Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Saving $ on Power and Saving the Earth In The Bargain

IT'S EARTH DAY. First, a reminder that The Norristown Project and Dragon Boat Club will be cleaning up Riverfront Park (1 Haws Avenue) tonight from 5-7 pm. They need volunteers. A 2nd clean-up of the park is scheduled this Saturday from 12:30 to 3 pm. All ages welcome. Let's make this park ready for summer.

Last year on this date, I gave you some tips about how to save water (go to this link to read it). This year, I'm posting a few tips for saving electricity. If you do some of these things regularly, you can skip Earth Hour next year with a good conscience.

First, if your dad was like mine, we were reminded constantly to turn off lights when we leave rooms. Dad's advice still stands, and goes for more than light bulbs. Only a few appliances need electricity all the time, like your refrigerator, your heater, certain medical devices, plug-in carbon monoxide detectors, clocks, etc.

Your Wifi and most cable boxes don't have to be powered up 24/7. When you turn them back on, they may take a minute or two to connect, but you'll save a lot of money in the long run if you turn them off when no one's at home or when everyone's sleeping. I have mine on power strips with the TV and computer to make it easy. And, of course, TVs and computers ought to also be powered down overnight or when no one's at home unless you're charging a laptop or something.

Speaking of charging, don't charge phones, laptops, tablets, etc, for more than the minimum amount of time it takes to reach full charge. Not only will you save electricity, you'll protect the device from overload and your home from possible battery fires.

Stop and ask yourself if you really need the clock on your microwave. If you use it for a kitchen clock, fine. If not, hook the microwave up to an appliance-grade power strip and when you're not using it, turn the strip off. You can do this with any other appliance that pulls electricity when no one's using it. Again, make sure especially that the power is off when you're sleeping at night and if no one's home during the day.

Everyone probably knows that CFL bulbs save a significant amount of electricity, yet a lot of people won't use them because they say they don't like the glow (most CFLs now cast a light similar to soft light incandescents), or because they're afraid of them breaking around pets or children. The good news is LED light bulbs have really come down in price and they're so long lasting that you may never have to change bulbs again. They use even less electricity than CFL bulbs. Still, turn them off when no one's in the room.

Here's a link for more energy and water saving tips. Honestly, why give your power company extra money that I'm sure you have better uses for?

One last Earth Day word about power providers: Many of them now give you choices about how your electricity is produced, including sustainable sources like wind and solar. I use the Energy Co-op, which I like for several reasons. They're based in Philly, so they're local. They're a co-op as opposed to a big corporation. They have a 100% sustainable option, which I chose, so ALL of my power comes from renewable sources. And best of all, those sources are Pennsylvania's wind farms and solar power bought back from the co-op's customers who have solar panels. So I'm helping my state's economy as well as the environment.

So, this Earth Day, think about all the ways you can save money on your electric bill AND help the environment. Who needs one Earth Hour a year?

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