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Increase Efficiency to Lower Carbon and Cost



Eco Kitchen via Flickr

When seeking ways to help the environment, lower carbon footprints start at home. The energy you use to run appliances and control the climate inside your abode has an impact on the ecosystem that, fortunately, can be reduced through some simple steps. Read on to learn a few things you can do to be a more environmentally conscious energy user.

Audit Your Castle

You can’t address problems you don’t know exist. That’s why the first thing you should do when looking for ways to increase the efficiency of your household is to get an energy audit for your home. Many local utilities offer homeowners audits at no cost. Having a professional assess your house for wasteful conditions caused by things such as bad or degraded insulation and window leaks could help you identify areas for improvement that the U.S. Department of Energy says could save you up to $600 in a year.

Homeowners who want more in-depth audits can opt to pay for a more rigorous check that usually costs between $300 and $500. The added expense covers more specific testing using specialized equipment and typically lasts several hours. Tax credits are often available as incentives for pursuing energy-efficient home improvements. Brian Castelli of the nonprofit Alliance to Save Energy points out that the cost is further justified by energy savings that could exceed 30 percent.

Pay Special Attention to Appliances

Appliances are big energy hogs that are often overlooked. Perhaps it’s because they’re designed to work without being thought about much. Whatever the reason, paying special attention to your home appliances is an important step to decreasing your carbon footprint.

Some ways to rein in appliance power consumption could include the following:

  •          Look for appliances that have been tested for energy efficiency and rated under the Energy Star program.
  •          Set your freezer’s temperature between 0 and 5 degrees Fahrenheit (-17.7 and -15 degrees Celsius) and your refrigerator’s temperature between 38 and 42 degrees Fahrenheit (3.3 and 5.5 degrees Celsius).
  •          Keep oven and refrigerator doors closed when in operation, opening them only when necessary.
  •          Check seals for refrigerators, freezers, and ovens to make sure they work properly.
  •          Use power strips that can be switched off to provide power to multiple devices that don’t need to remain on.
  •          If you’re not using a device or appliance, unplug it, especially if you won’t use it for a long period.
  •          Don’t run the dishwasher or washing machine for partial loads.
  •          Keep your dryer’s lint filter clear.

Have Your HVAC Checked

As the temperatures get hotter or colder, your resolve not to use your heat or air conditioning is likely to be tested severely. Even the notorious HVAC system can be coaxed into providing greater energy efficiency, so you can stay comfortable with minimal impact on the environment. Having heating and cooling experts check your system for proper performance and give it a tune-up could help keep it running as efficiently as possible. They may also be able to recommend more efficient options for your space that take advantage of modern advancements.

Every extra watt your home draws as a result of inefficiency puts a little more carbon into the environment. Doing your part to control your energy waste not only helps the planet, but also your wallet.


7 New Technologies That Could Radically Change Our Energy Consumption



Energy Consumption
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Syda Productions |

Most of our focus on technological development to lessen our environmental impact has been focused on cleaner, more efficient methods of generating electricity. The cost of solar energy production, for example, is slated to fall more than 75 percent between 2010 and 2020.

This is a massive step forward, and it’s good that engineers and researchers are working for even more advancements in this area. But what about technologies that reduce the amount of energy we demand in the first place?

Though it doesn’t get as much attention in the press, we’re making tremendous progress in this area, too.

New Technologies to Watch

These are some of the top emerging technologies that have the power to reduce our energy demands:

