Kitchen Energy Savers

Your kitchen contains the biggest energy and water hogs in your home. By changing a few cooking habits and using your appliances more efficiently, you can reduce your kitchen energy usage and save some cash.



Oven Stove Kitchen Energy Savers



When using the oven, preheat for 5-8 minutes only, and cut cooking time up to 20% by moving the rack closer to the heating unit. Every time you open the oven door, you lose 25-30 degrees, so check food with the oven light instead. Save energy and time by using the self-cleaning feature right after cooking to take advantage of residual heat.


For smaller meals, cut usage in half with an electric pan or toaster oven. Slow cookers are a great alternative and average a dime’s worth of electricity per meal. Cut out electricity altogether by grilling out, and you’ll avoid forcing the refrigerator to work harder in a hot kitchen.


If you have a gas range, confirm you are getting a blue flame. A yellow flame means the fuel is burning inefficiently, and your gas line should be checked by your gas company. When buying new, look for an oven with an automatic electric ignition system instead of having a continuously burning pilot light.


On top, purchase reflective (instead of dull) burner pans to direct more heat to cookware and save one-third of the energy usage. Blackened, dirty burner pans absorb heat and reduce efficiency, so clean them regularly. Reduce heat loss by using pots and pans with flat bottoms and matching them to the correct burner size.



Refrigerator Freezer Kitchen Energy Savers



Save energy by not setting your refrigerator and freezer colder than necessary. The Department of Energy recommends setting refrigerators between 36-38°F and freezers between 0-5°F.


You can do simple things to prevent your refrigerator from working overtime. Maintain circulation by not overcrowding the shelves. Make the condenser work more efficiently by waiting for food to cool before storing and covering containers to prevent moisture. Every three months, vacuum the condenser coils underneath and behind the unit. Test for air leakage by closing the door over a piece of paper. If it pulls out easily, look into getting a new latch or seal.



Dishwasher Sink Kitchen Energy Savers



Conventional faucets flow up to five gallons per minute, but you can reduce this to 1.5 gallons simply by installing a low-flow faucet. Remember to choose cold water for rinsing, filling pots or running the garbage disposal. In fact, skip the garbage disposal and create a compost heap instead.


Dishwashers save time, but they raise utility bills, too. Wait until you have a full load and let dishes air dry after cleaning. The “rinse hold” setting uses 3-7 gallons of hot water per use, so ignore this setting when you have few soiled dishes. When purchasing a dishwasher, look for ones with internal booster heaters, so that you can set your water heater thermostat at 120°F (rather than 140°F for dishwashing purposes).


Without making major changes, you can make your kitchen more energy efficient and save considerably on your monthly costs.


Have It Made in the Shade: Shopping Tips for Auto Tint

If you’re considering tinting your car windows, you probably know about some of the many benefits, such as reduction of heat and glare. But where do you begin when it comes to choosing the right auto window film and installer?

Choosing Window Film

Choosing Window FilmYou may want to start with the window film and then choose your installer, because different installers carry different types of window film. Window film that blocks damaging UV rays is a popular choice and it can actually help you lower your carbon footprint. Another thing to look for in window film is if it’s covered under a warranty. This speaks to the quality of the film and if something does go wrong, you won’t lose any money. All of Madico’s window films are covered by a warranty and many are covered by a lifetime warranty. You’ll also want to choose a shade. Today’s technology has delivered a range of shade choices from dark to extremely light, while still delivering all of the benefits. Take a look at this tint simulator to visualize how dark or light you can go. You’ll also want to know the window tinting laws in your state, but a good installer should also be familiar with these rules.

Choosing an Installer

Choosing an InstallerLike choosing any business, one of the best ways to make your decision is by asking others who they recommend. You can also view online referrals and rankings on various sites. Once you’ve identified some credible options, ask the installer how long he or she has been in business at their current location. The longer the better as longevity is a sign that they offer good quality and service at fair prices. You’ll also want to see samples of their work. This article has detailed illustrations that show you what to look for.

Don’t DIY

Don’t DIYYou may be tempted to save some money and try a do-it-yourself kit, but there are several reasons why it’s smart to go with a professional window tinting company. Check out this article on Angie’s List that explains why.

