BABY IT^S COLD OUTSIDE! - TIPS FOR BUTTONING UP YOUR HOME
There^s no place like home when it comes to saving money and being environmentally responsible. A lot of home energy is wasted - between 40 and 70%, say the experts. We could save roughly half of our energy costs by buying efficient appliances and taking other energy-saving measures. Here are some products to consider:
* Air-conditioner covers: If you can^t remove your room air conditioner from the window during the winter, consider covering it, both inside and out. Besides protecting your air-conditioning unit, these covers also help keep cold air from entering your home through the space around the air-conditioner, cutting heating costs.
* Caulking: Filling in the small spaces and gaps around windows and where pipes and wires enter the home reduces drafts that cut the efficiency of your heating and air-condi-tioning system. Most caulking products cost under $10; rope caulk, one of the easiest types to apply, sells for about $4 for 40 or 50 feet.
* Draft Blockers: These foam plates fit behind light switches and electrical outlets to reduce drafts that enter through those spaces. You can get a packet of 10 for about $3; they are easy to install with only a screwdriver.
* Heat Reflectors: These are thin sheets that fit behind radiators, to reflect heat away from the wall and into the room, thereby maximizing each radiator^s efficiency.
* Programmable Thermostat: These allow you to change the temperature (of both heating and air conditioning) at different times of day. Some also have a second set of settings for weekends, when people usually spend more time at home. The thermostats range from $90 to $175, but can save 12% or more on your energy bill and pay for itself within three years.
* Reflective Window Film: These are thin, plastic sheets you place directly on the inside of window panes and glass doors. The film reflects inside heat back into your home, reducing the amount that is conducted outside through windows. The film, which costs about $10 a window, is easy to put on; it adheres to the window directly, or with the help of water from a spray bottle.
* Storm Window Kits: It can be expensive to have storm windows installed throughout your house, but there is a less-expensive alternative. Storm window kits consist of plastic film or sheets to cover the window. Attaching the plastic is done with tape o r tacks. Prices range from about $3 to $10 per window.
* Weatherstripping: This includes plastic, foam, felt, or rubber strips that fit around window and door frames to create a tight seal and reduce heated and cooled air from escaping outside. Most are easy to apply, usually by way of a self-adhesive backing. Prices vary, but average about $5 per window or door.
The 10 Biggest Energy Users
1. Water heaters
4. Air conditioners
6. Clothes washers
7. Clothes dryers
9. Portable heaters
DRIVE YOURSELF GREEN
When it^s cold for you, it^s also cold for your car. And a cold car is a polluting car. Statistics show the average car trip in the U.S. is about nine miles. And it^s during those first few minutes of driving that your car uses a lot of gas and creates a lot of pollution. Why is this? Gasoline needs to be heated and turned into vapor for it to work in the engine. Needless to say, things don^t heat up as easily in a cold engine and a surprising amount of the gas never gets vaporized. That^s a waste of money - and a big source of pollution.
Here are two tips for getting off to a good, green start:
* Learn how to start your car. You^d be surprised how much fuel is wasted by needlessly pumping the gas pedal. If your car has fuel injection (most newer cars do), you usually don^t need to press the pedal at all when starting. If your car is in tune, it should start right up, even when it^s cold outside.
* Don^t warm up your car by idling. People used to warm up their cars for 5 or 10 minutes to reduce wear and tear. We now know the opposite is true: Idling a car can increase engine wear and tailpipe emissions. If your car is well-maintained, you needn^ t idle more than a few seconds before taking off. Remember: when you idle, you get zero miles per gallon!
MORE GREEN-DRIVING TIPS
Observe speed limits. The typical car uses 17% more gas when driven at 65 miles per hour than at 55 mph. At 70 mph, you use about 25% more gas. Avoid jump starts. Never put the "pedal to the metal" unless your life is in danger. Doing so can burn as much as 50% more gas than a relatively smooth start.
Accelerate smoothly and moderately. When you reach your desired speed, use just enough gas to maintain your speed. Pretend there^s a full glass of water on the seat next to you. Don^t ride your brake. You^d be surprised how many people drive with one foot on the accelerator and the other on the brake. This is unsafe, wastes gas, and prematurely wears down brake shoes. Avoid peak-period travel. Travel outside of "rush-hour."
You^ll save gas - and time. When average speeds drop from 30 mpg to 10 mpg, fuel use doubles.
"Earth Share, a federation of America^s leading non-profit environmental and conservation charities, promotes environmental education and charitable giving in workplace employee campaigns. For more tips or to find out how your workplace can help the earth, see Earth Share^s Web site at www.earthshare.org or call (800) 875-3863."