Stay Warmer This Winter with Window Film

When you think about how window film works, the fact that it keeps harmful UV rays and heat out of your home makes logical sense, but did you know that window film also retains heat inside of your home? Considering that the average home loses about one-third of its heat through windows and doors, window film can go a long way toward conserving energy and keeping your winter heating costs down.


Keeping Your Money from Going Out the Window

Keeping Your Money from Going Out the WindowHeat is attracted to cold, so hot air will flow to cold windows. But with window film that absorbs the sunshine, windows are kept warm. This keeps the warm air within the room and requires less heat from the heater to maintain a comfortable temperature.


Protection from a Closer Winter Sun

Protection from a Closer Winter SunThe sun is closer to the earth during the winter, which means even more exposure to its damaging UV rays. But window film lets you enjoy the natural light and views while protecting your furnishings. Window film also reduces glare, which may be more of a problem in the winter when UV rays reflect upward off of the bright snow.


Learn More About Window Film

Learn More About Window FilmTo learn more about window film protection, check out this informative guide, “Beauty Inside & Out,” from the International Window Film Association – you’ll be surprised at what you’ll learn. Here’s just one fact to consider:


“UVA rays account for up to 95 percent of UV radiation reaching the Earth’s surface and although they are less intense than UVB, UVA rays are 30 to 50 times more prevalent, and go through glass, making sun protection necessary inside as well as outside.”


Or if you’re more of a visual person, check out this infographic that explains all of the benefits of window film. From UV protection to energy conservation, it’s helping people in your community live better lives in many ways.


5 Energy Savings Myths Busted

So you’ve started implementing a few energy savings tips to cut down on home utility bills. Good job! But some tips are not as effective as you think. In fact, your efforts might be costing you money. Let’s bust some myths.



Close vents and registersMyth 1: Close vents and registers in unused rooms to save energy.


In reality, energy is consumed through the heating and cooling unit itself, especially if you have a central HVAC system. When you restrict air at the vent, it simply redirects the flow to other areas of the home or through leaks in your duct system. This puts increased pressure back on the system’s fan that pushes out the air. All that you are doing is forcing your system to work harder and use more energy.



Crank the thermostat higherMyth 2: Crank the thermostat higher to heat or cool a home faster.


When your HVAC system kicks on, it is already producing hot or cold air at its maximum potential. The home will not come to your comfort level any faster than if you adjust the thermostat to a standard setting. What a drastic setting will do is lengthen the run-time of the system, which bumps up your energy usage and heads into an uncomfortable temperature.



Turning on and off a lightMyth 3: Turning on and off a light generates more energy than leaving it on.


Somehow, the theory that turning on a light bulb creates a power surge has survived being debunked. In truth, there is no significant power draw when a light is switched on. Simply put, leaving a light on draws energy. Even if you are leaving a room for only a few minutes, flip the switch to off or invest in auto-sensors that will shut off lights for you.



Your computers screen saverMyth 4: Your computer’s screen saver is also an energy saver.


When the screen saver application is running, your computer comes back to life immediately with a finger click. Your computer has been running at capacity all along with additional energy used to run the screen saver! Today, most computers and monitors have power management settings, which allow you to save energy by putting them to sleep or shutting them off after a preset period of time. However, even power management mode uses energy. When you will be gone for longer periods, especially at night and on weekends, power down your equipment completely.



Keep your thermostat at one constant temperatureMyth 5: Keep your thermostat at one constant temperature.


You’ve likely heard conflicting information on where to set your thermostat when not at home. Here’s the deal. Keeping your home at the same temperature uses more energy than bringing the house up to temperature. You will use less energy to warm up a cold room in the morning or cool off a warm house when you get home from work. The better energy saving option is to set the temperature just a few degrees off your standard and toss on a throw or close curtains to block sunlight.


With these long-standing energy savings tips debunked, you’ve got the know-how to become more efficient at cutting down energy usage in your home.


