The first Wednesday in October Is Energy Efficiency Day. Its message is simple: "Save Money. Cut Carbon. Breathe Easier." Here are some easy ways to improve your home's energy use and a tool for estimating appliance and home energy use.
How To Estimate Your Home's Electronic Energy Use
Energy.gov has a neat tool that lets you get a handle on how much electronic energy your home is using. You can use this Appliance Energy Calculator to pick an appliance, the state you live in, and the number of days the appliance is in use to come up with an estimated amount of energy that the device uses each year, and how much that is costing you.
Here's an example:
You can choose from dozens of appliances, from aquarium tank pumps to water heaters. It's a great way to learn where you may be able to save some money and energy by either unplugging certain appliances when not in use or replacing them with ENERGY STAR® versions.
Simple Ways to Reduce Your Energy Consumption
If you want to lower your home energy bills and be more environmentally friendly. here are some simple steps to take:
• Use LEDs. They last at least 25 times longer and consume up to 90 percent less electricity than incandescent bulbs.
• Heating and cooling account for almost half of a home's energy consumption. In fact, all the little leaks can equate to leaving a 3-foot-by-3-foot window open. Make sure you seal any gaps around windows, doors, switch plates, vents, chimneys, recessed lights, attic doors, and electrical outlets. The age-old test of holding a candle around openings to see if there is a draft works well to help you find out where to caulk or add insulation.
• Install a smart thermostat so you can program temperatures to reflect your at-home and away cooling and heating.
• If you have to replace any appliances or windows/doors, make sure you check the ENERGY STAR® Label. ENERGY STAR® labeled windows can cut heating costs by as much as 30% compared to single-pane windows.
• Turn off any appliances and lights when not in use. This is also a good idea if you live in an area where afternoon thunderstorms may hit when you aren't at home. With the global chip shortage currently happening, replacing damaged appliances before the new year could be next to impossible.
• Use your blinds and curtains to help keep out the sun in the summer and let the light and warmth in the winter. Curtains can also be effective in keeping cold air contained at night in the winter.
• Use your dishwasher. Cleaning your dishes by hand in the sink can cost up to 3 times more than using your dishwasher. Even if the appliance is only half full. Avoid the "rinse hold" cycle and skip heated drying. Open the door at the end of the wash cycle and let the dishes air dry.
• Make sure your air filters are changed/cleaned regularly, and consider an air duct cleaning so your HVAC system doesn't have to work as hard to push air through.
• Change the direction of your ceiling fan blades so it forces the rising warm air back toward the floor.
• Take a look at your landscaping. Windbreaks reduce heating costs by lowering the wind chill near your home. Plant your windbreak at a distance from your home of two to five times the mature height of the trees. Choose trees and shrubs that have low crowns to block wind close to the ground. Dense evergreen trees and shrubs planted to the north and northwest of the home are the most common type of windbreak. Avoid planting evergreens too close to your home's south side if you want to collect heat from the winter sun.
How Mutual Assurance Practices Energy Efficiency
At Mutual Assurance, we practice energy efficiency daily. All of our offices utilize motion sensor light switches to turn off the new LED light fixtures when movement isn't detected after 5 minutes, so unused spaces aren't being lit up. We also use programmable thermostats and ENERGY STAR® appliances in our kitchen.
Energy Efficiency Facts
Germany is the most energy-efficient country in the world. The US comes in at 13th.
The entire month of October is also Energy Efficiency Month.
Some Ways To Help With Your Own Energy
1. Hydrate with salt & water
2. Get morning sunlight
3. Get outside
4. Go for a walk
5. Take a 20-minute nap
Sources: US Department of Energy, Arbor Day Foundation,