The average American household spends about $1,900 annually on energy and also creates more than 26,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per year. Collectively, residential energy use accounts for about 20 percent of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. We suggest you allow ETI to automate your audio/video systems, lighting, shades, drapes, climate control systems, and pool/spa controls to help significantly reduce your carbon footprint. Here are some other tips we suggest (we can automate these procedures to save you even more money):
- Lower your thermostat a few degrees in the winter. An ideal temperature for a home is 68 degrees. If you leave the house for a prolonged period of time in the winter, turn the thermostat down more. This can save you between $10 and $30 per month on your heating bill. By turning your thermostat down 10 to 15 degrees for 8 hours, you can save about 5 to 15% a year on heating bills. If you have an air-conditioning system, turn your thermostat up in summer (78 degrees when you’re home, 85 when you’re not). These can save up to $115 annually on your energy bills.
- Close your curtains or window shades during the night to keep in heat and open them during the day to let the sun warm your room and reduce heating needs. In the winter, opening curtains and shades in the day can let in sunshine and heat up your home. Closing curtains at night will prevent some heat from escaping and will reduce the chill from windows. In the summer, keep curtains and shades closed in the day to prevent unnecessary heat gain (especially if you are not at home).
- Replace your incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) or LED Bulbs. CFLs will save you up to 75% of lighting costs and will save the environment from approximately 1,300 pounds of carbon dioxide over the course of its lifetime. This is because CFLs use one-quarter to one-third as much electricity as incandescent bulbs and last up to ten times longer.
- Turn off lights when you leave a room. Turn off lights that you don’t need (for example, if you are sitting at a desk reading, use a desk lamp instead of the overhead light).
- Use Light Timers. (Is there a better name for these?) You can use timers for more than just lights. Plug all of your cell phone chargers into one timer and set it to turn off when you’re not at home. Set your TV, sound system, DVD, etc. to turn off late at night when no one’s using them.
- Get an energy audit. Hire someone to come find the “weak spots” in your home and figure out how to improve them to save energy and save money on your energy bills. Try RESNET to locate a rater (NHER if you’re in the UK) or U.S. Department of Energy for instructions on how to perform a DIY energy audit.
TV’s, audio/video components, remote controls, computers, cell phones, game players — we upgrade and toss out the old ones fast. But these gadgets can’t go into the garbage because they’re filled with toxic materials. In order to help save the environment ETI is listing 8 different options below on how to recycle your audio/video equipment.
- Get ready for the digital TV transition. Find the cheapest, greenest, and easiest options to keep watching TV when stations switch over to digital this year. Don’t send your old TV to the landfill. Old televisions contain significant amounts of lead and other toxic chemicals that can leach into soil and ground water. Plus, the sheer number of potentially obsolete TVs (approximately 22 million if owners decide to upgrade to new TVs) could overwhelm landfills. Here are some better options: Find a new home for it. Check to see if your favorite charitable organization is still taking analog TVs. (They might be more willing to accept one if you donate an accompanying converter box.) Or find someone who wants it through your local reuse group. The next best option: Recycle it. You’ll want to find a responsible recycler so that your old TV isn’t shipped overseas. Search Earth911’s comprehensive database. Visit the Electronics Manufacturers Recycling Management Company website to find out where you can drop your TV off for free. If you’re buying a new TV, ask if the retailer or manufacturer will recycle your old TV. Best Buy and Sony, for example, will take away your old TV when you have a new one delivered.
- Greening your electronics. Learn to buy green, extend the life of your products, and recycle carefully. Some companies (and therefore their products) are greener than others. Look for systems that have reduced levels of lead, cadmium, and mercury. Look for companies that are compliant with the EU directive called Restriction on Hazardous Substances (RoHS).
- Recycling an old iPod. Give your old iPod back to Apple or recycle it for cash, among other options, and you can move on to the next song with a clear conscience.
- E-cycling at a store near you. Retailers may not always make it obvious, but more and more of them will take back computers, iPods, mobile phones, TVs, refrigerators, and more — even batteries.
- Recycling by mail. Get rid of your old electronic junk — free, fast, and easy, with the help of the USPS. The U.S. Postal Service recently decided that it’s going to house a new kind of recycling center. It has teamed up with CORE Recycling Concepts (part of Clover Technologies) by placing free mailers in over 1,500 post offices. The Postal Service is asking people to put their electronic “trash” into these mailers. The post office then pays shipping to Clover’s sorting centers. Once there, the items are sorted, and then either sold to companies that can use them or recycled.
- Recycle that old TV. When you upgrade to a new flat-panel HDTV, make sure your old set doesn’t pollute the planet. Check out http://earth911.com for database of recycling, disposal, and donation alternatives.
- Turn junk cell phones into cash. There are hundreds of millions of unused cell phones sitting in junk drawers and glove compartments in America alone. Visit www.cellforcash.com/index.asp. Turn it in to the manufacturer or donate it to charity.
- Turn all your old gadgets into cash in time for the holidays. Free online service makes it easy to trade-in all of your unwanted devices for cash, an Amazon.com gift card, PayPal money, or a charitable donation at http://www.flipswap.com and http://www.gazelle.com.