Home Office Energy Saving Tips

According to the Global Workplace Analytics latest telecommuting statistics, an estimated 3.3 million Americans work from home. Working remotely may save you gas for your car, but what about its impact on your energy bills? The home office is a big contributor to total home energy usage, but by employing a few energy saving tips, you can also save money without sacrificing office performance.





Laptop In TextDepending on your usage, ENERGY STAR labeled office equipment such as cordless phones and computers will use 30-60% less electricity than standard equipment. You’ll save more energy by using all-in-one devices that combine multiple functions (print, copy, scan). An ENERGY STAR labeled flat-panel LCD monitor uses one-half to two-thirds less power than an equally sized CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) screen, and it can save you $10 to $30 per year in electricity costs. Instead of a desktop computer that uses nearly 130 watts of electricity, buy a laptop that consumes 15 watts only, and you’ll save one-third the power.


Most devices consume electricity even when switched off. The AC adaptor for printers, scanners and laptops draws power continuously, so turn them off when they are not in use. Make it simple to power down all devices at once by grouping your plugs into one power strip. Even better, find a power strip that senses when devices aren’t in use, and it shuts them off for you. Don’t forget to turn off monitors and unplug battery chargers as well.



Power Management


Sleep Mode In TextSave energy by putting your computer in low-power sleep mode, and you’ll get the added benefits of keeping the machine cooler and retaining longer battery life. The website provides a list of operating systems with easy instructions on how to enable your power management settings. Additionally, you can adjust the settings for when you stop using the computer for a period of time, such as a lunch break or phone calls. Turn it off completely if you’ll be away for more than two hours.





Lighting In TextSetting up energy efficient lighting is one of the simplest ways to save money. Arrange your desk to make the most of natural light on sunny days. Switch to halogen incandescent bulbs, LED, or compact fluorescent light bulbs, which last longer and use one-quarter to one-third of the power of conventional bulbs. Instead of relying entirely on overhead lights, conserve bulb usage by setting up task lighting. Place a floor lamp in a corner, and it will magnify light throughout the room.





Desk Fan In TextWhen home alone during the day, avoid running heat or air conditioning at capacity for the entire house. Lower the thermostat a bit and supplement your office with a space heater in the winter or with fans in the summer. Just don’t forget to unplug them when they’re not in use.

Your office is one of the easiest rooms to tackle when making your home more energy efficient. Performing just a few mindful changes will save you energy and save you money.


5 Ways to Save Energy in Your Home

Whether you want to save money or do your part to help save the environment, there are hundreds of ways to save energy inside your home. And the truth is, many of these tried-and-true tips reduce home energy consumption without requiring any major changes or financial investments.


If you start with these five easy steps, you can start saving energy immediately.



1. Adjust the Thermostat


According to the Energy Department, it costs homeowners $11 billion every year to power their air conditioners. To lower that bill, set the thermostat to the highest temperature as comfortably possible; the smaller the difference between the indoor and outdoor temperature, the higher the savings. Installing a programmable thermostat can help save up to 10% on cooling and heating costs a year. Regularly cleaning and replacing the filters in your cooling/heating system also increases efficiency. And, move appliances that give off heat, such as lamps or TVs, away from the thermostat.



2. Keep it Clean


>While many utility companies offer discounts and rebates for the purchase of energy efficient appliances, their websites also provide simple tips to save, including one that doesn’t cost a thing— start with good old-fashioned housekeeping. Try dusting the coils behind your refrigerator every time you dust your house; it helps the compressor cool faster and run less frequently. Cleaning the lint filter on the dryer before every load keeps the dryer running efficiently.

3. Cut Down Cooking Time


You can also save energy in your kitchen with a more efficient use of your stove and oven. Limit pre-heating the oven unless necessary and keep the door closed. The temperature can drop by approximately 25 degrees each time you open the over door. You can also turn the oven off when food is almost ready, the existing heat will finish the cooking for you. The same holds true for the burners on your stove. For smaller meals, try using a toaster oven or convection oven; both use about one-third to one-half as much energy as a full-size oven.



