Washington, D.C. — On this date forty years ago, millions across the U.S. pledged to sustain a healthy planet by safeguarding our earth, air, water, and all living things. Using energy as efficiently as possible is one of the most earth-friendly actions each of us can take today and every day. In salute to Earth Day, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) offers these energy-saving tips from its Consumer Guide to Home Energy Savings, 9th edition, and “green driving” tips from greenercars.org — ACEEE’s Green Book® online.
For households, follow these top recommendations from the Consumer Guide for Home Energy Savings with an eye toward reducing summer cooling costs:
- Insulate your attic. Insulation isn’t just for cold weather. With the hot sun beating down on your roof, a lot of heat can be absorbed into and get trapped in your attic. This hot air will leak into the rest of your house if your attic isn’t properly insulated.
- Turn off or replace inefficient appliances and light bulbs. Inefficient appliances, incandescent light bulbs, and electronics not only use a lot of energy, but also give off excess heat. Installing compact fluorescent light bulbs throughout your house can shave $100 off an average home’s annual electricity bill.
- Keep the heat out. Use window shades to manage heat gain during the day and airflow at night, and consider more reflective, light-colored roofing and siding products. These measures can reduce your peak cooling demand by 10-15%.
- Increase your comfort range with fans. With fans that create breezes, you will probably be comfortable with the thermostat set at about 78°F (unless humidity is high). For each degree you are able to raise the thermostat, you will save 3–5% on air conditioning costs. Just remember that fans cool people, not rooms, so turn them off when you leave. Whole-house fans that bring in cool night-time air can "pre-cool" the house and reduce energy use during the daytime, if the daytime heat is kept out by closing the windows and shades.
More tips for what you can do today, tomorrow, and throughout the year in your household can be found at aceee.org/consumer
For drivers, top recommendations from greenercars.org for reducing the environmental impacts of your automobile use start with your choice of vehicle, but how you drive and maintain your car, truck, or van makes a difference, too.
- Avoid "jack rabbit" starts and aggressive driving. Flooring the gas pedal not only wastes gas, it leads to drastically higher pollution rates. One second of high-powered driving can produce nearly the same volume of carbon monoxide emissions as a half hour of normal driving.
- Keep your tires properly inflated. Tires should be inflated to the pressure recommended for your vehicle; this information is often printed inside the door frame or in your owner's manual. For every 3 pounds below recommended pressure, fuel economy goes down by about 1 percent. Tires can lose about 1 pound of pressure in a month, so check the air pressure regularly and always before going on a long trip or carrying heavy loads. Underinflated tires can also detract from handling, safety, and how long the tires will last.
- Get a tune-up. Whether you do it yourself or go to a mechanic, a tune-up can increase your fuel economy. Follow owner's manual guidelines. Be sure to check for worn spark plugs, dragging brakes, and low transmission fluid; have your wheels aligned and tires rotated; and replace the air filter if needed. Make sure all used vehicle fluids are recycled or disposed of safely.
- Park in the shade in summer to keep your car cool and minimize evaporation of fuel.
Find many more tips on “green driving” at greenercars.org.
The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy is an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing energy efficiency as a means of promoting economic prosperity, energy security, and environmental protection. 2010 marks ACEEE’s 30th anniversary as an organization. For information about ACEEE and its programs, publications, and conferences, visit aceee.org.