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A Practical Guide to Household Energy Efficiency and Other Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint


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Title: A Practical Guide to Household Energy Efficiency and Other Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

A Practical Guide to Household Energy
Efficiency… and Other Ways to Reduce Your Carbon
  • Jeff Blankman
  • Co-Owner, Sunnyside Solar Energy, LLC
  • Sustainable Manufacturing Manager, McCormick
  • Jeff_Blankman_at_SunnysideSolarEnergy.com

  • Impact of home energy usage on greenhouse gas
  • Other sources of greenhouse gases
  • Measuring energy usage
  • CO2 emissions from fossil fuel consumption

Agenda (Contd)
  • Home energy efficiency
  • Lighting
  • Water Heating
  • Washing/Drying Clothes
  • Heating Cooling
  • Appliances/Electronics
  • Insulation Caulking
  • Lawn Garden
  • Home Energy Audit
  • Case Study

Agenda (Contd)
  • Further reducing your carbon footprint
  • Food Choices
  • Reducing Consumption of Stuff
  • Bottled Water
  • Junk Mail
  • Paper vs. Plastic Bags?
  • Transportation
  • Recycling
  • Renewable Energy
  • Carbon Offsets
  • Spread the Word
  • Vote!

Sources of U.S. Greenhouse Gases
  • Carbon Dioxide (CO2) 85 of total GHG emissions
  • Primarily from fossil fuel combustion, but
    changes in land use and forestry practices
  • Transportation 33 of fossil fuel combustion
  • 60 from gasoline for personal vehicles
  • Remainder from diesel fuel, jet fuel
  • Industry 28
  • 50 steam or heat for industrial processes
  • Remainder for motors, lighting
  • Residential 20
  • 72 from electricity generation
  • Remainder from natural gas, propane, or oil for
  • Commercial 18
  • 79 electricity
  • Remainder from natural gas or oil for heating

Sources of U.S. Greenhouse Gases
  • Methane
  • Produced in agriculture, landfills, natural gas
    systems, coal mining
  • Nitrous Oxide
  • Produced from biological processes in soil and
    water, fuel combustion, and waste management
  • Source US EPA Greenhouse Gas Inventory 2006
  • http//www.epa.gov/climatechange/

Measuring Electricity Usage
  • Watt the rate energy is consumed
  • Refrigerator 725 watts
  • Hair Dryer 1,200-1,800 watts
  • Water Heater 4,500 watts
  • Ceiling Fan 65-175 watts
  • Computer/Monitor 270 watts (60 or less in
    sleep mode)
  • Source US DOE Energy Efficiency and Renewable
    Energy Website (www.eere.energy.gov)

How electricity usage is measured
  • 1,000 watts 1 kilo-watt
  • Kilowatts x time kilo-watt hours
  • This is how electricity usage is measured
  • Electricity costs about .14 per kilowatt hour
  • Generation charge
  • Distribution charge
  • Example a 100 watt ceiling fan runs for 20
  • 100 watts x 20 hours / 1,000 2 kilowatt

Measuring Energy Usage and Greenhouse Gas
  • You cant improve what you dont measure
  • Your utility bill every month will show kilo-watt
    hour usage.
  • Many on-line carbon calculators available, which
    estimate personal carbon emissions based on home
    energy usage, driving, and flying
  • www.carbonify.com
  • www.sterlingplanet.com

Measuring Energy Usage and Greenhouse Gas
  • Electricity 1 kw-hr produces 1.3 lbs of CO2
    emissions (based on mix of fossil fuel and
    nuclear energy)
  • Gasoline 1 gallon produces 19.4 lbs of CO2
  • Diesel 1 gallon produces 22.2 lbs of CO2
  • Natural Gas 1 cubic foot produces .12 lbs of

Home Energy Efficiency
  • Lighting
  • Replace your incandescent light bulbs with
    compact fluorescent lights (CFLs).
  • 23 watt CFL 100 watt incandescent bulb, saving
    77 in electricity costs.
  • Life of a CFL is 10,000 hours, compared to only
    750 hours for a standard incandescent bulb.
  • Over its life, the compact fluorescent will save
    approximately 100 in electricity costs plus 6
    in replacement bulb costs. A 4-pack can be
    purchased for under 10.
  • Use daylighting, timers, and motion sensors

Home Energy Efficiency
  • Water Heating
  • Set water heater to 1200 F if this isnt
    adequate, raise 10-20 F at a time
  • Insulate water heater and all accessible hot
    water piping cold water piping at inlet
  • Install low flow showerheads. They not only save
    water, but the energy required to heat it
  • Most models use 1.6 2.0 gpm, a savings of 50
    compared to older heads
  • Cost is 10 - 15

