8/13/2013

Eco Improvements 3: Energy Conservation

"Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's needs." - Mahatma Gandhi

Of course there are many ways to conserve energy and money, and some are easier than others. Here is a short list of some varying ways to cut energy costs for yourself and help reduce your footprint.


Energy Efficient Appliances


A marvelous way to improve your sustainability, home, and help out your wallet is to make the switch to energy efficient appliances. It is true that in general energy efficient appliances cost more than their out dated and energy-sucking counterparts, but in the long run they cost far less!

For example a top-loader washer may use up to 40 gallons of water per load. An energy efficient front loader may use as little as 10 per load. Front loaders generally take less energy to dry clothes as well since they use less water.

According to the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) an energy efficient appliance saves an average of over $100.00 a year on electricity. Combine that with the water from a washer, and potentially gas from a stove or dryer and the savings continue to increase.

Still unsure about making the switch? Does the initial price point have you jilted? Then consider this: The Department of Energy (in other words, the Federal Government) will give you a tax credit, partial rebate or refund depending on your appliance. Savings could be upwards of $500! Additionally other outside sources like DTE or Consumers Energy may offer their own separate refund or rebate on the item.

Before purchasing a new appliance, make sure to check out Energy.gov to see what rebates, refunds, or credits are available. Use the filter tool at the top to search by state, improvement (doesn't have to be appliances), and providers to see if you can qualify. Don't worry - a lot of these programs run until 2016!



Windmills


Windmills are an excellent way to help yourself and the environment. Windmills generate electricity when they are turned by air currents which means the energy is free and therefore clean. Windmills can cost less than $1,000.00 to make yourself, but require a sufficient research to do so. If you don't want to build one yourself, then you can purchase one, or find a contractor who knows how to construct them. 
Be sure to research zoning laws when considering a project of this nature. Also keep in mind height, and location. For a windmill to offset your electricity bill you'll need to generate a certain amount of power. Make sure the area you live in is windy enough to substantiate your investment in a windmill.



Rain Barrels


Rain barrels are an excellent way to help mother nature and conserve resources. Place them under gutters or anywhere rain gathers and falls on your property. Rain barrels are used to collect rain water, and store it for later use. The most common uses of the water are watering lawns, flower beds, and gardens. Rain barrels are also excellent in areas that receive less annual rainfall or are prone to droughts.
Make sure to place a screen over your rain barrel to avoid debris. Barrels can be purchased at many home improvement stores or online. Some have spigots for attaching hoses. Be aware however, that in some states rain barrels are illegal due to what legislators call "unlawful water diversion."





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