  1. Self-driving cars. Self-driving cars are still in development, but they’re already being hailed as potential ways to eliminate a number of problems on the road, including the epidemic of distracted driving ironically driven by other new technologies. However, even autonomous vehicle proponents often miss the tremendous energy savings that self-driving cars could have on the world. With a fleet of autonomous vehicles at our beck and call, consumers will spend less time driving themselves and more time carpooling, dramatically reducing overall fuel consumption once it’s fully adopted.
  2. Magnetocaloric tech. The magnetocaloric effect isn’t exactly new—it was actually discovered in 1881—but it’s only recently being studied and applied to commercial appliances. Essentially, this technology relies on changing magnetic fields to produce a cooling effect, which could be used in refrigerators and air conditioners to significantly reduce the amount of electricity required.
  3. New types of insulation. Insulation is the best asset we have to keep our homes thermoregulated; they keep cold or warm air in (depending on the season) and keep warm or cold air out (again, depending on the season). New insulation technology has the power to improve this efficiency many times over, decreasing our need for heating and cooling entirely. For example, some new automated sealing technologies can seal gaps between 0.5 inches wide and the width of a human hair.
  4. Better lights. Fluorescent bulbs were a dramatic improvement over incandescent bulbs, and LEDs were a dramatic improvement over fluorescent bulbs—but the improvements may not end there. Scientists are currently researching even better types of light bulbs, and more efficient applications of LEDs while they’re at it.
  5. Better heat pumps. Heat pumps are built to transfer heat from one location to another, and can be used to efficiently manage temperatures—keeping homes warm while requiring less energy expenditure. For example, some heat pumps are built for residential heating and cooling, while others are being used to make more efficient appliances, like dryers.
  6. The internet of things. The internet of things and “smart” devices is another development that can significantly reduce our energy demands. For example, “smart” windows may be able to respond dynamically to changing light conditions to heat or cool the house more efficiently, and “smart” refrigerators may be able to respond dynamically to new conditions. There are several reasons for this improvement. First, smart devices automate things, so it’s easier to control your energy consumption. Second, they track your consumption patterns, so it’s easier to conceptualize your impact. Third, they’re often designed with efficiency in mind from the beginning, reducing energy demands, even without the high-tech interfaces.
  7. Machine learning. Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies have the power to improve almost every other item on this list. By studying consumer patterns and recommending new strategies, or automatically controlling certain features, machine learning algorithms have the power to fundamentally change how we use energy in our homes and businesses.

Making the Investment

All technologies need time, money, and consumer acceptance to be developed. Fortunately, a growing number of consumers are becoming enthusiastic about finding new ways to reduce their energy consumption and overall environmental impact. As long as we keep making the investment, our tools to create cleaner energy and demand less energy in the first place should have a massive positive effect on our environment—and even our daily lives.

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Responsible Energy Investments Could Solve Retirement Funding Crisis




Energy Investments
Shutterstock / By Sergey Nivens |

Retiring baby-boomers are facing a retirement cliff, at the same time as mother nature unleashes her fury with devastating storms tied to the impact of global warming. There could be a unique solution to the challenges associated with climate change – investments in clean energy from retirement funds.

Financial savings play a very important role in everyone’s life and one must start planning for it as soon as possible. It’s shocking how quickly seniors can burn through their nest egg – leaving many wondering, “How long your retirement savings will last?

Let’s take a closer look at how seniors can take baby steps on the path to retiring with dignity, while helping to clean up our environment.

Tip #1: Focus & Determination

Like in other work, it is very important to focus and be determined. If retirement is around the corner, then make sure to start putting some money away for retirement. No one can ever achieve anything without dedication and focus – whether it’s saving the planet, or saving for retirement.

Tip #2: Minimize Spending

One of the most important things that you need to do is to minimize your expenditures. Reducing consumption is good for the planet too!

Tip #3: Visualize Your Goal

You can achieve more if you have a clearly defined goal in life. This about how your money can be used to better the planet – imagine cleaner air, water and a healthier environment to leave to your grandchildren.

Investing in Clean Energy

One of the hottest and most popular industries for investment today is the energy market – the trading of energy commodities. Clean energy commodities are traded alongside dirty energy supplies. You might be surprised to learn that clean energy is becoming much more competitive.

With green biz becoming more popular, it is quickly becoming a powerful tool for diversified retirement investing.

The Future of Green Biz

As far as the future is concerned, energy businesses are going to continue getting bigger and better. There are many leading energy companies in the market that already have very high stock prices, yet people are continuing to investing in them.

Green initiatives are impacting every industry. Go Green campaigns are a PR staple of every modern brand. For the energy-sector in the US, solar energy investments are considered to be the most accessible form of clean energy investment. Though investing in any energy business comes with some risks, the demand for energy isn’t going anywhere.

In conclusion, if you want to start saving for your retirement, then clean energy stocks and commodity trading are some of the best options for wallets and the planet. Investing in clean energy products, like solar power, is a more long-term investment. It’s quite stable and comes with a significant profit margin. And it’s amazing for the planet!

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