Going Green Community Help

WiiDSmoker

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Sep 15, 2009
1,294
1,255
Hermitage, TN
Hi Everyone,

I'm moving into a new place this upcoming fall/winter and I'm looking to cut energy costs at every corner. I was hoping this might be a good idea to help others out on how to save money and use less energy around the house.

I don't really have much of a list as I'm still learning and would love tons of feedback.

  • Ceiling fans
  • Surge Protectors - Turn them off when not using any of the devices

What appliances do you guys recommend that are greenish? etc
 

Tomorrow

macrumors 604
Mar 2, 2008
7,151
1,317
Always a day away
  • Ceiling fans
  • Surge Protectors - Turn them off when not using any of the devices
Does a surge protector use energy on its own? :confused:

They say disconnecting things like a computer, VCR, DVD player, phone charger, anything with LED's that stay lit, a video game console, an illuminated doorbell, GFI outlets, etc. can save energy. By my estimates (and I do stuff like this for a living), you could save anywhere from $0.50-$1.00 a month, depending on how many devices you unplug and how much your utility charges you for electricity.

Of course, then you're having to go back and re-set the time on your VCR, reconfigure your DVD player, crawl back behind the furniture to plug in your phone charger, re-wire your doorknob, etc. every time you want to use them. Not worth it, IMO.

If you really want to save energy (again, I do this for a living), here are some tips:

Make sure you're living in a place with double pane, tinted, thermal break windows. Keep them closed and locked whenever you're using indoor climate control.

In warm/hot weather, keep your blinds closed and pointed downward, so sunlight can't shine in.

Replace your traditional incandescent lamps with halogen type lamps. They cost a bit less than CF's or LED's but put out more color-neutral light and still save on energy costs. And there's no Mercury or hazmat suits involved if they break. And they last longer than CF's or LED's.

Heat your house with electricity, if possible - it's more efficient than gas or fuel oil. If you're worried about the cost of energy rather than being "green," this advice might not apply - depending on where you live and utility costs.

Set your water heater at a temperature where you can run straight hot water in the shower and feel comfortable. If you have to run any cold water with it, you're heating it to an unnecessarily high temperature. For most people, 110 degrees F is plenty.

Use a dishwasher instead of washing dishes by hand. Uses more electricity, but uses MUCH less water. And make sure it's full before you run it.

Buy programmable thermostats for your heating/AC units. They're worth every penny.

Don't close doors and "seal off" rooms you don't use, like guest rooms. That actually makes your AC unit work harder.
 
Comment

WiiDSmoker

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Sep 15, 2009
1,294
1,255
Hermitage, TN
Does a surge protector use energy on its own? :confused:

They say disconnecting things like a computer, VCR, DVD player, phone charger, anything with LED's that stay lit, a video game console, an illuminated doorbell, GFI outlets, etc. can save energy. By my estimates (and I do stuff like this for a living), you could save anywhere from $0.50-$1.00 a month, depending on how many devices you unplug and how much your utility charges you for electricity.

Of course, then you're having to go back and re-set the time on your VCR, reconfigure your DVD player, crawl back behind the furniture to plug in your phone charger, re-wire your doorknob, etc. every time you want to use them. Not worth it, IMO.

If you really want to save energy (again, I do this for a living), here are some tips:

Make sure you're living in a place with double pane, tinted, thermal break windows. Keep them closed and locked whenever you're using indoor climate control.

In warm/hot weather, keep your blinds closed and pointed downward, so sunlight can't shine in.

Replace your traditional incandescent lamps with halogen type lamps. They cost a bit less than CF's or LED's but put out more color-neutral light and still save on energy costs. And there's no Mercury or hazmat suits involved if they break. And they last longer than CF's or LED's.

Heat your house with electricity, if possible - it's more efficient than gas or fuel oil. If you're worried about the cost of energy rather than being "green," this advice might not apply - depending on where you live and utility costs.

Set your water heater at a temperature where you can run straight hot water in the shower and feel comfortable. If you have to run any cold water with it, you're heating it to an unnecessarily high temperature. For most people, 110 degrees F is plenty.

Use a dishwasher instead of washing dishes by hand. Uses more electricity, but uses MUCH less water. And make sure it's full before you run it.

Buy programmable thermostats for your heating/AC units. They're worth every penny.

