoles and plasma televisions. The Department of Energy notes that a plasma television’s standby power can cost up to $165 a year alone!

 

 

Remove the Energy Drain

 

Remove the Energy Drain In TextThe simplest method to kill vampire energy is to unplug electronics when they’re not in use, but that can be a time-consuming daily task. Cluster electronics into a power strip, especially ENERGY STAR qualified strips that are registered to have lower standby, and flip one switch to turn off all plugs. Or, take it up a notch and invest in smart power strips, which can be set to turn off idle devices for you. You can find them online and at electronics retailers.

 

A basic smart power strip is controlled by programmable timers, which allow you to schedule turning on and off plugged-in devices automatically. Some strips allow you to control an entire room from your smart device. Advanced strips include outlets controlled by a motion detector to turn on when you come into the room and powers off when you leave or after a set time of vacancy. The smartest vampire killers are able to detect when a primary device such as a TV or computer enters sleep-mode or is turned off, then shuts down any connected outlets like printers or external hard drives. Turn the main device back on, and the accessory outlets come to life.

 

The vampire load of one device may not attack your utility budget, but a household of phantoms will frighten you! Battle them all with smart power strips, and watch this unnecessary energy drain disappear.

   

Here are our Top Five Energy-Saving Products for Renters

Not everyone has the ability to make the kind of substantial energy-saving upgrades that a homeowner can make. For example, it makes sense for someone who plans to live in a home indefinitely to invest in the home’s long-term energy cost. A $5000 investment that cuts an energy bill by $100 dollars per month for the next 10 years will result in a savings of more than double the initial investment.

 

But there are products tailored less for homeowners and more for people who simply want to update their living area. Here are five of our favorite energy-saving products for renters.

 

5. Belkin Wemo® Insight Smart Plug

 

Belkin-Wemo-Insight-Smart-PlugWe’ll do these in reverse order. This story should sound familiar to renters everywhere. You’re out of the house and you suddenly feel a sense of dread. You’ve left the hot plate on. Or, so you think. But there’s nothing you can do about it except leave wherever you are, go home, and check.

 

Not if you have an insight smart plugYou can turn off the outlet using your smartphone with nothing more than a flick of your thumb, save energy, and rest easier.

 

 

4. Florida Eco Products Waterpebble

 

Florida-Eco-Products-WaterpebbleEver get in the shower determined to duck in and out, using as little water as possible—only to hang around for minutes longer than necessary just because the gentle caress of the water is so lovely? I think all of us have probably had this experience.

 

The waterpebble helps us fight this impulse by tracking our water usage and actually telling us that it is time to save energy by leaving the shower, using a red-yellow-green light system. Once you see that red light, it’s time to leave.

 

 

3. SimpliSafe

 

This is another great idea for renters especially. You don’t want to invest in a full-out home security service, but you still want peace of mind. Get Simplisafe, an app that tracks movements outside of your home and alerts you to possible danger. You don’t need a system that makes you commit or buy tons of bulky merchandise. Just get a couple of tiny Simplicams, track on the app, and sleep better at night.

 

 

2. simplehuman® Sensor Mirror

 

simplehuman-Sensor-Mirror2This one is for the makeup lovers. You don’t need a makeup mirror that uses tons of incandescent light. The simplehuman sensor mirroruses a combination of natural light and LED to help you save energy and look your best. And it only lights up when you get near it—how cool is that?

 

 

1. Delta Breez Integrity Fan with Bluetooth Speaker

 

Delta-Breez-Integrity-Fan-with-Bluetooth-SpeakerThis one happens to be our favorite because it even entertains us while saving us energy. The fan gets your house bumpin’ with tunes you love while ventilating a room, leaving your energy bill in the basement. Give one a try today!

   

Window Film in Your Community

Every single day you could—and quite possibly do—benefit from window film. If you haven’t yet noticed, that’s likely because window film is an undetected superhero, saving you from the sun’s harsh UV rays and offering a layer of defense against intruders trying to get a peek inside your home, school, or business.

