ecthompson: Once a month, Christa Wagner from the Sierra Club has agreed to post a commentary on my blog and to read one on my show. Here’s her post -
Nothing threatens the future of our planet, the security of our nation, or the health of our air, water and wildlands more than the way we produce and consume energy. It seems that everywhere you turn lately, global warming is in the news. Time Magazine devoted a whole issue to it, while Newsweek and Vanity Fair came out with cover stories. Suddenly, we’re waking up and realizing that it’s time to do something—now.
The good news is that solutions are already out there, from the personal level to a much larger political scale. So today we’ll start by looking at some simple things we can all do to make our homes and lifestyles more energy efficient.
Did you know that about 20% of all energy in the U.S. is used in the home? Here are some energy saving tips from the Sierra Club—and they won’t just lower your global warming pollution, they’ll lower your energy bills, too:
• Over half of energy costs go to heating and cooling your house. Installing weather-stripping on your doors and windows is simple and will make a big difference.
• When it’s cold out, turning the thermostat down just 5 degrees can take 10% off of your energy bill.
• When it’s hot, try using ceiling fans: they consume a fraction of the energy it takes to run an air conditioner.
• It’s a good thing to turn lights off when you leave a room, but an even better move is to buy energy-efficient light bulbs, which you can get at any hardware store. A typical family can save $60 a year by installing just 5 fluorescent energy-saving bulbs where lights are used a lot.
• 20% of home energy goes to heating water. One thing you can do is replace your water heater with an Energy Star model, which uses much less energy, or cover your existing water heater with in an insulation blanket until you’re ready to replace it. Another trick is to install a flash-water heater, which is used a lot in Europe, and can save you up to 50% . It also saves a lot of room, since they are much smaller than a conventional water heater. And the best option is a solar-heater on your roof—tax credits and energy savings mean that this technology pays for itself in just a few years.
Of course, there are many more things you can do to help make sure you’re doing your part at home. On the Sierra Club’s website, at Sierraclub.org/Coolhome you can download the “Cool Home Checklist,” which can help you see what you’re already doing right and where you’ve got room to improve. We even have a virtual tour, where you can walk through a real house with Sierra Magazine’s answer man, Mr. Green. You’ll learn how to save money, and help chip away at a threat that faces us all–global warming http://www.sierraclub.org/coolhome/.
Now, if 20% of the nation’s energy is used in the home, you may be wondering about the other 80%. In addition to Cool Homes, the Sierra Club is working with mayors across the U.S. in a “Cool Cities” campaign, where cities can take three easy steps to reduce their global warming pollution, from hybrid car fleets to green buildings to solar and wind power. Over 200 mayors all over the country have already signed up. So after you’ve done your part at home, you can use our website to contact your mayor and make sure your city is moving towards a smart energy future too. Because the solutions are already out there, and now it’s time for us to put words into action.
This has been Christa Wagner with the Sierra Club.
The full tip sheet and a virtual tour is available online at http://www.sierraclub.org/coolhome/