Once we’ve cut as much energy use as we can, it’s time to clean up the rest of the power that we use. We can do this by switching to renewables. The most effective way for most people to do so is with roof mounted solar energy. Clean, extremely local, and easier then you may think.
Today it is extremely simple to get solar installed through a solar leasing company. They do all the hard work of planning, permitting, installing, and maintaining the system, and you just pay a monthly bill that may even be less than what you spend now with your utility.
I’ve put in leased solar on two homes, first in 2008, and just recently in 2016. It keeps getting easier and quicker, as so much of the process is automated. All you do is provide your address, answer a few questions about your current energy use, and you get a complete quote, design, and electric production estimate within days. If you are happy with the projected cost savings and design, you’ll have your system installed and producing in just a couple months.
Be sure you shop around with reputable companies. Look for large national chains or highly rated local firms who have been in business for 10 years or more. There is a lot of consolidation going on in the industry, and since you’ll most typically be signing a 20-year lease, you want the company you pick to have a good shot at being around that long.
So, what will you notice once your solar is installed and operating? Nothing. Your lights and appliance will behave as before, you’ll go about your daily routine same as before. You may have a slight grin however when you boot up that computer or open the refrigerator door knowing you’ve drastically cut your carbon footprint, and are powering your life from the sun.
Everyone has long ago changed their light bulbs to CFLs and now LEDs, knows to turn down their thermostat, carpool, and turn off un-used lights to save energy. Here are a few other easy ways to use less power, save money, and protect the environment.
No I don’t mean spend less time in front of technology (not that that couldn’t help). I’m talking about unplugging devices that draw energy even when “off”. Most of your electronics, from TV’s to game consoles and computers work like this. The easiest way to ensure these “vampire” devices aren’t sucking a slow stream of electrons from your wall when not in use is to plug them into a power-strip. Then turn off the strip. You should be using power strips to protect your devices from surges anyway, so this is not an additional cost. It’s cheap insurance for those pricy electronics. Then use that off button on the strip to protect your wallet from your devices.
Cut water use
This is less obvious, but saving water also saves energy. There is a lot of embodied energy in pumping, treating, and delivering water to your home. And of course, if you are on a well, there is a direct energy savings in using less water. Reduce water use in the following ways:
- Don’t water your lawn. It’s ok if your grass goes dormant. It will come back. And bonus – you don’t have to spend as much time (and energy) cutting it.
- Install low-flow shower heads
- Reduce the volume of water your toilet uses. Many toilet mechanisms have a way to set the fill level. Make this as low as possible. Even easier, place a full, disposable water bottle in your tank, making sure it doesn’t interfere with the mechanism. I twill take up space and reduce every flush by about 12 oz.
Where water and energy meet.
And finally turn down your water heater. Your really don’t need scalding hot water on tap. It takes a lot of energy to keep 20, 30, of 50 gallons of water near boiling all the time. Frankly it’s safer to not risk someone scalding themselves from your tap. So turn it down a couple notches. Experiment with how low you can go and still get a comfortable sower, and clean your dishes. You may be surprised how over-heated your tank has been.
There you go; 5 simple, and free ways to turn down your energy use, while turning up your environmental commitment as well.