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Our Homes Use Energy Like It's Going Out Of Style

The typical U.S. family in the northeast spends $1,800 or more a year on home energy bills, and some of that energy is wasted. Heating, ventilating and air conditioning units are inefficient, windows leak conditioned air, and appliances devour energy.

This is money out of your pocket, and it's bad news for the environment—electricity generated by fossil fuels for a single home puts more carbon dioxide into the air than two average cars.


The Good News?

Well, maybe using so much energy—especially in the form of fossil fuels—is going out of style. Homeowners and renters know that saving energy means saving money, and they're realizing that it does not mean sacrificing functionality. There are many things you can do to save energy, ranging from long term investments to simple no or low cost changes. In fact, simple adjustments — like letting your dishes air dry — add up to significant savings.


Looking for long-term savings? Because we use and waste energy in so many ways, there are plenty of options for cutting back. If you replace 25% of your lights in high-use areas with fluorescents, you can save about 50% of your lighting energy bill. In the market for a new appliance? Invest a little extra money in an energy efficient product and save more money in the long run. If you're building an addition to your home, Low-E double paned windows and proper insulation will reduce your heating and cooling costs, and strategically placed windows will provide daylighting. From water heating to landscaping, most areas of your home offer opportunities to save.


But we will always need energy, and that's why many homeowners are turning to renewable energy sources for a cleaner, more sustainable choice. This can mean investing in solar panels to supply your home's electricity or purchasing a solar water heater. It can also mean installing ground source heat pumps that use the heat of the earth to moderate the temperature of your home. In many areas, utility companies offer clean energy options such as wind power.


And that's not all. While you're at the business of saving money, you'll help reduce dependence on fossil fuels, which increases domestic security. You'll also help the environment. In 2000, residences accounted for 20% of U.S. energy related carbon dioxide emissions — that's 313.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. Saving energy also goes hand in hand with other sustainable choices, like saving water and using more friendly materials and products, like paint, carpet, and cleaners. This is good news for the environment, but it also improves the health of your home, so you can breathe easy.


So, where to start? A home energy audit will help you determine what changes will save the most energy and money. The US Department of Energy's Energy Savers Web site is full of useful tips for saving energy, and their Home Energy Saver Web site allows you to plug in specific information about your home to find out where you have the most potential for savings.


By now, chances are you've come up with a much better way to spend your money than sending it out your single paned window. A college savings fund, perhaps, or a water saving clothes washer? Or how about that vacation you've been dreaming about?




Copyright 2012 Ronald Sauve All Rights Reserved

This page was last modified on April 06, 2012

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