Energy Diet: Nice and easy 1st steps

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Recently, Yampa Valley Data Partners and the Northwest Colorado Energy Plan steering committee have published a Northwest Colorado Energy Diet challenge checklist that will help you take the first of many steps required to assess and take action in an Energy Diet for your home or business.

Compiling electric and natural gas or propane usage history requires you to retrieve your monthly bills from 2011 and 2012. The quantity of usage, not the cost, should be recorded on the backside of your checklist. Once you complete the record to the most recent month, enter your future usage goals. This record is the starting point for measuring the cost effectiveness of your Energy Diet actions.

The next step is to tackle some easy changes, including turning off lights when they’re not in use.

Simply reaching for the wall switch, turning off a power strip or turning off the TV when no one is present is a logical, reasonable action. Turning on the bathroom light, brushing your teeth, washing your face and turning off the bathroom light as you leave are part of your daily routine. Actions that turn into habits can be achieved by repeating the action for 30 days. The goal of the Energy Diet Challenge is to make the action of turning off all lights and power strips as much of a habit as turning off your bathroom light in your morning routine.

Turning it off also applies to other devices. A 42-inch LCD HDTV has an Energy Star wattage consumption of 100 watts per hour, but the energy is wasted if no one is watching the TV. One-hundred watts per hour does not seem like much usage, yet most busy family homes have two or three TVs on at any time. The usage then is 3,600 watts per day. Assuming a kilowatt hour costs about $0.09, the cost is about $10.20 per month. This cost can be lowered only when these devices are turned off. A quick walk around your home will help you look for the large usage devices that can be turned off. By simply turning the power switch off on all unattended electronics, you will find the potential savings will surprise you.

There are many tools that are built into Energy Star electronics that help control usage. Read your owner’s manuals to make the most of these power-usage control tools, or ask the sales person in the store where the device was purchased.

Energy reduction tips

■ Turn off lights when they’re not in use.

■ Adjust the thermostat to 78 in summer and 68 in winter.

■ Replace incandescent light bulbs with CFL or LED bulbs.

■ Lower the hot water heater temperature to 120 degrees.

■ Clean refrigerator and freezer coils.

■ Set your refrigerator to 38 degrees and freezer to 5 degrees.

■ Run the dishwasher only when it’s full.

■ Let the sun heat the house in winter, and use blinds in the summer.

■ Install motions sensors on outdoor lights.

■ Install weatherstripping on exterior doors and windows.

■ Install ceiling or circulating fans.

■ Plug electronics into a power strip, and turn off the power strip when not in use.

■ Replace or clean furnace filters monthly.

Rich Beason is a member of the Northwest Colorado Energy Plan steering committee.

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