Steps You Can Take to Become More Energy Efficient
The biggest cause of global warming is the carbon dioxide released when fossil fuels (oil, natural gas, and coal) are burned for energy. When you save energy, you fight global warming and often save money. Here are some steps that you can take to make a difference:
Heating & Cooling
- Have a home energy audit. They’re free for owners of 1-4 unit buildings through Mass Save. If you complete the audit recommendations, are eligible for a 75% rebate up to $2,000. Go to: www.masssave.com for more information.
- If you don’t think you can afford to improve the efficiency of your home you may qualify for additional savings on energy efficiency incentives. Please go to: http://www.masssave.com/residential/income-eligible-programs/
- Consider using a "green" mortgage to finance your energy efficient upgrades: http://www.mortgageloan.com/environment/
- Make sure you have enough insulation in your attic and walls. Seal and insulate your heating ducts. Seal drafts with caulk and weather stripping.
- Turn your heat down. For every degree you lower your thermostat you cut your energy use by 3%.
In the House, Low Cost or Free Energy Saving Tips
- Install a programmable thermostat. (See Appliances below for rebates on purchase) In winter open drapes of sunny windows to help warm the house and in summer close them to help keep the house cool. Make sure your air registers are clear of furniture. Place reflectors behind radiators.
- Open windows and use a window or ceiling fan to keep the residence cool in summer.
- Insulate your hot water heater if it’s more than 10 years old. Insulate your hot water pipes. Set your hot water heater to 120°F (between low and medium).
- Install low flow showerheads. Take shorter showers.
- Change your furnace and air conditioning filters regularly.
- Turn out the lights when you leave a room and/or install occupancy motion sensor light switches - available for about $15 at Walmart and Amazon.com
- Don’t leave water running in the house if you don’t have to.
- Collect your utility bills. Separate electricity and fuel bills. Target the biggest bill for energy conservation.
- Switch from incandescent to compact fluorescent light bulbs. Mass residents get free ones from an Energy Audit and you can order more at a big discount at http://energyfederation.org/consumer/default.php
Try these free energy saving tips.
- Set your refrigerator to 38-42°F and your freezer to 0-5°F.
- Use only cold water to wash full loads of clothes.
- Air dry your clothes. If you use a dryer, clean the lint trap and use the moisture sensor to tell when clothes are dry.
- Run the dishwasher only when it’s full and let the dishes air dry. Don’t let the water run as you hand wash dishes.
- Turn off your TV.
- Unplug appliances that you are not using (many draw electricity even when not in use).
- Turn off your computer if you will be away from it more than an hour, set it to sleep or stand by when you have not touched it for a few minutes.
Rebates are available for installing energy efficient gas furnaces and hot water heaters, air conditioning systems and programmable thermostats as well as for insulating, sealing and weatherizing. To check your eligibility go here: http://www.masssave.com/residential/heating-and-cooling/find-incentives/
Borrow a watt meter from the Waltham Public Library to see how much energy your appliances use. Unless they are ENERGY STAR rated, appliances with a lit display, electronics, and chargers (cell phone, etc.) draw electricity even when off. Unplug them or plug them into a power strip and turn the power strip off. Shut your computer down when not in use. Energy is lost during transmission from the utility to your home. For every watt of energy you save at home you save three watts being generated at the plant.
- Check your car’s carbon footprint (or a car you’re considering purchasing) at the US Department of Energy’s Fuel Economy website. http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/findacar.htm . This website also has information about which new cars are eligible for tax credits.
- Walk, bicycle, share rides, take the T, shop locally, buy locally grown food, and compost. Improve your gas mileage: maintain your car, check tire inflation monthly, don’t idle for more than 30 seconds, drive the speed limit, accelerate and brake gently.
- Offset your carbon use, especially when you fly. Here’s what you need to know: http://www.nrdc.org/globalWarming/offsets.asp
- There are federal tax credits available for geothermal heat pumps, residential wind turbines, solar energy systems and fuel cells. http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=tax_credits.tx_index. Massachusetts also has programs for assistance with solar, solar hot water, wind, biomass, and hydropower installations. Check out the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center http://www.masscec.com/index.cfm/page/Programs/pid/11159 for more information.
- Enroll in NSTAR Green at http://www.nstar.com/residential/customer_information/nstar_green/nstar_green.asp or National Grid GreenUp at http://www.nationalgridus.com/masselectric/home/energychoice/3_renewable.asp to help utilities purchase energy from renewable sources.
- It takes more energy to manufacture products from raw materials than it does to make them from recycled materials. Purchasing used products uses even less energy. Recycle and buy recycled. See Waltham’s redesigned recycling site: http://waltham.ma.us/recycling-department
- Speak up. Tell your concerns about global warming to Waltham City Councillors, Mayor McCarthy, Governor Patrick, President Obama, your elected state and federal officials, store owners and managers. The more they hear from you the more they will implement changes.
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