At Smart Energy Today, we are passionate about partnering with families to reduce their energy consumption, make their homes more comfortable year round, and save them money while saving the planet.  We are going to share a few ways to reduce your carbon footprint and get a little greener this St. Patricks day.

1. Unplug your devices when you aren’t using them
Did you know that 12% of your homes total energy usage is attributed to your consumer electronics (CES)? Did you know that 43% of that 12% is phantom power usage? Phantom power is power being consumed while the device is not being used. You can save money and reduce your energy usage starting right now! Did you know your TV and DVR unit is one of the hungriest power hogs even when you’re not using it? In fact about half of the CES power your using is attached to your T.V.  It’s simple.  Unplug your devices when you aren’t actively using them.  Check out these stats on consumer electronic energy usage in the U.S.:

  • Use the equivalent of more than 50 large (500 megawatt) coal power plants’ worth of electricity and cause millions of tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year; and 
  • Cost their users around $20 billion per year to operate.
  • Consume as much electricity each year as 15 million US homes do.

The good news is the overall total of our CES usage has dropped from 13.2% in 2013 to about 12% in 2014, but 12% is still too much and we all need to do more. That drop in usage is attributed to two things, more energy efficient consumer electronics and awareness of phantom power usage. So do the planet and your wallet a favor and unplug your electronics.  So here’s to awareness!  Have a pint and spread the word.

2. Junk Mail is the devil in an envelope
Here’s something I bet you’ve never thought about.  The junkmail you are receiving every day is not only annoying, but creating and disposing of it generates as much carbon as 9 million cars on the road! The average American household receives about 41 pounds of junk mail a year.  We heard about a really cool organization that aims to do something about it. 41pounds.org will contact many junk mail senders and remove you from their lists.  It’ll cost you about $35 bucks for 5 years, but in our opinion that’s a great deal.  Here’s what you will be saving if you sign up for 41pounds.org:

  • Time — No credit card offers to shred or unwanted catalogs.
  • Trees — Keep 100+ million trees in forests, cooling the planet.
  • Water — Protect 28 billion gallons of clean water.
  • Climate — Junk mail produces more C02 than 9 million cars.
  • Planet — We donate to your favorite charity when you sign up.

That’s a pretty great idea, and one worth supporting.  Head over to 41pounds.org and sign up.

3. LED Lights are the undisputed energy saving champs in the lighting category.
Incandescent bulbs are going the way of the Dodo, and good riddance.  CFLs have been around a while and aren’t bad, but if you want the Ferrari of lighting it’s LED’s all the way.  CFLs take a while to warm up and will save you anywhere from 25% – 50% of your lighting cost.  LED’s on the other hand have dimming capability naturally, instant on, lasts 4x longer than CFL’s and 10x longer than incandescents, and will save you 75% of your lighting costs.  Yes, LEDs will cost you more per bulb, but they are well worth it.  Some LED bulbs can emit about 1,000,000 different color combinations and be controlled with your smart phone.  You can have Star Trek style tech right in your home and save the planet.  Win, Win!  LED’s are the logical choice. Rest in peace Mr. Nimoy.

4. Consume less and conserve more
By far the highest contributor to our energy bills is the heating and cooling of our homes.  Many of our homes have not been maintained to the level recommended by energy.gov.  It doesn’t make a lot of sense to pay a bunch of money to heat or cool your home and then watch all that money drift out of your un-caulked windows and doors or out your attic.  A couple of things you should consider right a way.  Seal and caulk your windows and door frames. A simple test to determine if you have drafty windows and door frames:

  • Turn off your lights and light a candle.
  • Hold the candle up next to your windows and doors.
  • If the candle flickers you likely have air escaping through those areas.

If you have a draft head to the local hardware store and pick up some caulking/sealing.  If you have wooden windows and door frames you definitely need to do this.  If your home is more than 10 years old you definitely need to do this.

Another thing you should consider is investing some money into your attic.  Most of the temperature transfer in your home is through the attic.  Insulation settles and compacts over time reducing it’s effectiveness. Maybe 5 years ago you had enough insulation, but most likely you aren’t up to par today.  Have one of our team members come out to your home and assess the health of your attic insulation.  We offer traditional roll insulation, blow-in insulation, and we can cap it all off with Sol-Blanket radiant barrier for the ultimate upgrade.  Whatever your needs are we are here to help you get a more comfortable and affordable home.  Here’s a handy chart from Energy.gov showing the recommended R-Value of your insulation in your area:



5. Generate your own power!
The zenith of green living is generating your own clean power.  Whether it’s wind power,  solar power or hydrogen fuel cells.  You should be making your own power as soon as you can.  Wind power is an option, but for the home owner it isn’t as practical as solar.  If you want to do wind power you will need to erect some type of turbine on your property, maintain it’s moving parts, and it will only work when it’s windy enough to drive the turbine.  Hydrogen fuel cells are awesome, but their cost and installation make them prohibitive for most home owners. Solar is what we recommend.  Solar works well in all climates.  Germany is the worlds leading solar producer and they have a predominately cloudy climate like our Pacific Northwest and solar power is still powerfully effective.  Not only does it always work during the day, it has no moving parts to maintain.  It’s highly subsidized with tax incentives and credits, and there are many financing options available. The best part about going solar is the panels can likely be installed right on your roof, which is space you aren’t using anyway.  Solar will up the resale value of your home and help it sell almost twice as fast.  Contact us today if you want to go green and go solar.