To find a Madico Window Films dealer in your area, call 888-887-2022 or email


A Bright Idea: Outdoor Solar Lights

Outdoor solar lights are an easy way to conserve energy and are available in all of the same options as electric outdoor lighting, from decorative string lights and lanterns to spotlights and path lights. Moreover, their benefits go beyond lowering your electric bill and helping to save the planet.


Solar lights are easy to maintain because they automatically turn on and off according to the sunlight level. They don’t have the insulation and corrosion issues that wires do. And speaking of wires, your yard is a safer place without them – no tripping or injuries from exposed wires and less threat of fires. Another safety perk is that solar lights keep working even when the power goes out.


Many people have the misconception that solar lights won’t last very long, and that may have been true in the past. But now, with improved solar technology, solar lights can last for up to 10 hours.



Enlightening Tips


If you aren’t already using outdoor solar lights, here are a few things to keep in mind:


  • A minimum of eight hours of sunshine per day is ideal to adequately charge solar lights.Enlightening Tips
  • If areas of your yard are shaded, a photovoltaic panel can be used to power the solar lights in those areas. The panel can be placed on your roof or in a sunny spot in your yard and then connected to the solar lights.
  • Solar lights aren’t as bright as regular lights, so you’ll need more to achieve the lighting you want. For example, you’ll probably want to use twice as many solar lights to adequately light a pathway.
  • Solar lights vary in brightness according to their size and the quality of their photovoltaic cells. So a general rule of thumb is that the more expensive the solar light, the brighter it will shine.
  • Solar lights emit a bright white light. If you prefer a warmer glow, purchase tinted solar lights categorized as “soft white” or “amber.”


3 Energy Saving Items to Buy at Your Hardware Store

Whether you head to big-box stores for your hardware needs or shop locally around the block, you can get sidetracked looking at all the handy products that can make your home projects simpler. Next time you’re wandering the aisles, ask a clerk to point you to these cool, inexpensive energy saving items that are made specifically to cut down air leaks in your home.



Thermal Leak Detector

Cost: $20-$100

Thermal Leak Detecter In TextIf a certain room in your home feels hotter or colder than other areas, you may have hidden air leaks. Find them with a thermal leak detector, which is a device that uses an infrared laser to measure surfaces for dips and peaks from a reference temperature. To locate where you are losing energy specifically, shine the device around doors, windows, and footings. Most devices alert you to differences in temperature by changing from neutral green to red (hot) or blue (cold) so that you can pinpoint outside air drafts, and determine where you need to seal air leaks.



Outlet Gaskets

Cost: $1-$5

Outlet GasketElectrical outlets and wall switches located on exterior walls can be responsible for up to 5% of energy loss in your home. Installing foam outlet gaskets are an easy and inexpensive way to reduce incoming drafts and outgoing temperature-controlled air. Your local hardware store will offer plates and switch covers with the foam attached or you can grab a box of gaskets and install them behind your current covers. Some plates are even spring-loaded to cover plug holes when not in use, which blocks even more air loss, and provides added protection for children.



Window A/C Covers

Cost: $15-$50

Window AC Cover In TextIf your air conditioner is mounted permanently in a window or built into the wall, then winter winds can sift through your unit into the home and cause drafts, heat loss, and a higher electric bill. A quilted or insulated air conditioner cover will shield your unit from taking in cold air and can protect it from leaves, dust, and snow, which helps it function better when it’s time to use it in summer. You can choose a cover to place over your conditioner from the inside or the outside. You’ll find cover options in different sizes and materials (indoor ones are typically machine-washable). Some covers attach with Velcro, while others use elastic to wrap the unit like a fitted sheet. Besides a cover, add some weatherstripping to seal between the unit and window frame, and you’ve taken a big step in keeping yourself warmer in winter.


On your next trip to the hardware store, take an extra moment to look around for these energy saving items that can help you save energy without breaking the bank.


The 411 on Zero Net Energy Homes

To save energy at home, you may start small by unplugging countertop appliances and turning off all the lights before you leave. Over time, you could seal any air leaks and install a programmable thermostat. Eventually, you might end up with solar panels on your roof. This natural progression toward a more cost-saving home is not as radical as you may think. In fact, you could reach a whole new level of energy efficiency known as a “zero net energy” home.

