Conserve Energy, Save Money, Save the World: A High School Teacher Shows the Way

I recently came across an interesting article in the Christian Science Monitor: Surprise: Not-so-glamorous conservation works best. The article told the story of a high school teacher who wanted to reduce his electrical usage as much as possible, both to save money and help the environment:

When high school science teacher Ray Janke bought a home in Chicopee, Mass., he decided to see how much he could save on his electric bill.

He exchanged incandescent bulbs for compact fluorescents, put switches and surge protectors on his electronic equipment to reduce the “phantom load” – the trickle consumption even when electronic equipment is off – and bought energy-efficient appliances.

Two things happened: He saw a two-thirds reduction in his electric bill, and he found himself under audit by Mass Electric. The company thought he’d tampered with his meter. “They couldn’t believe I was using so little,” he says.

Mr. Janke had hit on what experts say is perhaps the easiest and most cost-effective place to reduce one’s energy consumption: home.

Moving closer to public transportation or riding a bike instead of driving is not an option for many, but changing incandescent bulbs for fluorescent and buying more efficient appliances is not only possible, it quickly pays for itself with savings.

Janke switched to compact fluorescent lighting, a vastly cheaper and more environmentally responsible choice for home lighting. He also installed surge protectors to cut down on incidental electrical use, another less-dramatic saver.

Although I have little interest in getting audited by the electric company, I do have a serious interest in both saving money and doing little things to save the environment. The best part is that by reducing your electrical usage, you’re not only saving money, but you’re having a positive impact on the environment:

The best place to start is to reduce electricity consumption. Power plants lose two-thirds of their energy in waste heat. For every one unit of electricity your space heater consumes, for example, two units have been lost at the power plant. This inefficiency is reflected in electricity’s cost to consumers.

Simple home energy maneuvers can not only save you money, but they can reduce the impact you have on the environment by reducing the amount of excess heat you produce. Just by doing a few simple things that require no maintenance once you get started, you can cut down on your electric bills and help save the environment.

Here’s a checklist to get started.

Replace incandescent light bulbs with CFLs: They use about a fifth as much electricity as normal bulbs and produce the same amount of light.
Install surge protectors for your electronic devices: Not only will they be protected during a storm, they also eliminate the minor electrical “drag” that electronic devices constantly consume even when powered off.
Install programmable thermostats: These devices allow you to carefully program the temperature in each room in your home, including automatic temperature reductions in the evening, that can save millions of watts (and up to $100) a year.

Sometimes you can help your pocketbook and help the planet at the same time.

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