Appliance Off – It Doesn’t Mean No Energy Used

Many modern appliances may be using as much as 15 to 30 watts when off or in Stand-by mode. Some may actually be using the same amount of energy off as they are when on. One common term for these devices is ‘energy vampires’.

Stand-by power is estimated to be as much as 5 percent of all residential energy being used in the United States. A homeowner can see hundred of dollars per year being used by stand-by power. It is estimated to be about 65 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity each year costing consumers more than 5.6 billion dollars.

What are some common items that use this stand-by power? Anything with an external power pack, has a remote control or displays a clock will be using some stand-by power. The most common are TV’s VCR, Cable Boxes and Stereo Systems.

The real problem with this stand-by power consumption isn’t that they use power, but they have been poorly designed to use more power than necessary. Manufacturers presently have no reason to design their products with efficiency in mind. Only when consumers begin to evaluate brands with this as a consideration will that occur.

In many cases the older the appliance the more energy it may be using than with a newer model. When purchasing a new appliance look for the one that uses the least amount of stand-by power by checking the label and specifications.

While it may not make much sense to unplug the TV, VCR or DVD player when not in use, it may not be a bad idea to unplug these devices when away for an extended period of time such as when on vacation or even a weekend away.

One thing you probably would want to consider unplugging when not in use are battery chargers for items such as cell phone, MP3 players and blackberries. If you have all of these chargers plugged into the same power strip simply turn the strip off when not in use. Make it a habit to charge all of the devices at the same time and turn the strip off when done.

© 2007 Steven G. Atkinson – All Rights Reserved

Switch Off the Lights

There’s no doubt that when a light is off it is not using energy. So switching off the lights is always a good idea. But depending on the type of light involved and the length of time will depend on the amount savings. Operating life of some bulbs are effected by the number of times it’s switched on and off.

Incandescent Lights
These are simple. They should be turned off whenever they are not being used. All type of incandescent bulbs are inexpensive to produce as well as being lighting inefficient. As much as 85% of the electricity used by incandescent bulbs is turned into heat. No only will turning this type of bulb off give extra benefit in the summer with cooling cost but the value of the energy savings is far greater than the cost of having to replace the bulb.

Fluorescent Lights
These lights are more complicated as to how to determine cost effectiveness. The general rule is that you should turn off a fluorescent light whenever it won’t be needed for 15 minute or longer. This obviously depends on a number of factors including the cost of electric, the cost of a replacement and even type of bulb.

One item that doesn’t factor into it as much as people may think is the amount of energy that is used by the initial ‘inrush’ of current when a fluorescent is first turned on. The amount of energy used depends on the type of starter. Some types of starters are more efficient than others.

With high efficient ballast the initial higher current levels last for a short period of time. Some as short as a fraction of a second. That amount of energy can be saved with only a few seconds of none operation.

The real factors depend on the life and cost of the fluorescent lighting system. Their operating life is effected by the number of times they are switched on and off. They are also more expensive.

In summary when leaving a room that uses incandescent bulbs turn the light out. If leaving one with fluorescent lights for more than 15 minutes turn them off, otherwise it’s ok to leave them on.

© 2007 Steven G. Atkinson – All Rights Reserved

Some things to do around the house

Keep filters on furnaces or air conditioners clean. Many systems are recommended to have the filters replaced or clean once a month.

Clear dirt and dust from the coils of refrigerators and freezers. Having them clean allows them to cool more efficiently.

Use fluorescent instead of incandescent lighting. Florescent uses less energy to supply the same amount of light, they last longer and burn cooler. Turn lights off when not being used.

Turn off computers at night, and use sleep mode as often as possible. Reminder, screen savers do not save energy. When not in use turn off televisions, radios and other entertainment equipment.

Unplug devices that use a transformer when not in use. Example; battery chargers. Whenever these devices are plugged in they consume minor amounts of energy. Many devices such as TV and DVD players still use energy when not in use. Unplug them when they won’t be used for a long period of time.

Wash only full loads of clothes. Consider using cold water instead of hot or warm. If using a dishwasher, wait until you have a full load and air dry instead of using the heating cycle.

© 2007 Steven G. Atkinson – All Rights Reserved

Technology and Energy - Use it to its Best Advantage

Energy costs are rising. One thing that we all know is that using technology also uses energy. If it doesn’t run directly off of electricity it runs off of a battery that needs to be charged.

Here are some things you can do to help save energy. Some of these are saving while using technology; others are using technology to save.

1) Charge battery operated devices such as cellphone while in your automobile. If you spend a lot of time in your car, you can use it to charge batteries. Many vehicle Cellphone chargers will charge in less time than the one used in the office powered by electric. In the office when charging adapters aren't actively in use, disconnect the electric supply to them. Even in idle these devices uses some electric.