4. Pull the Plug


If you have a lot of home electronics, take a closer look at what’s plugged in and if it’s turned on. Home electronics should be plugged into a power strip, which you can turn off when not in use, to save in energy costs. Most battery chargers, when fully charged, or not in use, draw power continuously. And don’t forget to select the “standby” or “sleep” mode on power features like clock displays and computer screens.



5. Turn off the Lights


When mom said to turn off the lights when you leave a room, she wasn’t just trying to be a pest. You can save energy and ultimately money by flipping the switch. The amount of savings varies depending on the type of lighting used, for example with incandescent lights, an estimated 90% of the energy used is given off as heat; the remaining 10% is light. Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) are already efficient, so energy experts say it’s best to turn the lights off only when you are going to be out of the room for 15 minutes or more. You also may want to consider timers and motion detectors.


Save Energy No Matter Where You Live

You can employ a number of tools to make your home more efficient. But, when you’re on a fixed budget or only have time for one or two improvements, it’s important to choose the most effective option to save energy. Where you live in the U.S. will help determine your energy-saving priorities.

Save Energy No Matter Where You Live - Infographic thumb


Travel Green and Save Energy

Green travel encompasses a wide variety of practices that support sustainability. While many of these are not directly related to energy efficiency, two of your biggest travel choices are: where to stay and what transportation to use. As our society continues to become more eco-conscious, the list of green offerings continues to grow, making it easier than ever to travel the planet while being kind to it.



Green Hotels


Green HotelsHotels can earn green certifications for a range of sustainability factors, including energy efficiency, water conservation, recycling, and environmental impact. One of the most well known designations comes from the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) program. These hotels have been built or renovated with best-in-class practices that conserve resources and promote renewable energy. Some other established green hotel designations come from Green Key, Green Seal and Energy Star.


TripAdvisor makes it easy to find green hotels with their GreenLeaders program. You simply “look for the leaf” – a special badge placed on a green hotel’s listing page. When you click on the leaf, a window comes up where you can see that hotel’s green practices and certifications. Expedia offers a whole microsite on green travel, complete with hotel options that “balance environmental protection and social responsibility – without sacrificing luxury.”



Green Transportation


Green TransportationIf you have to fly to your destination, fly nonstop, as the plane’s takeoff and landing are a significant percentage of its carbon emissions. Taking the train is a better way to go, or driving, though the type of car you drive obviously makes a difference. Once you’re at your destination, consider using public transit, biking or walking instead of taking a cab or renting a car. If you do rent a car, go with the smallest one to fit your needs or rent a hybrid.


Check out Global Green Travel for even more tips.


How to Save on Energy with Outdated Appliances

When a light bulb burns out, you replace it. When a door knob wiggles loose, you fix it. Appliances, however, aren’t always so simple to fix. For many, when shopping for an appliance, energy efficiency is top priority– especially since they make up 13% of your home’s total energy costs. But keep in mind that dryers, refrigerators, and dishwashers are built to last for years. So before you consider getting rid of your outdated appliances, implement these simple tricks to help prolong their efficiency.



Refrigerator and Freezer


Refrigerator and FreezerIn addition to properly storing your food, the Food and Drug Administration recommends keeping your fridge set at or below 40°F and the freezer at 0°F. That’s perfectly in line with the website’s recommended 35-38°F, which  is optimal for keeping food fresh and your fridge running for the long term. You’ll also want to be sure your refrigerator door shuts securely. Not even a dollar bill should be able to slide through the seal. Of course, if it does, resealing the door (or drawer) is a quick fix.


Defrosting your refrigerator is a more tedious task, but one that’s integral to keeping an outdated appliance from using excess energy. Any more than a quarter-inch of frost buildup will largely impact your appliance’s cooling ability. Since older refrigerators often feature manual defrost systems, you’ll want to check this about once a week. Follow the defrosting instructions specific to your make and model.





