Conserve Energy For A Better Quality Of Life
by Roy Macklin of FB Home
When you conserve energy in your home, you can maintain or actually improve the quality of your life. To conserve energy doesn't always mean to 'cut-back.' Conservation can simply be a result of increased awareness. A small example would be to turn off the lights when you leave a room. By noticing how you use power, you can also find where you're wasting power, and change that by taking some painless and positive steps.
Electricity pours into our homes in a seemingly endless supply with no effort from us. Most people only think about electricity during black-outs, when bad weather causes an outage, or when the monthly electric bill arrives. One benefit of conservation is that your energy bill decreases and you have more money to spend on other things.
I never pay a bill for electricity because I have a stand- alone power system: sixteen solar panels, a stream generator (hydro-electric), and a little wind jenny. My family has a keen awareness of how we use energy because we literally create every watt. We don't waste power, and we maintain a high standard of living. Forget it if you've pictured solar-powered life as having a small cabin with a wood cook-stove and a couple of light bulbs.
The fact is that my house is designed for energy efficiency and uses leading edge technology for the appliances. We have all the usual equipment: dishwasher, laundry, computers, entertainment system (sound, TV, DVD), way more than two lights, and a shop full of power tools from air compressor to table saw. We can have all this with an off-grid electrical system because we practice basic conservation.
We run our household using only three kilowatts a day. That is less than the daily draw of most refrigerators. The reason our house uses so little power starts with our cooling and heating systems. These are the major energy users for most homes. If you're building a new home, you can design for energy efficiency from the start. Properly situate the house to take advantage passive solar heat and utilize overhangs plus ventilation for cooling. If you have an existing home, it can be remodeled, or it might be better to fit it for gas. Using electricity for heat is completely wasteful. After all, the heat is merely the by- product of spent electricity. A preferable alternative is gas.
The second reason we can run a modern house using so little energy has to do with appliances. As the ones you currently have come due for replacement, make their efficiency your top concern in choosing new appliances. Our refrigerator, for example, is so well designed for energy efficiency that in a 24 hour period it draws less power than a 100 watt incandescent light bulb would in 5 hours. The fridge was more expensive initially, but over time the reduced electric bill (or in our case the fewer solar panels necessary) makes it worth it.
However, be encouraged. You don't have to remodel or purchase expensive appliances to conserve power. An easy and low-cost starting place is compact fluorescent light bulbs. They give superior light using only 23 watts to a comparable incandescent 100 watt bulb. The compact fluorescents come in all styles and sizes allowing you use them for everything from overhead lights to floor lamps. The fluorescents last longer than regular bulbs, and the nicest part is that they are finally affordable. When they first came out, they cost as much as $20 apiece. Today, you can have them for $2 or $3 when you find them on sale.
Conservation saves you money, adding to your life's quality. What's also a benefit is the personal satisfaction of being conscious about how you're using energy. Earth's resources are used to create most of the electricity humans use: coal gets mined, the air gets fouled, rivers get dammed, and so on. When everyone makes some effort to conserve it adds up to a greatly reduced drain on Earth. You can make a direct impact for the better.