What does zero net energy mean?

What does zero net energy meanA zero net energy building must produce as much or more energy than it needs to maintain. This entails a renewable energy system and various energy efficiency measures that will offset the home’s annual energy consumption.

How do I achieve zero net energy?

How do I achieve zero net energyTaking small steps and implementing a few energy-saving tactics at a time is perhaps a smart way to go about it, especially if you’re working with an older home. Dan and Christine Fisher of Tampa, Florida did exactly that. Their 20-year-old home was built with some efficient characteristics, but this “green” couple took it all the way to the top.

If you, too, seek the ultimate in energy efficiency, the Department of Energy’s Zero Energy Ready Home program has guidelines. They include:

  • Having an Energy Star-approved HVAC system in place
  • Meeting the standards for proper water management (as established by Energy Star)
  • Featuring high-performance windows
  • Installing insulation that’s up to par with the International Energy Conservation Code
  • Following the best recommendations for an air duct system
  • Conserving water through an efficient hot water system, typically a tankless water heater
  • Offering indoor air quality that meets the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Indoor airPlus Program standards
  • Potentially using solar energy sources where they comply with the EPA’s solar electric guide

For more details on each of these efforts as they pertain to your home and your state’s policies, consult a Zero Energy Ready Home partner.

What are the gains from a zero net energy home?

What are the gains from a zero net energy homeThe Fishers started with insulating the attic and then quickly moved on to their windows. Living in a hurricane-risk state, these Floridians opted for Energy Star certified double-paned windows. Of course, they didn’t stop there. To make their windows more efficient, they covered them with Madico’s Exterior 20 window film. This simple change blocked heat without compromising the performance of the double-paned glass. It was estimated that the window film alone contributed to a 4% reduction in energy usage. Ultimately, this Tampa couple got their electric bill down to $17 per month from $500.

When working toward a zero net energy home, you’ll notice that small improvements, like adding window film, can make a large impact on your overall savings. analyzed various DOE Zero Energy Ready homes to find that they saved up to $101 per month on utility costs. On top of the monetary savings is the value in knowing that you’ve lowered your carbon footprint – and that’s priceless.


Benefits of Window Film in Hospitals

Aesthetics, energy efficiency, safety, and heat reduction are some of the many benefits that both homeowners and business owners receive from window film. But it is not just limited to houses and cars. Hospitals and health care facilities, like Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center in Houston, Texas, have installed window film as a means for both protection and energy efficiency.



Safety & Security Window Films


Safety & Security Window FilmsSafety, care, and protection are all major objectives that hospitals try to achieve with every patient. To further this commitment, Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center installed Madico’s safety & security window films earlier this year. With its location relative to the Gulf Coast, it was prone to harsh weather conditions resulting in severe damages. The 850-bed health and surgical facility, made up of an extensive number of windows, needed an additional layer of security to account for serious weather damages. Window film was the plausible solution for this issue, and now there is a sense of “greater safety and peace of mind” among the patients and the St. Luke’s team.



Protection from Natural Disasters and Crime


Protection from Natural Disasters and CrimeIn the case of a natural disaster, medical facilities need to have a plan for their patients’ safety. Specially designed window films reduce the risk of damages by helping shattered glass hold together, preventing flying shards of glass and protecting the patients and the valuable medical equipment. Glass windows and doors are highly susceptible to weather damages and burglary. Shattered glass can expose a hospital building or hospital rooms, along with expensive medical equipment to intruders and theft. While window film doesn’t prevent intrusions, it does make it much more difficult for thieves to get inside.



Sun Protection & Energy Efficiency


Sun Protection & Energy EfficiencyAdditionally, window film rejects 99% of harmful UV rays that cause skin cancer, providing another form of protection for hospital patients. It can also block up to 86% of the sun’s heat, making a medical facility more comfortable for those being treated. The significant reduction of the sun’s heat aids in the building’s energy efficiency as less energy is needed from the HVAC cooling systems and can save up to 30% of a building’s cooling costs.


With window film installed, Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center’s team and patients share relief to know they are in a place that is both comfortable, and more importantly, safe. Click here to read the full story.