DishwasherDishwashers built before 1994 can waste more than 10 gallons of water per cycle. But the process of heating that water is the greatest source of expense. The Energy department recommends lowering your home’s water heater to 120°F. When selecting a wash mode, skip “rinse and hold”; it uses 3-7 gallons of hot water. Instead, choose the “air dry” setting, shut off the dishwasher once it’s done rinsing, and crack open the door to let dishes dry.


It may be tempting to let the machine do all of the work. Unfortunately, this is not a luxury for older units. You can avoid having to run a second cycle, or use hot water to finish them by hand, when you take a few minutes to scrape leftover food into the trash or garbage disposal.



Clothes Washer


Clothes WasherYou don’t need a brand new high-efficiency washer; just be mindful of how much energy is required by hot-water loads. Navigate around costs by choosing a cold-water setting. Only wash clothes when you have a full load, and adjust the water level accordingly. As long as clothes aren’t caked in mud, you can get away with a low-soil setting to limit water usage.






DryerIt’s almost too easy, but cleaning the lint screen after every load can help your dryer run more efficiently. Whenever possible, hang clothes to dry. If clothes and towels become too stiff from air drying, throw them in the dryer for about five minutes with one fabric softener sheet. It’s just enough time to fluff up your laundry without using much energy at all.


Remember, no matter how outdated your appliances may look on the outside, it’s how efficiently they work that will ultimately save you energy and money.


Energy Efficiency Tips for the Garage

When we get on a mission to start saving energy, the obvious focus is on the inside of our homes. But the next time you step into your garage, take a look around. This area provides you with even more energy efficiency options than you realize, and offers real potential to cut your energy costs.



Air Leaks Waste Energy


Air Leaks Waste EnergyIf your garage is connected to the home, you may be letting in air that affects the temperature of inside rooms adjacent to it. Insulate the walls shared with your home, and add a storm door to the entrance from garage to interior room. Inspect the door frame as well as any garage windows for cracks or gaps and use weatherstripping and caulk to seal air leaks.


What about the biggest door of your home? Your garage door is likely the least insulated of all your house entries. Install weatherstripping around the door and look for fiberglass duct wrap, reflective radiant barriers or foamed insulation panels that you can attach to its internal side, to make the door more energy efficient. A word of caution: If you keep cars in the garage, be careful not to make the area so airtight that exhaust fumes can’t escape, which can cause carbon monoxide poisoning.



Make the Light Bulb Switch


Make the Light Bulb SwitchYou’ve made the effort to switch your indoor lights to CFL or LED bulbs, so take that energy efficiency motivation right into the garage. If you use long fluorescent tubes as your light fixtures, switch them to CFL or LED tubes and they’ll pay for themselves in less than nine months, according the Department of Energy. Install a manual light timer that you can adjust to shut off garage lights after a few minutes. Look for an ultrasonic timer, which detects sound, or find an infrared one that detects heat and motion.



Spare Refrigerators Can Be Costly


Spare Refrigerators Can Be CostlyDo you have an old refrigerator in the garage that you keep for parties and holiday food overflow? If it is running constantly but is unused and empty most of the time, unplug it, or it can add up to more than $100 per year on your utility bills. In an unconditioned garage during hot weather, your refrigerator has to work extra hard to retain a cool temperature. Give your refrigerator a break, and move it to the basement if you have one. And if your appliance is old, consider this from the website: more than 60 million refrigerators are over 10 years old, costing consumers $4.7 billion a year in energy costs! When you buy a new ENERGY STAR certified refrigerator, you can save between $35–$300 on energy costs over its lifetime. Don’t forget to call your utility company to pick up your old one and recycle it for you!


You may not think the garage contributes much to your utility bill, but it is likely the most inefficient room for energy in your home. Instead of thinking of your garage as an extension of the outdoors, consider it as part of your house and take steps to reduce its energy usage and your utility costs.


How to Save Energy at Work

If you’re like many homeowners, you’re trying to make your home more energy efficient so you have a lower electric bill. But energy efficiency doesn’t stop at home, you can also practice energy efficiency at work. Whether a business owner or employee, you can save energy at work and reduce the company’s electric bill with these simple tips.