 

 

 

Even though you can’t see window film, you can trust that it’s working around the clock to block up to 99% of UV rays, and up to 86% of the sun’s heat. And window film installation costs only a fraction of what window replacement can cost. Not only will you save yourself the hassle and out-of-pocket expense, you’ll save on long-term energy bills. From keeping you cool and comfortable to providing much-needed privacy, window film helps you—and your entire community—live better.

 

Click here to download an infographic that shows how window film works throughout your community.

   

Window Films Save Energy and Money for Small Businesses

When you own a small business, you look for ways to improve your bottom line. One way to do this is by installing commercial window film, which reflects and absorbs incoming light and heat to cut down on energy expenses and protect your investment.

 

 

Cooling Cost Reduction

 

Cooling Cost ReductionMany electric companies charge higher rates during peak periods, which typically coincide with daytime business hours. Because window film blocks the sun’s heat, it allows offices and showrooms to remain cooler longer and decreases the need for air conditioning to kick on during peak rate times. This means you save money on your electric bill and extend the life of your HVAC system. Reduced heat from windows also helps keep building temperatures consistent during work hours, which can increase employee productivity and customer comfort.

 

 

Eyestrain Reduction

 

Eyestrain ReductionIn addition to blocking outdoor heat, window film helps eliminate bright, direct sunlight that can create excessive glare on computer screens or displays, and cause eyestrain and fatigue. Since window film minimizes glare, you will will not have to resort to purchasing window coverings that close off free natural light, and that increase the need for electric lighting.

 

 

Safety and Security

 

Safety and SecurityAs a small business owner, it’s important to protect your property from burglary and vandalism, and installing professional window tinting can help. Safety and security films will hold shards of broken glass together so thieves cannot easily penetrate the glass in a smash-and-grab scenario. In the case of natural disasters that may break windows, window film keeps glass in place to protect people from injury and your structure from further damage. Check if your window film installer carries anti-graffiti window film, too, which can protect windows against acid etching and spray paints.

 

 

UV Ray Protection

 

UV Ray ProtectionDirect ultraviolet exposure from sunlight can damage your furnishings and incite replacement costs. Installing window film slows the fading of furniture, fabric and carpeting, and reduces cracking and drying on leather and vinyl. Window film can protect your skin as well because it blocks 99% of UV rays that can cause dry skin, premature aging, and skin cancer.

 

Installing professional window film at your business can be money well spent when looking to cut back on electric costs and to add an extra layer of protection to your furnishings and property.

   

How to Select the Best Programmable Thermostat

Smart spending often comes from smart technology. With heating and cooling racking up your bills each month, there’s no better reason to use today’s cutting-edge thermostats to cut down on costs. Energystar.gov points out that, when properly used, programmable thermostats can save you approximately $180 each year in energy expenditures. The key is knowing how to choose the right thermostat for your needs, and then learning how to set it properly.

 

To make the most informed decision – and save you the most money – when shopping for thermostats, start with consulting your calendar. Consider how often you’re away from home for long periods of time, and then choose from the three programmable thermostat models: 7-day, 5+2 and 5-1-1.

 

 

Find Your Match

 

Find Your Match 1

Is your schedule unpredictable from one day to the next?

 

Your thermostat: 7-day model

 

The 7-day model offers the most flexibility, because you can set a different schedule each day of the week.

 

 

Do you follow the same schedule during the work week and then have a regular weekend routine?

 

Your thermostat: 5+2 model

 

With the 5+2, you can pre-set temperatures and time periods a particular way during your 5-day work week, while setting a separate program for your days off.

 

 

Do you keep one schedule Monday through Friday, but frequently change it on Saturday and Sunday?

 

Your thermostat: 5-1-1 model

 

As its name indicates, you’ll set the thermostat to certain times and temperatures five days of the week. When the weekend rolls around, you can set each day (1 and 1) to something different to accommodate your (or your kids’) busy social life.