How Ball State Built One of the Most Energy-Efficient College Campuses in the World

We’ve always needed energy to heat our homes. For the vast majority of human existence, we’ve gotten that energy from natural materials—first firewood, then slower-burning natural oil, then fossil fuels. But while we were gathering materials to consume, we were also busy discovering perhaps the most obvious source of heat apart from the sun—the earth itself.


According to, humans first discovered geothermal energy some 10,000 years ago when Native Americans heated themselves in naturally-occurring hot springs. Ever since, we’ve been trying to figure out how best to utilize the earth’s warmth. We’ve built towns on hot springs, heated homes with piped-in hot water, and even built power plants that run on steam. But even with all that progress, we as Americans have struggled to implement an energy-efficient geothermal system in a cost-effective way on a large scale.


Until now.



Enter Ball State


It gets cold in Indiana. Heating an entire college campus is expensive, and burning fossil fuels to do so is hardly energy efficient. Luckily, Ball State University, located in Muncie, Indiana, has launched an ambitious project that, if all goes right, will reduce campus carbon footprint by nearly one half. Engineers at Ball State have bored hundreds of holes into the ground around campus to access the heat of the earth. They can now turn that heat into a sustainable source of energy.




It’s an amazing process, and it’s called a geothermal energy system. The earth’s energy warms water, which travels through pipes that snake throughout the campus, alternatively warming or cooling—whichever is necessary—any given indoor area. The investment, like most energy-saving ventures, is a true win-win-win. The campus will save money, create a culture of environmental sustainability, and create thousands of contracting jobs while they’re at it. How cool is that?



Energy-Efficient Retail Options


So good for Ball State. A college campus has the resources to implement a dynamic change like redoing its entire heating system. But how does that affect you?

We’re glad you asked! Thanks to a new startup called Dandelion Energy, Inc.—and its new partner, Aztech Geothermal—you can build your own geothermal heating system for your very own home.




“Dandelion is making geothermal heating and cooling affordable by introducing a number of process and technology innovations, including analytics-based marketing, fixed system pricing, a low monthly payment option, and an innovative drilling method,” Green Builder Media writes.

So what are you waiting for? Geothermal energy is the wave of the . . . present. Harness it, and invest in your future!


Photo Credits: Ball State University Campus, Dandelion Energy, Inc.


Window Film Delivers Energy Savings for Apartment Complexes

If you’re the owner or property manager of an apartment complex, just juggling day-to-day repairs can keep you busy. But investing in a plan to upgrade your building’s energy efficiency will save you time and money in the long run.

The first building improvements that come to mind may be replacing old air conditioning units, installing extra insulation, or installing a new roof. But if window film isn’t at the top of that list, it needs to be.

Reduces Solar Heat Gain

Reduces Solar Heat GainMany apartment complexes have large windows and sliding glass doors which allow in direct sunlight. When the sun shines in, it heats up living spaces and runs up utility bills—both for the owner and the tenants. Having quality window film professionally installed can reduce unwanted solar heat gain by more than 80%, and cut cooling costs by as much as 30%, according to the International Window Film Association (IWFA).

Cost Effective Solution

Cost Effective SolutionWindow film installation can be three times more cost effective than replacing an air conditioner. In fact, window film can extend the life of HVAC systems by reducing maintenance and strains on the system.

Window film also costs less than replacing windows and sliding glass doors— allowing you to make other upgrades to the units. Plus, it offers other energy-saving benefits including:

· Reduces glare
· Offers UV protection
· Minimizes fading of furnishings, flooring, and décor
· Increases daytime privacy
· Improves building aesthetics

Energy Saving Rebates Available

Energy Saving Rebates AvailableThere are also a wide range of window film rebate programs available to commercial property owners. The rebates vary greatly from state to state, so it’s important to research your local utility company’s rules and regulations.


Top 5 Energy-Efficient Countries Series: Japan and Italy

Every year, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) releases a list of the top 23 most energy-efficient countries. Rankings are based on energy-efficiency for buildings, industry, national, and transportation efforts to reduce energy usage. Each country earns their spot according to accumulated efforts over the previous year.