Energy Vampires


Energy VampiresJust like at home, your office can fall victim to vampire energy. Vampire energy, also known as standby power, is when your appliance or electronic device is plugged in and uses electrical power regardless of whether it’s turned on or off. Most office equipment experiences only a small amount of energy drainage; however; that adds up over time, making up 10% or more of your electric bill. Avoiding the wrath of these energy-sucking vampires can be as simple as unplugging your phone charger when not in use. You can also purchase a power strip that kills the energy drain from these devices when powered off. Once you’ve determined the best power strip for your needs, you will reduce wasted energy consumption and your electric bill.



Office Electronics


Office ElectronicsComputers, monitors, copiers, and modems are the major office appliances that use the most electric in the office. A study done by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that computer notebooks use up the most amount of energy on standby power. These larger pieces of office equipment also contribute to internal heat gain. So even when you’re not using your device, heat still builds up and the AC continues to run. To avoid these issues, there are several steps you can take.


  • Avoid screen savers as they do not conserve energy and make computers a major target of vampire energy.
  • Sleep mode reduces your computer’s watt usage. If you are going to a meeting or making a coffee run, turn your computer to sleep mode to save electricity. In most cases, when you have your device on sleep mode, you can save more than $100 dollars per year. Major office appliances should be equipped with the sleep mode feature, and you should check with your manufacturer to ensure that your device is running as efficiently as possible.
  • Turn off your devices if you know you will not be using them for an extended period of time. This is the cheapest and easiest way to save energy on those office electronics because you do not need to spend any money and it only takes the effort of remembering to power down your device. If it’s plugged into a smart power strip, remember to shut off the device and then shut off the power strip. This can save you as much as $44 per computer annually.
  • Unplug your device if it is seldom used. It is important to remember that once the device is turned off, it should then be unplugged from the outlet to avoid vampire energy.

Try to be more conscious of how your office equipment is using up energy and identify what needs to be plugged in and what doesn’t. It could save you and your company money in the long run.


Ever Wonder How Dams Save You Energy?

We in America love our dams. They are symbols of American ingenuity. The water churning through the energy-producing turbines of the massive Hoover Dam is a symbol of what the country can accomplish when it puts its mind to a task. There are some 80,000 dams in the United States, and each provides hydropower to a nearby community.


Or so you’d think.



Untapped Potential


Untapped-potentialAs a matter of fact, very few dams are used to harness the energy-saving potential of water. Not even three percent of the nation’s dams produce power. Why? Dams, as we currently imagine them, are actually quite bulky, inefficient power-saving structures. So why are we talking about the potential of American hydropower if dams are an outdated clean energy source?


I’m glad I asked.


“Reviving hydropower does not mean recreating the hulking masses of concrete that defined mid-20th-century power development,” Brett Walton of Circle of Blue writes. “The prime spots are already plugged, and big new dams no longer fit the time . . . The alternative model is to make better use of infrastructure already in the ground.”



The 21st-Century Dam


The-21st-century-damLet’s find out what that alternative model looks like. If we lack imagination, it could be costly. As Walton writes, many 20th century dams are problematic: they clog our waterways, disrupting delicate ecosystems and sterilize our watersheds. But if we make minor repairs and additions to existing infrastructure, we could easily utilize the power of our nation’s rivers.


For example, adding a power turbine to an existing dam, although not perfectly ecologically sound, is much less destructive to the environment than erecting an entirely new dam. Structures called “pump storage” dams, which use excess energy to pump water from a low-elevation reservoir to a high-elevation one, are already clean energy success stories in European countries. And tearing down old, non-energy supplying dams could revitalize neglected ecosystems and chart a course for the new century’s dam decision-making process.


We haven’t figured out hydropower. But if we take a good hard look at the problem and choose our dam sites wisely, there’s no reason dams shouldn’t be a part of this century’s clean energy revolution.