 

 

Set It for Savings

 

Set It for Savings

During the colder months, Energy.gov recommends setting your thermostat at 68°F while you’re home and then turning it back 10 degrees for the time you’ll be at work, on vacation, or even sleeping (if you can tolerate the chill). This can amount to a 1% savings per degree. In addition to the temperature, follow these dos and don’ts to capitalize on your smart thermostat:

 

Do:

  • Set your time periods in increments of 8 hours or more. This is why you’ll notice every programmable thermostat allows at least four temperature periods each day.
  • Install separate units in areas of your home that aren’t occupied very often, such as a guest room.
  • Use the “hold” setting while on vacation. Just be sure to keep it at that energy-efficient temperature mentioned above.

Don’t:

  • Do not install your thermostat near heating or cooling vents, your oven or microwave, electronics, open doors or in direct sunlight.
  • Do not override the pre-set programming, even if you unexpectedly came home an hour earlier. This will use up more energy than just leaving it alone until the next period begins.
  • Do not try to heat or cool your house faster by cranking the thermostat to an extreme temperature. When you pre-set your thermostat, it’s smart enough to know when to start heating up or cooling down to reach the desired temperature before you walk in the door.

Once you’ve found the right model for your household’s energy needs, sit back and let the thermostat take care of the savings.

   

Energy Saving Tips For Your Bathroom

Large amounts of heat, water and lighting are used daily in the bathroom by every member of the household. Consider these tips to make your bathroom most efficient, use the least amount of energy, and save the most money.

 

 

Shower

 

Shower Energy Saving Tips For Your BathroomNearly half of water consumed in a home comes from the bathroom. Conserve water simply by switching from baths to showers. The average bath uses 35-50 gallons of water, whereas a 10-minute shower uses 25 gallons. Change your showerhead to a low-flow fixture of -2.5 gallons per minute, and you’ll save up to $145 per year on electricity, too.

 

 

Sink

 

Sink Energy Saving Tips For Your BathroomAt the sink, it pays to turn off the faucet when brushing teeth, shaving, or washing your face. Take a Saturday to fix a leaky faucet. A hot water leak can add $40 to yearly costs. One of the most cost-effective conservation measures is to install a faucet aerator. Aerators lower flow by adding air to the spray and for a few dollars, you can save 4-7% of total water consumption.

 

 

Lighting

 

Light Energy Saving Tips For Your BathroomBathroom lights are one of the most used light sources in the home, so turn them off when leaving the room! Vanity lighting is pretty but requires a lot of energy. Make the switch to ENERGY STAR qualified compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs). They provide quality bright lighting, use 10-50% less energy, and last 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs.

 

 

Toilets

 

Toilet Energy Saving Tips For Your BathroomMore than 25 percent of water used in the home is for the toilet. Older models use up to five gallons of water per flush, but high-efficiency toilets cut usage to 1.6 gallons. Dual-flush toilets have two flush buttons: a 1.6 gallon flush for solids and 0.9 for liquids, saving 50% of water used per flush. Water displacement devices like a brick or water bottle can work in the short-term, but be aware they may cause damage to the flushing mechanism. To test if you have a leaky toilet add a few drops of food coloring to the tank, and wait 15 minutes. If the dye appears inside the bowl, you have a leak to fix.

 

 

Air Flow

 

Fan Energy Saving Tips For Your BathroomMoisture causes more than mold. It can shorten the lifespan of lightbulbs and produce larger problems in attics and your overall structure. Make sure your bathroom fan is vented to go outside and not into upper home areas.

 

For maximum energy efficiency, clean your bathroom fan regularly, and install a timer to shut off the fan 15 minutes after showers. In the winter, set up a fan in the doorway to bring in warm, dry air and to force moisture back into other rooms. Older fans often bring in cold outside air, especially if they are left on, but you can retrofit a butterfly value to stop intake. Ultimately, it’s best to replace your old fan with a new high-quality one that sucks moisture out quickly and has a built-in timer and butterfly valve.

 

By implementing even a few of these ideas, your energy efficiency efforts in the bathroom will save you money down the road.

   

Smart Buildings Save Energy

What if the buildings we live and work in could understand our habits and use this information to conserve energy? That’s the idea behind Human-Building Interaction (HBI), according to a recent Center for Energy and Environment (CEE) report.

