Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Earth Day 2012: Your Home's Impact On The Environment

In honor of Earth Day, Pro Energy Consultants would like you to take a look at how our home activities specifically waste energy and learn some ideas on how to improve our energy use.

Most families worry about the cost of energy, getting upset because they have their heat on full-blast during the winter and cannot keep their home warm, which means they have to pay more money just to get through the winter. What they don’t realize is that they’re also doing damage to the environment! That extra energy being used is creating MORE greenhouse gases. The same goes for cooling your home in the summer.

In the U.S., 20% of greenhouse gas emissions come from home energy use (Encyclopedia of Earth).
Heating and cooling your home usually consumes the most energy, more than any appliance that you may have, but this can vary based on the climate you live in. After heating and cooling, other major categories of home energy use are lighting, refrigerators and other appliances, and electronics. The same principles apply here: it’s easy to measure energy by cost, and it is much more difficult to measure energy by the waste created.

We have several tips on how to save energy written in our whitepaper on this same topic, which you can read here. However, here are a few:
  •  Do not use duct tape to seal your ducts. Instead, use water-based mastic.
  • Use motion detector light switches so you don't have to remember to turn the lights off.
  • Use sealant or caulk to fill any leaks around window or door frames.
  • Buy Energy Star appliances
  • Use power strips that cut-off energy when electronics are in stand-by mode, ending "vampire draw" or using energy when an item is off.

Want to do something good for the environment right now?? Like us on Facebook, and we'll donate $1 to the Arbor Day Foundation and their efforts to plant trees in tornado-ravaged communities.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Earth Day: Be Selfish If You Need To

I have to admit that prior to my involvement with Pro Energy Consultants, I wasn't very 'green.' We did the basics like recycling, but we weren't proactive - it simply wasn't on my radar. We did, however, have many of our clients' same home issues: a second floor that was always so hot or cold it was basically unusable certain times of year; ice damming in the winter (a fun dynamic for those of us in cold weather areas); and utility bills that I knew were outrageous. These are also the tell-tale signs of an extremely un-environmentally friendly home (although I didn't really think about that at the time).

These dynamics existed for years, and we never did anything about them. It wasn't a conscious choice to NOT do anything, but more so a feeling of being overwhelmed - "Where to start? I bet whatever the solutions are, they're expensive." - that lead to a subconscious aversion of the whole issue. Instead, we engaged in ridiculous behaviors to deal with the discomfort (running fans and heaters all the time, avoiding the second floor, pouring hot water on the ice dams, lowering or raising our thermostats even more) - behaviors that cost us additional time and aggravation, and even more money.

Then thanks to Pro Energy, I educated myself.

First, I read the statistics about home much damage an inefficient home like ours does to the environment. As a highly analytical person, the quantifiable data made it 'real' for me. Second, I read the studies about the primary sources of home energy loss and their fixes, and was surprised to learn how relatively inexpensive they typically are. Even better. Third, I learned about the connection between energy (air) flow and indoor air quality, and how my home's conditions were reducing our indoor air quality. As a mother, I was then spurred to action. I could sustain some personal discomfort, financial hardship, and even being a hazard to the environment (sad to say) - but what I couldn't tolerate was putting my child at risk.

Some people naturally 'Go Green' as a result of personal beliefs and values - and I commend those of you. We need more like you, and hopefully the rest of our society will evolve. Others, like myself, needed to come across that compelling reason to get educated, and get active.

My encouragement to you is don't think of this Earth Day as some conceptual event taking place somewhere in the world - make it yours. Doing something good for the environment does not have to mean sacrificing - it can often mean personal gain of some sort (comfort, lower bills, better indoor air). If it takes getting a little selfish and asking 'what's in it for me and my family?' to spur you to action, then do it. In the end, it's still a win-win, and our planet will still appreciate it!

Kylene Golubski
Pro Energy Consultants