Don't close doors and "seal off" rooms you don't use, like guest rooms. That actually makes your AC unit work harder.
Awesome info! :D
 
Comment

iJohnHenry

macrumors P6
Mar 22, 2008
16,532
17
On tenterhooks
Does a surge protector use energy on its own? :confused:
Just the little "ON" LED light, I think.

Ceiling fans should move the air up in Summer and down in Winter.

Mine is on low, above me, right now, with my A/C on.

Gonna be a scorcher here, and I get the morning Sun. All blinds are closed, natch. ;)
 
Comment

Shrink

macrumors G3
Feb 26, 2011
8,931
1,604
New England, USA
Does a surge protector use energy on its own? :confused:

They say disconnecting things like a computer, VCR, DVD player, phone charger, anything with LED's that stay lit, a video game console, an illuminated doorbell, GFI outlets, etc. can save energy. By my estimates (and I do stuff like this for a living), you could save anywhere from $0.50-$1.00 a month, depending on how many devices you unplug and how much your utility charges you for electricity.

Of course, then you're having to go back and re-set the time on your VCR, reconfigure your DVD player, crawl back behind the furniture to plug in your phone charger, re-wire your doorknob, etc. every time you want to use them. Not worth it, IMO.

If you really want to save energy (again, I do this for a living), here are some tips:

Make sure you're living in a place with double pane, tinted, thermal break windows. Keep them closed and locked whenever you're using indoor climate control.

In warm/hot weather, keep your blinds closed and pointed downward, so sunlight can't shine in.

Replace your traditional incandescent lamps with halogen type lamps. They cost a bit less than CF's or LED's but put out more color-neutral light and still save on energy costs. And there's no Mercury or hazmat suits involved if they break. And they last longer than CF's or LED's.

Heat your house with electricity, if possible - it's more efficient than gas or fuel oil. If you're worried about the cost of energy rather than being "green," this advice might not apply - depending on where you live and utility costs.

Set your water heater at a temperature where you can run straight hot water in the shower and feel comfortable. If you have to run any cold water with it, you're heating it to an unnecessarily high temperature. For most people, 110 degrees F is plenty.

Use a dishwasher instead of washing dishes by hand. Uses more electricity, but uses MUCH less water. And make sure it's full before you run it.

Buy programmable thermostats for your heating/AC units. They're worth every penny.

Don't close doors and "seal off" rooms you don't use, like guest rooms. That actually makes your AC unit work harder.
Fantastic post!

The suggestion about not closing off rooms is very interesting. It's somewhat counterintuitive - but as you "do it for a living", I accept it as useful information.

A question about using halogen lamps. If one used halogen for all their lighting, would the heat produced by the halogen lamps (which, if I understand correctly, is significant) appreciably increase the need for A/C in warm weather?
 
Comment

iJohnHenry

macrumors P6
Mar 22, 2008
16,532
17
On tenterhooks
The suggestion about not closing off rooms is very interesting. It's somewhat counterintuitive - but as you "do it for a living", I accept it as useful information.
I think that might only apply to whole-home A/C's.

I have an 8,000 BTU window unit, that does my living/dining, kitchen and bath.

My bedroom and spare room are closed during the day, but their windows are open.

It's 80 in here right now, but dry, and I have shorts and a T on.

This is good, for me.
 
Comment

Shrink

macrumors G3
Feb 26, 2011
8,931
1,604
New England, USA
I think that might only apply to whole-home A/C's.

I have an 8,000 BTU window unit, that does my living/dining, kitchen and bath.

My bedroom and spare room are closed during the day, but their windows are open.

It's 80 in here right now, but dry, and I have shorts and a T on.

This is good, for me.
My guess is that you are right - it only applies to whole-home central A/C, which is what i have. I didn't consider it in terms of individual room units. I wonder if Tomorrow might comment (Tomorrow is off-line as I write this).
 
Comment

Tomorrow

macrumors 604
Mar 2, 2008
7,151
1,317
Always a day away
The suggestion about not closing off rooms is very interesting. It's somewhat counterintuitive - but as you "do it for a living", I accept it as useful information.
It increases the temperature of the room. Since that (now warmer) room is separated from the rest of the house by a non-insulated wall, it results in a net heat gain for the space you're trying to keep cool.

Better to keep the entire house cool, within the building envelope (meaning the walls, windows, and roof which are insulated).

A question about using halogen lamps. If one used halogen for all their lighting, would the heat produced by the halogen lamps (which, if I understand correctly, is significant) appreciably increase the need for A/C in warm weather?
It wouldn't make much difference.