 

 

What is HBI?

 

What is HBIHBI is a way of thinking about the design of a building based on its use. The process studies the way occupants interact with the building to determine ways to encourage energy savings. By understanding the motivations that drive the occupants’ actions, the building’s designers can respond with innovative solutions to promote more efficient energy use within the building.

 

 

The HBI Process

 

The HBI ProcessSpecifically, HBI involves a five-step process of empathizing with users, defining problems, coming up with possible solutions and then prototyping and testing the results. The process requires an understanding of factors like user motivation, ability and triggers, so that these can be incorporated into effective, energy-saving product design.

 

 

How HBI Developed

 

How HBI DevelopedThe concept behind HBI is similar to one created by Tony Fadell, a former Senior Vice President at Apple. Fadell became frustrated by ugly, complicated-to-use thermostats while building a “super-energy efficient” house. Working together with former Apple colleague, Matt Rogers, Fadell developed a new way for occupants to interact with a building’s thermostats. The result was the Nest Learning Thermostat, which created a whole new market for smart thermostats. The company was later purchased by Google for $3.2 billion.

 

 

The Future of HBI

 

The Future of HBIThanks to tech-savvy consumers accustomed to smart technologies, advanced automation and social media, the CEE report predicts that the Human-Building Interaction movement will continue to grow. It’s entirely possible that, in the future, HBI will delve even deeper into our use of buildings to develop even smarter, more effective ways to conserve energy.

 

“Understanding these trends and anticipating the changing landscape of how we interact with buildings,” the report explains, “is crucial to creating innovative energy efficient products and facilitating and maintaining energy saving practices and services.”

 

 

Here’s where to learn more about the Nest thermostat and Human-Building Interaction.

   

Solar Lights Hit the Streets

From California to Cairo, LED (Light-Emitting Diode) street lights are becoming the norm and resulting in money and energy savings. Here’s a look at a few cities that are going solar.

 

 

Ann Arbor, Michigan

 

Ann Arbor launched a successful pilot project by replacing their downtown globe street lights with LED lights. Reduced maintenance and energy costs are saving the city $100,000 each year. Greenhouse gas emissions will also be reduced each year by 267 tons of CO2. According to the city, “Each LED replacement bulb saves $962 in energy and maintenance costs over its 10-year lifetime. At this savings rate, the new bulb pays for itself in 4.4 years.” Learn more about how Ann Arbor is lighting the way to energy savings.

 

 

Cairo, Egypt (and Beyond)

 

Egypt’s adoption of solar street lights began in 2013 throughout Cairo’s major districts, then expanded to Suez, Sharm el Sheikh, Alexandria, and many others. The country is now investing $157 million in LED street lights across the country. The significant energy savings is expected to pay for the project in 17 months, lighten the load on the electricity network, and prevent blackouts. Learn more about Egypt’s widespread adoption.

 

 

Raleigh, North Carolina

 

Raleigh residents can expect to save an estimated $215,000 annually in maintenance and energy because of their city’s LED lighting initiatives over the last 10 years. More than 40 projects include solar lighting on the streets, parks, parking decks, and more. Learn more about Raleigh’s LEDs.

 

 

San Diego, California

 

San Diego saves about $250,000 each year in energy costs with its 3,000 street lights using GE’s LightGrid technology. It was the first city in the U.S. to use this intelligent lighting system, which not only provides more efficient lighting, but also “provides accurate energy metering per light pole, allowing municipalities to pay only for the energy they actually use,” according to Cleantech San Diego. While super high-tech, the lights still have downtown San Diego’s historically charming look. Learn more about these intelligent wireless street lights.

   

Energy-Efficient Clothes Dryers Make a Big Impact

​According to the EPA, dryers use more energy than any other appliance in a household. This coupled with the fact that dryers are in 80 percent of American homes means more efficient dryers could make a huge impact on saving energy. While advancements in washers have resulted in dramatic drops in energy use over the years, more energy-efficient dryer options have only recently become available. Early in 2015 the EPA announced that new Energy Star-certified dryers were available across the U.S. from major brands like Kenmore and Maytag. These dryers are at least 20 percent more efficient than conventional dryers but most are comparable in price.