Italy and Japan have tied at number two. Here’s a look at a few highlights.

National Efforts

National EffortsJapan came in second in the national efforts category based on the ACEEE report. The country has made a large reduction in energy intensity between 2000 and 2013. Japan also has strong energy saving goals, such as regulating criteria for energy efficiency and setting minimum energy performance standards for energy-consuming devices. With one of the most efficient thermoelectric power systems, Japan is able to utilize heat from solid waste. Italy, on the other hand, needs to improve its national efforts and invest more money into energy efficiency programs. Even though Italy is committed to an energy-savings target under the European Union’s Energy Efficiency Direction, it only saw a 9 percent reduction in overall energy intensity between 2000 and 2013. However, Italy’s strong showing in other areas helped it to tie for the number two spot.


TransportationBoth countries tied with 16 points in the area of conserving energy through transportation. Italy participates in the EU’s vehicle standards program and plans to reach up to 56.9 mpg fleet-wide by 2025. Currently, Italy’s average mpg per vehicle is about 38.6. Japan established the first fuel economy program for heavy-duty vehicles in 2005 and is one of only four countries to do so to date. Japan also hopes to reach a fleet-wide 45.9 mpg by 2025.


IndustryItaly has set standards in the industrial sector by establishing energy conservation targets. The country now requires all plant managers to meet these targets while implementing periodic audits. According to Italy’s report, a market-based energy efficiency scheme is the key to achieving the country’s industrial sector’s savings goal, which is set at 5.1 Mtoe (Million Tonnes of Oil Equivalent). Japan also did very well in this section of the analysis. Japan’s efforts toward a more energy-efficient industry include regulatory measures and voluntary actions. For example, The Act Concerning the Rational Use of Energy set mandatory requirements for designated industries back in 1978 and continues to be the foundation of standards, updated every year.

Some of these requirements include appointing an energy manager that reports the status of energy consumption annually and implementing a benchmark system that requires companies to set medium and long-term energy-saving goals. However, Japan could also improve in this section of the analysis by implementing more government support and financial backing.


How Will Energy Saving Efforts Pay Off?

Focusing on energy savings and making environmentally conscious decisions in the present day makes for a more “green” environment tomorrow. But sometimes, we don’t necessarily see how our efforts impact the world we live in immediately, so how do we know if what we are doing is working? And what kinds of changes can we expect to see years down the road? Lucky for us, environmentalists and researchers can help us understand the future of our planet and how much our investments will pay off in the future.



First of all, just how much are we investing (by year 2040)?


Well, let’s break it down by energy sources.


  • First of all just how much are we investing (by year 2040) - In-TextOnshore wind renewable electricity generation is projected to cost $2.4 trillion
  • Hydro-electric renewable energy will cost about $1.1 trillion
  • Offshore wind renewable electricity generation will round out at $464 billion
  • Small-scale photovoltaics is expected to cost $2.2 trillion
  • Large-scale photovoltaic projects will eventually cost around $1.5 trillion

Needless to say, we are sparing no expense.



What will become of those large investments?


While it’s hard to say exactly how much our planet will prosper from how much effort we put Who is involved and what can you do to help make these projections a reality - In-Textinto preserving energy, we can make estimations based on past successes. For example, based on an article released by the Union of Concerned Scientists, in 2012, renewable sources have the potential to provide about 482,247 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity per year. As a reference, this is 188 times the amount of electricity used around the United States annually. Basically, this means that if we continue to use resources such as water, air, sun, and earth, there will theoretically be a vast and insurmountable energy supply.



Who is involved, and what can you do to help make these projections a reality?


What will become of those large investments - In-TextWell, according to this infographic provided by FuelFighter, a majority of the world has bought into the vision. Only a few parts of Asia, South America, and Africa will lack in efforts in 2040. But there are few local things that can be done on a daily basis to help make sure the efforts have a positive outcome.


  • Use eco-friendly light bulbs
  • Use public transportation, or better yet, invest in a bike
  • Recycle, recycle, recycle!
  • Use green power such as solar panels
  • Turn off all electrical appliances when not in use
  • Buy rechargeable batteries
  • Open windows rather than using air-conditioning
  • Light a fire instead of using heat in the winter