An incandescent light typically converts about 5-8% of its energy into light, and the rest into heat. It's often used as a baseline when we say something about how much light is put out by a XX Watt bulb.

A fluorescent light typically converts 15-20% of its energy into light, the rest into heat - so it's possible to get the same amount of light as a 50 W incandescent from a 32 W fluorescent tube, with roughly the same heat output. Compact fluorescents are only slightly less efficient.

Halogen lights also convert about 15-20% of energy into light, so the light and heat output is comparable to a fluorescent, but with two major differences - one, the halogen doesn't use a ballast, so the only way for the bulb to fail is for the actual element inside the bulb to break; and two, they're dimmable. In addition, halogen lights are full-spectrum (meaning if you ran the light through a prism, the entire visible spectrum would be there), while fluorescents and CF's only put out discrete wavelengths of light, the sum of which may or may not appear vaguely white-ish.

I think that might only apply to whole-home A/C's.
True. If you have window units or ductless units serving each room, you'll need to open/close doors as you see fit to stay comfortable, but generally open doors will do more to keep the whole house comfortable.
 
Comment

iJohnHenry

macrumors P6
Mar 22, 2008
16,532
17
On tenterhooks
True. If you have window units or ductless units serving each room, you'll need to open/close doors as you see fit to stay comfortable, but generally open doors will do more to keep the whole house comfortable.
In a two bed-room condo, made of concrete.

I usually open everything back up well before bed, to let the closed-off rooms cool.

Tonight, I'm not so sure. Might be crashing on my couch in the living room. :eek:
 
Comment

gramirez2012

macrumors 6502a
Jun 21, 2010
663
12
Chicago, USA
A question about using halogen lamps. If one used halogen for all their lighting, would the heat produced by the halogen lamps (which, if I understand correctly, is significant) appreciably increase the need for A/C in warm weather?
Absolutely. We are in the process of changing out recessed halogen lights in our basement for LED's. Many times we would have to sit in the dark during the summer because the halogens created an insane amount of heat.

During the winter, though, the heat produced by halogens would be beneficial.
 
Comment

Daffodil

macrumors 6502
Jun 7, 2011
329
1
In a sunny state of mind
Ooh! This is an interesting thread! Will definitely pay attention.

It might be cool to expand the scope beyond just cutting energy costs to stuff average people can do to live greener lives overall...
 
Comment

Rodimus Prime

macrumors G4
Oct 9, 2006
10,136
4
Does a surge protector use energy on its own? :confused:

They say disconnecting things like a computer, VCR, DVD player, phone charger, anything with LED's that stay lit, a video game console, an illuminated doorbell, GFI outlets, etc. can save energy. By my estimates (and I do stuff like this for a living), you could save anywhere from $0.50-$1.00 a month, depending on how many devices you unplug and how much your utility charges you for electricity.

Of course, then you're having to go back and re-set the time on your VCR, reconfigure your DVD player, crawl back behind the furniture to plug in your phone charger, re-wire your doorknob, etc. every time you want to use them. Not worth it, IMO.

If you really want to save energy (again, I do this for a living), here are some tips:

Make sure you're living in a place with double pane, tinted, thermal break windows. Keep them closed and locked whenever you're using indoor climate control.

In warm/hot weather, keep your blinds closed and pointed downward, so sunlight can't shine in.

Replace your traditional incandescent lamps with halogen type lamps. They cost a bit less than CF's or LED's but put out more color-neutral light and still save on energy costs. And there's no Mercury or hazmat suits involved if they break. And they last longer than CF's or LED's.

Heat your house with electricity, if possible - it's more efficient than gas or fuel oil. If you're worried about the cost of energy rather than being "green," this advice might not apply - depending on where you live and utility costs.

Set your water heater at a temperature where you can run straight hot water in the shower and feel comfortable. If you have to run any cold water with it, you're heating it to an unnecessarily high temperature. For most people, 110 degrees F is plenty.

Use a dishwasher instead of washing dishes by hand. Uses more electricity, but uses MUCH less water. And make sure it's full before you run it.

Buy programmable thermostats for your heating/AC units. They're worth every penny.

Don't close doors and "seal off" rooms you don't use, like guest rooms. That actually makes your AC unit work harder.