The EPA provides a pretty compelling snapshot of the energy-saving possibilities:

 

“If all residential clothes dryers sold in the U.S. were Energy Star-certified, Americans could save $1.5 billion each year in utility costs and prevent greenhouse gas emissions equal to the electricity use from more than 1.3 million homes.”

 

The specifications for Energy Star-certified dryers are set by collecting information from a number of different groups, from manufacturers to the U.S. Department of Energy. Most of the dryers meet the requirements by shutting off when clothes are dry, which is detectable through advanced sensors. Some of the Energy Star-certified dryers boast energy efficiency that surpasses conventional models by up to 60 percent. These dryers’ advanced technology use heat pumps to recycle the hot air.

 

 

Find An Energy Star-Certified Dryer

 

Find An Energy Star-Certified DryerThe Energy Star website has a page where you can learn about all of the certified dryers. The page makes it easy to shop, from the ability to filter your search and compare models and their features side by side. The site also has a number of other helpful tools in your search for an Energy Star-certified dryer:

 

Store Locators – where you can find Energy Star-certified dryers in your area
Special offers – find rebates and other special offers in your area
Video – watch the “Ask the Expert” video about Energy Star-certified dryers

 

If you’re not in the market for a dryer at this point, you can still take the Energy Star pledge and learn about other ways to save energy in your home.

   

10 Ways to Save Energy in Five Minutes or Less

Now that it’s getting colder and the holiday madness is approaching, here are some super simple ways to save energy that you can fit into your busy schedule. They’re quick, painless, and require no knowledge of anything remotely mechanical. If you’re handy with a caulk gun, go ahead and seal up those nooks and crannies around the windows. If you know your way around air filters and heating units, knock yourself out. But for the rest of us clueless souls, read on…

 

 

#1- Turn down your heat thermostat

#1: Turn down your heat thermostat before you leave for work.

 

Then, turn it back up when you return home. If you have a programmable thermostat, it does this for you, requiring even less effort! You should lower it by 10 to 15 degrees.

 

 

#2- Turn down your hot water thermostat

#2: Turn down your hot water thermostat.

 

The optimal temperature here is in the range of 110 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

 

#3- Shut doors and close vents in unused rooms

#3: Shut doors and close vents in unused rooms.

 

 

 

#4- Use your curtains on windows facing south and west

#4: Use your curtains on windows facing south and west.

 

Open them up on sunny days and close at night for extra insulation.

 

 

#5- Wash your clothes in cold water

#5: Wash your clothes in cold water.

 

The bulk of the energy used by a washing machine is to heat the water. Clothes don’t require warm or hot water to be cleaned – in fact, cold water actually preserves color. To learn more, read this article by Real Simple: Does Washing Clothes in Cold Water Really Get Them Clean?

 

 

#6- Decorate your Christmas tree with LED lights

#6: Decorate your Christmas tree with LED lights.

 

(This technically still takes only five minutes if you order them online and have them shipped to your door.)

 

 

#7- Increase your inside temperature with your ceiling fan

#7: Increase your inside temperature with your ceiling fan.

 

Reverse the motor on your ceiling fan so it turns clockwise. (This is as simple as flipping a switch or it may even be a button on a remote control). Keep the fan on a low setting and it will push down the warmer air near the ceiling.

 

 

#8- Check your TV’s brightness setting

#8: Check your TV’s brightness setting.

 

Try a lower setting and use less energy. Considering the average American watches five hours of TV per day, this could actually add up to quite a bit of energy savings.

 

 

#9- Unplug electronics you don’t use on a daily basis

#9: Unplug electronics you don’t use on a daily basis.

 

Learn more about slaying vampire power here.

 

 

#10- Make an appointment to get an energy audit

#10: Make an appointment to get an energy audit.

 

Most local power companies offer these for free and you’ll have completed the very first step to bigger and better energy savings.

 

So there you have it. Even taking just five minutes out of your day can make a difference. If you need more encouragement, here’s some of the latest news on global warming and climate change.