Conserving Energy

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Energy conservation is an emotive subject that touches many areas of home improvement. Although our site presents many alternative options and eco-friendly ideas, the extent to which you lead an eco-friendly life, and what measures or changes you are prepared to make, will always come down to requirements in your area and personal choice.

Energy Efficiency

Being energy efficient means assessing your home and lifestyle for opportunities where you might save resources. Although some of the measures outlined in these pages may take some effort, for most, this will be outweighed by the rewards of a more eco-friendly and cost-effective lifestyle.

Using Thermostats

Thermostats play a vital part in regulating heating and air temperature throughout your home. Make sure that water- heating thermostats are not set too high. In addition to wasting energy, this is potentially dangerous in terms of scalding. Make sure that radiators are installed with thermostats so that their temperature is kept under control.

REDUCING POWER REQUIREMENTS

The demands of modern living require power to supply appliances, provide heat, and run all the consumer items that fill our homes. However, reducing the amount of power you use may not require a major lifestyle change. You can make a huge impact simply by being a little more careful about the items you buy, being aware of their power use, and finding ways of using less power in your home.

Insulation

The best way to reduce the power requirements of your home is to ensure that it is well insulated. Even in very large houses, an attic can be insulated quickly and at relatively low cost. Some states or municipalities even subsidize insulation projects. In fact, the reduction in heating costs that result from improved home insulation far outweigh the initial expense of installation.

Right: Roof insulation -- Most houses lose a large proportion of their heat through the roof. Therefore, insulating your home’s roof space is a key measure to take.

Roof insulation -- Most houses lose a large proportion of their heat through the roof. Therefore, insulating your home’s roof space is a key measure to take.

Energy-efficient appliances

Many product lines now have standardized labeling systems that denote how energy-efficient an appliance is, how much energy it consumes, and even how much noise it makes. This labeling has made it much easier for consumers to have some control when choosing products that are more efficient and therefore “greener.”

Right: EU Energy Label: This label is a mandatory notice that is applied to all domestic appliances sold within European Union countries. It allows consumers to see clearly the efficiency and energy consumption of a product.

This label is a mandatory notice that is applied to all domestic appliances sold within European Union countries. It allows consumers to see clearly the efficiency and energy consumption of a product.
Right: US ENERGY STAR: Products with this label meet the US Department of Energy’s strict efficiency guidelines. Products with this label meet the US Department of Energy’s strict efficiency guidelines.
Right: Australian Energy Rating: A star rating from one to six stars indicates energy- efficiency levels. Products with this label meet the US Department of Energy’s strict efficiency guidelines.

How Efficient are Modern Electrical Appliances?

Electrical power is rated in watts, and all electrical appliances will carry labels stating how many watts are required for them to run. If this is not the case, they may state volts and amps, and wattage can be worked out by multiplying the volts by the amps.

The table below gives an approximate guide to the amount of electricity (in watts per hour) that is used by common household appliances. Quite simply, the higher the figure, the larger the amount of energy the appliance uses.

Important note: Please keep in mind that there is embedded energy costs of building components (e.g. appliances and the raw materials used to construct them (steel, plastic , etc)). Bottom line: Repalce your appliance only if they are very old and/or break down frequently.

Appliance
Energy used (watts per hour)
Notes
Electric clothes dryer 4,000—6,000 Very high consumption
Oven 3,000—6,000 In general, the larger the oven, the more energy it uses
Air-conditioning unit 1,000—6,000 Larger units use more energy
Electric space heater 2,000—4,000 Huge user when in constant use. Electrical storage heaters provide a more economical option
Immersion water heater 2,000—4,000 Make sure that its thermostat is working well and timing is controlled at efficient levels for household use
Fan heater 2,000—3,000 Use as a backup or emergency heating source, rather than on a daily basis
Electric tea kettle 1,500—2,500 Fast boilers use up more power
Stove 1,000—2,000 Rapid heating elements use more power
Iron 1,000—1,500 Try to limit ironing to only those items you consider essential
Computer system (PC) 1,000—1,500 Screen size in CRT monitors is important in determining power usage. Less of an issue with LCD. Choose "blank" screen as screen saver. In Wndows, use "Power" options (Advanced) to opt for hibernation mode.
Toaster 1,000—1,500 Choose one with an option to toast one slice
Dishwasher 1,000—1,500 ___ represents energy used per cycle
Hairdryer 700—1,500 Large variations in consumption are due to size differences
Microwave 500-1,500 Size is the determining factor here
Washing machine 400—1,500 ___ represents energy used per cycle
Refrigerator 500—1,000 Make sure you monitor and adjust the temperature level
Freezer 500—1,000 Defrost regularly, if necessary, to maintain efficiency
Vacuum cleaner 200—1,000 Make sure that filters are clean and it is working efficiently
Stereo system 250—750 Size of the system and speakers will affect consumption
Television 50—400 Screen size (and type: LCD, plasma, CRT, projection ,etc.) largely determines power use. Switch off completely when not in use
Video/DVD/Satellite receiver 50—400 As with televisions, switch off completely when not in use
Exhaust fan (oven) 100—200 Use will depend on size, but essential for removing fumes
Heated towel bar 100—200 Keep on a timer so it is not in constant use
Exhaust fan (bathroom) 20—200 Use a timer linked to the light switch to prevent overuse
Regular light bulb 40—1 50 The brighter they are, the more power they use
Low-energy light bulb (compact fluorescent) 10—20 More expensive than standard bulbs, but require less power for the same amount of light produced
Fluorescent tube 10—20 Provide good, even light at reduced power requirement levels compared to standard bulbs

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