Since its inception in 1970, Earth Day has grown to a global reminder that we humans are a large part of our planet’s ecosystem and that each of us has a role to play in keeping it healthy and sustainable. While opinions vary widely on large-scale approaches to sustainability, each of us can do our part right in our own homes, starting with how we consume energy. And since electric power generation is key to energy use, let’s look at ways you can do your part to reduce its impact on our environment.
Sources of Electric Energy
Electric energy must be created by converting other forms of power into a useable form through the use of generators that transform various types of energy into electricity. Those generators can be powered by steam, moving water, wind, and solar radiation. Steam is created by heating water with combustible materials such as coal and natural gas or by the heat produced by nuclear fission. Hydroelectric power is generated by large amounts of water turning generator turbines. Wind currents can also create enough force to power generators, and photoelectric cells can convert solar energy to electricity.
Each of these methods has its advantages and disadvantages, but none is without some environmental impact, so using electric energy efficiently reduces the need for more power generation, ultimately benefitting the environment regardless of the source.
Ways to Save Energy at Home
In colder climates, heating is usually the biggest consumer of energy. While natural gas can be more cost-effective than electric heating, many improvements in electric heating technology have allowed homeowners to save energy by allowing more precise use of energy with things like tankless water heaters and single-room electric heaters. And even if your heating is provided by gas or other combustible fuel, electronic controls offer better efficiency with those appliances.
- Ventilation and Cooling
Nearly all venting and cooling systems are powered by electricity, and in warm weather they account for a large portion of energy costs. It takes a lot of energy to cool air, so high-efficiency air conditioners, refrigerators, and freezers can reduce energy consumption dramatically. Evaporative coolers use the natural cooling properties of air and water to generate cool air without the need for energy-consuming condensers. Fans use even less energy, so using them to exhaust hot air or provide cooling breezes are environmentally-friendly ways to stay comfortable on hot summer days.
The second-largest home energy user is lighting. Traditional filament bulbs waste as much as 80% of electrical energy, giving it off as heat instead of light. While that’s not usually enough to make a difference in a cold room, it can add to the need for extra cooling in the summer.
Fluorescent lamps use less energy but they often give off poor quality light and have environmental concerns of their own, chiefly from the mercury used in them. Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) have progressed to the point that they’re available for nearly all lighting applications. They give off top-quality light, use much less energy, and last much longer than other forms of lighting. As they have gained in popularity, their costs have become competitive with other bulbs, and many utilities offer additional savings with rebate and discount programs.
And of course no light uses energy when it’s turned off, so high-tech switches—from timers and motion sensors to Wi-Fi “smart switches”—make keeping lights off when they’re not needed easier.
All of these energy-saving measures apply to offices and commercial spaces too, and many are easy and inexpensive to implement. But if you need additional switches, outlets, or other electrical work to improve your energy efficiency, the pros at Allstar Electrical Services are ready to help. We deliver the quality results you expect and deserve to ensure your new project is done right, on budget and on schedule.
Whatever your electrical needs, call Allstar Electrical at (303) 399-7420 or visit our website. Then use our handy on-line forms to request an estimate or set up an appointment. We’ve served the Front Range for over 15 years and are top-rated by the BBB and Angie’s List.