For Immediate Release: Thursday, April 21, 2011
Celebrate Earth Day by Conserving Energy
(ST. PAUL, MN) In observance of the 41st Earth Day, the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources is reminding consumers how easy it is to conserve energy and save money throughout the year.
"There are many simple and inexpensive actions consumers can take at home to help to protect and conserve natural resources," said Mike Rothman, Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Commerce, which houses the Division of Energy Resources. "On Earth Day, and every day, we all can take small, but significant steps to cut our energy use. Doing so will help to conserve energy and save the environment and our state's energy resources."
Those changes can be as easy as low cost or no cost energy-efficiency improvements that reduce household consumption of gas and electricity. More substantial improvements such as replacement of mechanical systems require a fairly large financial investment, but can often be made more affordable with rebates from utilities and federal tax credits.
Consumers hoping to make a difference this Earth Day and conserve energy for the future can take these 10 easy steps:
1. Energy audit — Get an audit that includes a blower door test and infrared scan that will provide you with a detailed evaluation of energy use, insulation levels, air leakage and performance of mechanical systems. Schedule an audit through your gas utility or the Minnesota Building Performance Association.
2. Seal air leaks — An enormous amount of energy is wasted when inside air (either heated or cooled) can escape to the outside through leaks in attics, walls, windows and doors.
3. Check mechanical systems — Water heaters, air conditioners, furnaces, gas fireplaces and ventilation systems should be regularly inspected and tuned-up to keep them operating efficiently and safely.
4. Heat efficiently — Replace old, inefficient systems with new high-efficiency options; don't use fans to move air; seal ductwork and direct airflow through registers and baffles.
5. Install a programmable thermostat — Adjusting a thermostat 1 degree (down in the winter and up in the summer) while asleep and away at work (16 hours a day), you can save 2 percent on a home fuel bill.
6. Control hot water use — A standard showerhead can use up to 5.5 gallons of water a minute. Low-flow showerheads deliver a high pressure spray at less than two gallons per minute.
7. Replace light bulbs — A compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) bulb can save $30 over the life of the bulb in energy costs. CFL bulbs are now made to fit nearly every fixture and for nearly every use.
8. Reduce use of outlet switches — Only plug devices into an outlet switch on an as-needed basis. Standby power or "phantom load" is the electricity that flows through appliances and devices when they are turned "off"- up to 40 percent of "on" for some electronic items. Instead plug items into a power strip.
9. Install timers/motion detectors — Why keep things on when they are not in use? Timers and motion detector switches can operate devices that are used infrequently or have switches that are hard to get to.
10. Buy ENERGY STAR products — ENERGY STAR products are the same or better than standard products, only they use less energy. To earn the ENERGY STAR rating, products must meet strict energy efficiency and reliability criteria set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or the U.S. Department of Energy.
Consumers and businesses can find useful information on conservation and other energy topics at www.energy.mn.gov . The Division of Energy Resources has also created an Earth Day page at http://energy.gov/earth-day where consumers can find links to calendars of Earth Day events planned throughout the state, view answers to various energy-related questions provided by our in-house energy expert, and research some energy myths too.
A part of the Minnesota Department of Commerce, the Division of Energy Resources ensures that Minnesota homes and businesses have access to energy services that are reliable, reasonably-priced, efficient, and environmentally sound.