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Earth Day tips and information from OES

April 22, 2010

Earth Day tips and information from OES

For Immediate Release:  Thursday, April 22 2010

Earth Day: It's Easy to Conserve Energy

(ST. PAUL, MN) In observance of the 40th Earth Day, the Minnesota Department of Commerce's Office of Energy Security (OES) is reminding consumers how easy it is to conserve energy and save money year round.

Protecting and conserving natural resources starts at home with simple and inexpensive actions.  Consumers can also make energy-efficiency improvements that require a bit of a financial investment, but often those costs can be offset by rebates from utilities.

Here are 10 easy steps identified by OES that consumers can take to save energy:

1. Have an energy audit — A baseline audit will give consumers an evaluation of their energy use, insulation levels, air leakage and mechanical systems.
2. Seal air leaks — An enormous amount of energy is wasted when inside air (either heated or cooled) escapes 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 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. Use a programmable thermostat — Adjusting a thermostat 1 degree (down in the winter and up in the summer) for 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 gal¬lons of water a minute. New, 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. Use outlet switches — Plug things in to an outlet switch and only use them when needed.  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 things!
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 — 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.

In addition to the home energy-saving techniques listed above, consumers and businesses can find useful information on conservation and other energy topics at www.energy.mn.gov . OES 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 OES's in-house energy expert, and research some energy myths.

The Office of Energy Security (OES) ensures that Minnesota homes and businesses have access to energy services that are reliable, reasonably-priced, efficient, and environmentally sound. The division does this by advocating on behalf of the public interest in regulated-utility matters, providing financial heating assistance and energy conservation improvements to income-qualified consumers, assisting viable new energy technologies seeking to enter the commercial market, and educating end users of energy on how they can use their energy more wisely.