2) Use Audio or Video conferencing instead of traveling. As gas prices rise it cost more to go to a meeting that is in another city, then it has in the past. These technologies have advanced to not only be cost effective, but also easier to use.

3) Turn off or set office equipment to power down when not in use. Turning off one computer and monitor nightly and on weekends could save up to $80 a year. It’s a good idea to set PCs, monitors, printers and copiers to use sleep mode when not in use. When leaving the computer for any length of time put it to sleep, when returning it'll only take a few extra seconds to get back to work.

4) Choose ENERGY STAR® products when upgrading or adding new equipment. These products meet federal standard for energy efficiency, and are often available at the same low cost as less efficient models.

5) Reduce lighting where possible and take advantage of natural daylight. Turning lights off or dimming them during the day allows for lower energy costs and a more comfortable environment. There is a balance to this though. In the winter the sun shining in a window can help keep heating costs down, but in the summer it could rise the cooling cost. While natural light is always good, depending on the time of year the sun shine may not be.

6) Install occupancy sensors, timers, or photocells. Inexpensive occupancy sensors can reduce lighting costs by up to 40 percent by turning off lights in unoccupied areas such as storage closets and restrooms. Timers can be used in areas that may be seldom used such as conference rooms or common area building lights. If they aren't needed after hours have a timer turn them off. Photocells are best for exterior lights that need to be on after dark.

7) Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). CFLs can last up to ten times longer and provide the same amount of light as standard incandescent bulbs, but use up to 75 percent less energy. The initial costs may be higher, but the life cost will be considerably less.

8) Replace incandescent lights in exit signs with LED fixtures. By doing so costs of these signs can be reduced by up to 95 percent.

9) By having equipment turned off or in low energy modes during periods of inactivity those items are generating less heat. Fluorescent bulbs and lamps as well as LED also generate less heat than incandescent lights. This saves on air conditioning costs.

10) Install programmable thermostats or timers to automatically control temperature settings on heating and air conditioning equipment. Adjust the thermostat down in the winter and up in the summer and shut off when not in use. A comfortable office should be at around 50% humidity with the temperature range in the summer temperature at 73-79 degrees and winter at 68-75. Even a few degrees can significantly reduce heating and air conditioning costs.

© 2006-2007 Steven G. Atkinson – All Rights Reserved -

Doing these things may be using more gas

Gas prices are rising and everyone is wondering how they can increase the gas mileage. Some of the things that may have been true once may now actually be costing more.

It’s always been a good thing to keep your vehicle well maintained and that is still true. One of the best ways to not waste gas is to have the tires properly inflated and the engine running smoothly and clean. Don’t forget to have the brakes checked. A dragging brake not only will cause the brakes to wear out faster it will make the engine work harder and use more gas.

What might be costing, and showing little to no improvement are gimmicks. Over the years Customer Reports and the EPA has tested many products and have yet to fine any that show any significant improvement on gas mileage.

Another is the idea of when to purchase gas. Some may think that if waiting to Wednesday to get gas they have caught the downward swing of prices from one weekend to another. But the price of gas is likely to change any day of the week. However if you know that gas is on an upswing, and you know the schedule of delivery to your favorite station, it could be wise to get the gas before the delivery. The same would be true if you suspect the price may fall.

Once upon a time it may have been true that keeping the engine running for a few minutes may have saved. But with the current engineering of vehicles, whenever the engine runs more than 30 seconds without moving, you will be using more than stopping and restarting.

Two other items that have been proved to help improve gas mileage are using a cruise control and driving sensibly. Rapid stops and starts as well as exceeding the speed limit can quickly zap the mileage and therefore the wallet. By using the speed control on long trips, the vehicle runs at a constant speed if set, at the speed limit. The speed for the best gas mileage is 50-60 miles an hour.

© 2007 Steven G. Atkinson – All Rights Reserved

A One Day Gas Boycott won’t Succeed - What Will?

By now you have probably seen the email message circulating around suggesting that we all do a one-day gas boycott.

The main text of the email is:
"Do not buy gas on May 15. In April 1997, there was a 'gas out' conducted nationwide in protest of gas prices. Gasoline dropped 30 cents a gallon overnight.

There are 73,000,000-plus Americans currently on the Internet network, and the average car takes about $30 to $50 to fill up. If all users did not go to the pump on the 15th, it would take $2,292,000,000 out of the rich oil company’s pockets for just one day. So please do not go to the gas station on May 15, and let’s try to put a dent in the Middle Eastern oil industry for at least one day."

There are many items in the email that is in fact total falsehood and others that is misstating information.

There may have been a gas boycott in April of 1997, but gas prices did not drop. At the beginning of April 1997 the average gas price was 1.248 per gallon. At the end of the month it was 1.24 per gallon. Hardly any drop at all.

Consider this, if it would have dropped by 30 cents in 1997 it would have been about a 25% drop in price. At current prices that would mean for the gas price to drop the same amount it would have to drop from nearly 3 dollars a gallon to 2 dollars a gallon.

