This Take Action! page is designed for students, faculty/staff, and the community in which Danville Area Community College touches to provide sustainable practices and a source for innovation.
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Sustainability helps preserve this beauty for future generations.
On the average, Americans waste as much energy as two-thirds of the world's population consumes. That's largely the result of driving inefficient cars, using inefficient furnaces and appliances, and living and working in poorly insulated buildings.
Buy energy-efficient products
When buying new appliances or electronics, shop for the highest energy-efficiency rating. Look for a yellow and black Energy Guide label on the product. It compares the energy use for that model against similar models. New energy-efficient models may cost more initially, but have a lower operating cost over their lifetimes. The most energy-efficient models carry the Energy Star label, which identifies products that use 20-40 percent less energy than standard new products. According to the EPA, the typical American household can save about $400 per year in energy bills with products that carry the Energy Star. Did you know your refrigerator typically accounts for 20 percent of your electric bill? On the average, new refrigerators and freezers are about 75 percent more efficient than those made 30 years ago, so investing in a state-of-the-art refrigerator can cut hundreds of dollars from your electric bill during its lifetime.
Switch to compact fluorescent bulbs
Change the three bulbs you use most in your house to compact fluorescents. Each compact fluorescent bulb will keep half a ton of carbon dioxide out of the air over its lifetime. And while compact fluorescents are initially more expensive than the incandescent bulbs you're used to using, they last ten times as long and can save approximately $30 per year in electricity costs.
Set heating and cooling temperatures differently
Check thermostats in your home to make sure they are set at a level that doesn't waste energy. Get an electronic thermostat that will allow your furnace to heat the house to a lower temperature when you're sleeping and return it to a more comfortable temperature before you wake up. In the winter, set your thermostat at 68° in the daytime and 55° at night. In the summer, keep it at 78°. Remember that water heaters work most efficiently between 120° and 140°. In your refrigerator, set the temperature at about 37°and adjust the freezer to operate at about 3°. Use a thermometer to take readings and set the temperatures correctly.
Turn off the lights
Turn off lights and other electrical appliances such as televisions and radios when you're not using them. This is a no-brainer, but it's surprising how many times we forget. Install automatic timers for lights that people in your house frequently forget to flick off when leaving a room. Use dimmers where you can. Remember to turn off your computer monitors also when not in use.
Use your appliances more efficiently
The way you use an appliance can change the amount of energy it wastes. Make sure your oven gasket is tight, and resist the urge to open the oven door to peek, as each opening can reduce the oven temperature 25°. Preheat only as much as needed, and avoid placing foil on racks -- your food won't cook as quickly. Your second biggest household energy user after the fridge is the clothes dryer. Dryers kept in warm areas work more efficiently. Clear the lint filter after each load, and dry only full loads. And don't forget that hanging clothing outside in the sun and air to dry is the most energy-efficient method of all.
Check your utility's energy-efficiency incentives
Some utility companies have programs that encourage energy efficiency. Check with your utility to find out if it offers free home energy audits, cash rebates for using energy-efficient lighting and appliances, and lower electric rates for households meeting certain energy-efficiency criteria.
Weatherize your home or apartment
Drafty homes and apartments allow energy dollars to leak away. Seal and caulk around windows and doors. Make sure your home has adequate insulation. Many old homes do not have enough, especially in the attic. You can check the insulation yourself or have it done as part of an energy audit.
Choose renewable energy
Many consumers can now choose their energy supplier. If you have a choice, choose an electric utility that uses renewable power resources, such as solar, wind, low impact hydroelectric, or geothermal.
Let the sun shine in
The cheapest and most energy-efficient light and heat source is often right outside your window. On bright days, open blinds, drapes, and shutters to let the sun light your home for free. Also remember that sunlight entering a room equals passive solar heating. Even on cold winter days, sun streaming into a room can raise the temperature several degrees.