Save money! Pollute less! You can dramatically improve your home's energy efficiency with these key tips.
Weatherize: Get yourself a caulking gun and some weather stripping and go to town sealing all the little air leaks around windows and doors. The Department of Energy estimates these steps will pay for themselves within one year.
Appliances: Appliances make up around 20 percent of home energy usage and the fridge sucks up much of that. Make sure your refrigerators coils are clean and that all gaskets fit tightly. Keep the temperature of your fridge at about 37 degrees and the freezer at 3 degrees for optimum energy efficiency. Don't just turn off appliances when they aren't in use‑-unplug them to keep them from using any electricity, even to keep a digital face lit.
Buy the Bulbs: Each conventional light bulb you replace with a fluorescent will save you in the neighborhood of $40 over the lifetime of the bulb. They also use about 75 percent less energy and produce about 75 percent less heat.
The Water Heater: Water heating can account for 14 to 25 percent of the energy consumed in your home. Wrap the heater in an insulating jacket to keep it from losing heat. Then turn down the temperature on the water heater as low as you can stand it. For each 10 degree reduction in temp, you'll save about 3 to 5 percent in energy to run the heater. If you can afford it, buy a new energy-efficient model you'll earn your money back over the life of the heater in energy bills.
Heat on a Timer: Installing a programmable thermostat can save up to $180 a year in energy costs. The Department of Energy recommends keeping temps during the day between 65 and 68 degrees and dropping nighttime temps to 55 degrees.
Sources: Department of Energy and Energy Star
Maybe it’s something in the water, or the upholstery of our Subaru Outbacks that makes Central Oregonians so environmentally conscious, a fact that’s readily apparent in our recycling rates (almost 45 percent of our waste is now repurposed) and our embrace of solar power. (We’re home to half a dozen installers and recently added two of the biggest solar systems in state at Bend Broadband’s data center and Facebook’s new server farm in Prineville.)
Whatever the reason, sustainability isn’t just a way of life in Bend -- it’s an industry that includes everything from small windpower producers like Redmond’s Abney Electrix to a people-powered cycle pub in Bend. This year’s Green Issue is a snapshot of how Central Oregon is putting itself on the forefront of the sustainability movement both individually and collectively. While there are dozens of interesting examples of how entrepreneurs, public agencies and private citizens are blazing a green trail, we’ve narrowed our focus to seven projects that show how Central Oregonians are putting their values into practice; examples range from a multimillion dollar community forest project to a natural soap making business. Read it, share it and then recycle it. (EF)