Home Energy Efficiency
  • Washing/Drying Clothes
  • Wash full loads
  • Use cold/warm water if possible, not hot
  • Always rinse with cold water
  • Use a solar clothes dryer…

Home Energy Efficiency
  • Electric clothes dryers account for 5-10 of
    residential electricity use and also wear out
    clothes prematurely (hence, the lint filter)

Home Energy Efficiency
  • Heating Cooling
  • Turn the A/C to 780 F or higher
  • Turn the heat to 680 F or lower
  • Even changes of 20 30 F can save 10 on your
    heating or cooling costs
  • Use a ceiling fan in summer a fan will allow
    you to raise the thermostat 20 F with the same
    comfort (turn off when room is unoccupied)

Home Energy Efficiency
  • Heating Cooling (Contd)
  • Install a programmable thermostat
  • Turn down A/C while you are at work
  • Turn down heat in winter while you are at work or
  • Note this can be done manually except with heat
    pump thermostats in winter
  • Use awnings/blinds effectively
  • Block summer sun during the day
  • Block winter drafts at night, but allow sun in
    during day (passive solar heating)
  • During warm, summer days with cool nights, open
    windows in the evening and close them in the

Home Energy Efficiency
  • Appliances/Electronics
  • Energy Star (EPA DOE Program)
  • 35 product categories
  • Refrigerators, Dishwashers, Clothes Washers
  • TVs, Computers, DVD Players
  • Objective and measurable requirements for
  • Energy efficiency exceeds minimum by a given
    percentage (10 - 50)
  • Stand-by modes
  • A house with all Energy Star products would use
    30 less energy than a house with minimum
  • www.energystar.gov

Home Energy Efficiency
  • Appliances/Electronics (Contd)
  • Slay the vampires
  • Many electronics use electricity even when turned
    off, waiting in standby mode
  • Rule-of-thumb if it has a remote, it is still
    on (TVs, DVD players, stereos, cable boxes)
  • Plug home entertainment systems into a power
    strip and turn off everything at once
  • Turn off computer monitors when not in use

Home Energy Efficiency
  • Appliances/Electronics (Contd)
  • Get rid of that old refrigerator in your basement
  • If you buy a new Energy Star fridge and put the
    old one in your basement, you have increased your
    energy usage, not decreased it!
  • Older fridges use at least twice as much energy
    as newer models
  • 10 year old - 100/year
  • New Energy Star - 45/year
  • Sun Frost - 20/year

Home Energy Efficiency
  • Insulation/Caulking
  • Insulation is one of the most cost effective
    methods of saving energy
  • For Maryland, DOE recommends
  • R-49 in attics (R-30 was standard for many years)
  • R-18 in walls (R-11 was standard)
  • See http//www1.eere.energy.gov/consumer/tips/insu
    lation.htmlchart for more info
  • Older homes can have cracks equivalent to a 2 x
    2 hole in the wall

Home Energy Efficiency
  • Lawn Garden
  • Reduce your grass lawn and replace with native
  • Mowing is time consuming, requires gasoline, and
    pollutes (cars have more sophisticated pollution
  • Fertilizers are derived from natural gas and
    require energy to manufacture and transport
  • Fertilizers and pesticides run off into waterways
  • Watering is wasteful, particularly if city water
    is used
  • Native plants attract wildlife, do not require
    mowing or fertilizing, and require less water
  • Use a rain barrel to collect water for your
  • See National Wildlife Federation site for more
    info - http//www.nwf.org/backyard/

Home Energy Efficiency
  • Lawn Garden (Contd)
  • Plant deciduous trees on the south side of your
  • Trees will cool the air and shade the house in
  • In winter, when trees are dormant, sunlight will
    still pass through
  • Plant evergreen trees on the north side of your
    house to serve as a wind-break in winter

Home Energy Efficiency
  • Home Energy Audit
  • A professional can audit your home and make
    recommendations regarding heating and cooling
    systems, appliances, weatherization
  • Blower tests to detect leaks
  • Infrared systems to detect gaps in insulation
  • Maryland Home Performance program certifies
    contractors www.mdhomeperformance.org
  • TerraLogos www.terralogos.com
  • Basic inspection - 345
  • Home Inspection Plus - 495

Home Energy Efficiency
  • Case Study

Other Measures
  • Food Choices
  • Buy local, in-season, organic food
  • Food miles average item in a chain grocery
    store traveled 1,500 miles to reach shelf
  • Factory Farming fertilizer and pesticide use
    are energy intensive and produce run-off
  • Out-of-season fruits are often transported
    thousands of miles and have to be refrigerated
  • DO NOT drive 20 miles each way to a farmers
    market to buy 3 apples. Tractor trailers carry
    80,000 lbs., so even with 1,500 food miles,
    energy usage would be less if you walked to your
    local chain store

