Defenders of Wildlife

Wildlife eNews Enviro Tip

Most folks know that the only real solution to the energy crisis is through improved energy efficiency, increased conservation and the development of new technologies.

Wildlife eNews subscribers get it, even if some of their elected representatives don’t. In last month’s poll, 92 percent said we should invest more heavily in developing alternative energy sources, 72 percent said we should improve vehicle fuel efficiency and 63 percent said we should increase conservation measures.

You might not be able to design the next generation of fuel efficient vehicles yourself, but here are some simple ways you can help conserve energy (and save money) this winter:

Cheap & Easy Fixes:

  • Seal leaks between doors and frames with weather stripping. Fill leaks between non-moving parts (window frames and walls) with caulking. These products are available at major home improvement stores, and non-toxic versions are also available online.
  • Increasing insulation can reduce home heating costs by 30 percent or more. Start with attic insulation and then move to exterior and basement walls, floors and crawl spaces.
  • Make sure the seams are sealed in all of your ductwork. Use duct mastic instead of duct tape. It will last longer and does a better job.
  • Replace your incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents. These are not the fluorescents of years past—many of the new ones have the same lighting characteristics as incandescents. Replacing just the four most-used 100-watt incandescents with 23-watt fluorescents (which are brighter and thus need less wattage) will save $108 over three years. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency states that if every U.S. household changed 5 high-use lights to high-efficiency bulbs, it would avoid a TRILLION pounds of greenhouse gas emissions per year.
  • If you don’t like to come home to a dark house on those cold winter days, install timers on a light or two rather than leaving your lights on all day.
  • A programmable thermostat is a cheap and easy way to save a lot of energy. You can set it to turn the heat off at night when you’re under the covers and turn on before your feet hit the floor in the morning
  • Let the sunshine in. Keep blinds and drapes open on sunny windows during the day and close them at night.

Longer Term Goals:

  • Upgrade your old inefficient windows, glass doors and skylights with new Energy Star models. In cold climates, new double-paned, low-e windows can reduce your heating bills by 34 percent compared to the old single-paned models.
  • Look for the Energy Star label when replacing your heating and cooling systems—as well as when replacing appliances, lighting, insulation and home electronics. Some of the new Energy Star certified furnaces and boilers achieve 95 percent efficiency and higher. Some older models of furnaces achieve around 50 percent efficiency.
  • Consider moving away from oil and gas furnaces and boilers and buying furnaces that burn more renewable fuels—such as corn and wood pellets (which can be purchased from large home improvement stores). For the right homes, corn-burning furnaces, boilers, stoves and fireplaces can totally replace the oil and gas models. In others, it’s a great supplement. Plus, you can support local farmers who often struggle during the winter months to make ends meet.
  • With new federal tax credits (to start in 2006), and credits or tax deductions in many states, solar energy is becoming an increasingly affordable option. The higher short-term cost of solar pays for itself in the long run and adds value to homes. Many states have net metering laws that allow solar users to put energy back into the grid and move their meters backwards!