Quick Ways You Can Save Energy

By Bridgett Shank

The diagram shows the various ways a house can generate and save energy (by George Retseck courtesy IEEE Spectrum magazine)

I attended a four-day Zero Net Energy course co-sponsored by Solar Action Alliance and PG&E. Topics ranged from Home Energy Audits for existing homes to determining the best types of fuel sources to achieve Net Zero Energy on a new home. (The illustration above depicts Denmark's Net Zero Energy Home, from IEEE Spectrum magazine). 

Here are a few facts I learned that you might find useful for saving energy in your current home without having to open up any walls or replacing your mechanical system:
  • In the market for a new appliance, LED replacement lamps, car or laptop? Check out TopTen USA for the most up to date information on which brand and model are actually achieving the highest ranks in energy and performance.



  • Refrigerators with the freezer on top or bottom, (rather than vertically along the side) are more energy efficient.
  • EnergyStar has never regulated clothes dryers. Most electric clothes dryers consume as much energy as a new fridge, washing machine, and dishwasher combined! What can you do? Gas powered clothes dryers use much less energy and innovations for electric dryers that use technology such as heat exchangers are in the works.
  • Biggest “plug load” found in your home? The TV. While TVs have made some of the biggest improvements in energy consumption reduction, they have also gotten bigger and we own more of them per household, (proving that regulation does not need to hinder sales). The preset mode you have it set in can help save energy. For example, ‘Preset Cinema’ uses less than 125 watts of energy while ‘Preset Vivid’ and the ‘Default Retail Vivid’ uses over 250 watts.
  • Idle electric loads average 36% of your electric bill. Do you often leave home and wonder if you left the lights on or the thermostat turned up. You can turn lamps and electronics off remotely, (even from your iPhone) with a simple wireless controller installed at the outlet: ByeBye Standby Wireless Remote Control Energy Saving Kit. Control your lights remotely with wireless light switches: Belkin WeMo Light Switch. Control your thermostat online: Nest Learning Thermostat and Honeywell Wi-Fi Programmable Touchscreen Thermostat.
Bridgett Shank is an architect, accredited LEED professional, and member of the Feldman firm.

Originally Published in Feldman Architecture

06/03/2014