Other Measures
  • Food Choices (Contd)
  • Reduce beef consumption and eat lower on the food
  • Table below uses pasta as a baseline of 1 and
    shows impact for a nutritionally equivalent
    amount of poultry and red meat

Other Measures
  • Reducing Consumption of Stuff
  • Carbon footprint calculations focus on energy
    consumption, but the impact of manufacturing and
    shipping of the goods we purchase is also
  • You can not buy your way to a healthier planet
  • Buying products from recycled materials is less
    bad than buying non-sustainable products, but
    the best solution is not buying at all
  • Rent pressure washers, carpet steam cleaners, and
    other rarely used tools vs. buying them
  • The Story of a Cup of Coffee
  • Watch The Story of Stuff www.storyofstuff.com

Other Measures
  • Avoid Bottled Water
  • According to a 2001 report of the World Wide Fund
    for Nature, roughly 1.5 million tons of plastic
    are expended in the bottling of 89 billion liters
    of water each year.
  • Besides the plastic bottle waste, the manufacture
    and transport of these bottles to market require
    significant energy inputs
  • Standards are less stringent than for tap water
  • If a 1 liter bottle costs 2.50, that works out
    to 10/gallon more than double the price of
  • Tap water is thousands of times less expensive!!
    A thousand gallons is only a few dollars.
  • If you are concerned about the quality of tap
    water, buy a filter and you will save money and
    protect the environment

Other Measures
  • Eliminate Junk Mail
  • The average person receives 41 lbs. of junk mail
    per year, wasting paper, water, and energy
  • Contact the Direct Marketing Association (at
    to remove your name from mailing lists.
  • To stop unsolicited credit card offers, go to
  • Paper vs. Plastic?
  • Neither use re-usable shopping bags, not only
    at the food store, but at the shopping mall as

Other Measures
  • Transportation
  • Improve your gas mileage
  • Properly inflate tires
  • Keep car tuned air filter clean
  • Cruise Control
  • Drive 65 mph or slower fuel economy is
    maximized at 50-60 mph and declines at higher
  • Avoid extra weight every 100 lbs. improves
    mileage by 1-2
  • Avoid quick accelerating and braking
  • Hypermiling coasting to red lights, etc.
  • See www.fueleconomy.gov for more info

Other Measures
  • Transportation (Contd)
  • Drive Less
  • Telecommute or adjust hours to avoid congestion
  • Walk or Bike
  • Carpool
  • Mass Transit
  • Avoid or Minimize Flying
  • Direct flights when possible
  • Taking off/landing have greatest impact, so short
    flights have the highest CO2 emissions per mile
  • Trains use 70 less energy and produce 85 less
    air pollution for an equivalent distance,
    according to a U.K. study
  • One international flight can emit more CO2 per
    passenger than a year of driving a car

Other Measures
  • Recycle
  • Intuitively, people understand the value of
    recycling for preserving natural resources
  • The energy savings (and pollution reduction) are
    just as significant
  • Making an aluminum can from recycled aluminum
    takes 95 less electricity than making one from
    virgin materials
  • Recycling 25 cans saves the energy equivalent of
    a gallon of gas
  • Recycling 1 ton of newspaper saves 4,100 kw-hrs
  • See http//www.recycling-revolution.com/recycling-

Other Measures
  • Renewable Energy

Other Measures
  • Renewable Energy
  • Solar
  • Clean, fuel-free, abundant
  • Billion year supply vs. decades for oil/natural
    gas, 200 years for coal
  • Limited by cost, possible site restrictions (not
    south facing, shady)
  • Rebates available in Maryland to cover well over
    50 of a systems costs. Howard Harford County
    have separate property tax credits.
  • See www.SunnysideSolarEnergy.com for more info
  • Wind
  • Wind turbines are not feasible in MD, except in
    select areas such as State Forests in western MD
    or on the coast
  • Wind power is available to MD consumers. Each
    kw-hr of electricity purchased has been supplied
    to the electrical grid by a wind farm.
  • Washington Gas Electric sells 50 100 wind
    options, which is coordinated through BGE -

Other Measures
  • Carbon Offsets (Green Tags)
  • Contributions to renewable energy, energy
    efficiency, or reforestation projects to offset
    CO2 emissions
  • Offset programs have their critics a person can
    drive a Hummer for a year and contribute 20 to
    an offset program and call their driving carbon
  • Look for certification programs, such as Green-e
  • Co-op America has a section on their website with
    a discussion of offsets (http//www.coopamerica.o

Other Measures
  • Spread the Word!
  • These measures can be used at work, school, your
    place of worship, or your neighbors house
  • Vote!
  • Individual actions should never be
    underestimated, but government leadership on
    these issues is also essential
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