Numbers indicated in the message just don’t add up. It’s estimated that there are 200 million Internet users not 73 Million. Many of those are young people who don’t have licenses to drive or a vehicle to pump gas into. Even if each of them did have a car, it’s unlikely that they would need to add gas on that day.

If it was the 2.2 billion dollars pumped per day, a better estimate would be 1.3 billion, the total price of a gallon of gas is spread out between oil producers, pipeline operators, refiners, wholesalers, truckers, retailers and governmental taxes. The biggest chunk, about 53%, comes from the cost of crude oil most of which comes from foreign producers. It’s estimated 19% goes to taxes.

There’s also a version of the email that say; “full your car either on the day before or day after”. That in it self would make the boycott useless since the weekly consumption would remain the same.

If you feel strongly about boycotting the gas pumps that day, there’s no reason not to. But it’s not a wise idea to believe that it will make much of a difference. The best thing would be to devise a plan to cut your consumption and need on gas by 10%. That would show 30 cents a gallon decrease to you.

Following these simple items can do it even without replacing your vehicle with one with better gas mileage:

1. Don’t drive if you don’t have to. If you are close enough to your destination to walk or ride a bike. Not only will it save on use of the gas, but also you will be getting exercise.

2. Combine errands. Plan the trip before you even start. Plan the stops in the most efficient route. This not only saves money on gas, but also can save time.

3. Use the air conditioner smartly. When traveling at speeds over 40 miles an hour you actually use more fuel by having your windows open, then using the air conditioner. In Stop and Go traffic though it’s more fuel efficient to turn the air condition off and open the windows.

4. Keep the vehicle well maintained. Under inflated tires can decrease gas mileage. Many newer tires may look properly inflated, but still be under inflated. Seasonal temperature changes can also change the air pressure of the tire. You will also want to keep the other parts of the vehicle well maintained such as keeping the air filter clean and regularly changing the oil.

5. Lighten the load. Each extra 100 pounds can decrease the gas mileage by 2%. Don’t leave the golf clubs in the trunk unless you are planning on using them.

6. Don’t unnecessary idle the vehicle. A non-moving vehicle gets 0 miles to the gallon and starting a vehicle uses no more gas than one sitting idle for less than 10 seconds. The best way to warm up a vehicle is by driving it. You don’t need to have it idling to warm up, even in cold weather.

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© 2007 Steven G. Atkinson – All Rights Reserved

Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs

Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL) is an energy-efficient lighting option. The compact design allows them to be used in place of incandescent light bulbs. CFLs screw into standard sockets, and give off light that looks just like the common incandescent bulbs not the lighting we associate fluorescent lights.

CFLs are four times more efficient and last up to 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs. A 22 watt CFL has about the same light output as a 100 watt incandescent and uses much less energy.

CFLs appear to be initially more expensive, but they use 1/3 the electricity and last up to 10 times as long as incandescents. A single 18-watt CFL used in place of a 75 watt incandescent will save about 570 kWh over its lifetime. At 8 cents per kWh, that equates to a $45 savings.

CFLs can be applied almost anyplace where incandescent lights are used. They can be used in recessed fixtures, table lamps, track lighting, ceiling fixtures and porch lights. 3-way CFLs are also now available for lamps with 3-way settings.

When replacing incandescent with CFL match the lumens of light.
A 60 Watt Incandescent = 13-18 CFL Watts or 890 Lumens.
A 75 Watt Incandescent = 18-22 CFL Watts or 1210 Lumens.
A 100 Watt Incandescent = 23-28 CFL Watts or 1750 Lumens.
A 150 Watt Incandescent = 30-38 CFL Watts or 2780 Lumens.

Although household CFL bulbs may legally be disposed of with regular trash (in the US), they are categorized as household hazardous waste. CFLs should not be sent to an incinerator, which would disperse the mercury into the atmosphere. The best solution is to save spent CFLs for a community household hazardous waste collection, which would then send the bulbs to facilities capable of treating, recovering or recycling them.

© 2007 Steven G. Atkinson – All Rights Reserved

The Introduction

Everyone is dependent on energy. We maybe using it as fuel to run our vehicles and heat our homes. It probably electric in our home or business.

While there are plenty of huge drastic ways to save energy. We could trade in our large SUV for a smaller Hybrid model or sell our old uninsulated home and buy a new Green home. There are some other things we can do.

The purpose of this page is to give those common sense little things that we can be doing to help save and conserve energy.

Over the next weeks and months I will be doing research on some of those things and posting them here. Come take a look, use some of these tips and help us all save energy.

Please, if these tips are useful to you donate to help me do this project. Now I am posting these on the free blogger site, but I would like to move this to a dedicated server of its own. This cost money. It also cost me time and money some to do the research and your donation to this would be much appreciated.

Thanks you.
Steve Atkinson