I would disagree on heating with electricity over natural gas. A modern Natural gas furnish is around 80-90% efficent (80-90% of the heat from burning the gas goes to heat the home) compared to electricity heat were it is around 60% when you account for power generation which for most of the country is fossil fuel.
Really the best way in terms of green I would say is use a heat pump. For heating 1kJ of power usage = 3kJ of heat for house. Just make sure you have a supplemental system to kick on when it gets really cold as heat movers start sucking when the detla gets to big.

As for going greener biggest way is with the thermistate. Have it run a few degrees warmer in the summer and few degrees colder in the winter.

If you are using electric heat use a space heater in the winter. I know for me in my apartment I would let the entire thing at night get down to 55ish but my bed room I would have it kept to around 65 and would up it a bit more in the morning while I took my shower so when I finished getting reading in the morning I was not freezing my ass off. I REALLY hate the cold. I have trouble sleeping if it gets to cold so I try to keep my bed room warm.
In the summer I am fine with my place being 80 degrees which some people would complain at how warm it was but for me it was great. I honestly liked it.
 
Comment

Tomorrow

macrumors 604
Mar 2, 2008
7,151
1,317
Always a day away
I would disagree on heating with electricity over natural gas. A modern Natural gas furnish is around 80-90% efficent (80-90% of the heat from burning the gas goes to heat the home) compared to electricity heat were it is around 60% when you account for power generation which for most of the country is fossil fuel.
Fossil fuel power generation is more efficient than that, and electric heat is 100% efficient. Also, you need to figure in the power and resources used to harvest and transport the natural gas if you're going to count greenhouse emissions from electricity.

Really the best way in terms of green I would say is use a heat pump. For heating 1kJ of power usage = 3kJ of heat for house.
The COP of a heat pump is variable, and hence misleading. They're incredibly effective (COP=3, as you suggest) when it's about 70 degrees outside. The COP drops dramatically as the outside temperature drops, and below about 40 degrees they're ineffective - at that point, you need electrical resistance heating.

If you are using electric heat use a space heater in the winter.
I can't endorse these. Way, way too many houses burn down because of these.
 
Comment

Rodimus Prime

macrumors G4
Oct 9, 2006
10,136
4
Fossil fuel power generation is more efficient than that, and electric heat is 100% efficient. Also, you need to figure in the power and resources used to harvest and transport the natural gas if you're going to count greenhouse emissions from electricity.
I put it at the resourse getting to the plant or your house would be the same. (Nature gas is it is pipe line) but it is easier to create heat for a home than it is to create heat to power a steam turbine.

Hence the reason that green house wise depending on were you get your power natural gas heating is better than electric.
For example where I live power generation is natural gas. Heating the home with natural gas is better for the environment since there is going to be less waste compared to lower effeminacy of power generation, plus transmission
 
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iJohnHenry

macrumors P6
Mar 22, 2008
16,532
17
On tenterhooks
The problems with an air-source heat pump can be solved with a ground-source one.

Around here, the median temperature of the ground below 6' is about 55ºF.

There is always some warm or cool to be wrung out of it. ;)
 
Comment

WiiDSmoker

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Sep 15, 2009
1,294
1,255
Hermitage, TN
I've started turning off my water heater while I go to work and simply only turn it on about 30 minutes before taking a shower and then immediately turn it off. Is this helping any or useless?
 
Comment

Tomorrow

macrumors 604
Mar 2, 2008
7,151
1,317
Always a day away
I've started turning off my water heater while I go to work and simply only turn it on about 30 minutes before taking a shower and then immediately turn it off. Is this helping any or useless?
You're not saving anything. It takes a lot of energy to heat a tank of water after letting it cool down. Just set it at a sensible temperature and leave it alone.

I change the temperature of ours twice a year - I turn it up in the winter and down in the summer.
 
Comment

Macky-Mac

macrumors 68030
May 18, 2004
2,607
1,207
Set your water heater at a temperature where you can run straight hot water in the shower and feel comfortable. If you have to run any cold water with it, you're heating it to an unnecessarily high temperature. For most people, 110 degrees F is plenty.
a follow up on water temperature......is 110 going to be hot enough for things like the dishwasher and laundry machines?
 
Comment

Tomorrow

macrumors 604
Mar 2, 2008
7,151
1,317
Always a day away
a follow up on water temperature......is 110 going to be hot enough for things like the dishwasher and laundry machines?
Yes. The dishwasher heats its water, so it's not really an issue there. The clothes can be washed in just about any temperature, but 110° vs. 120° isn't going to amount to much.
 
Comment

Rodimus Prime

macrumors G4
Oct 9, 2006
10,136
4
a follow up on water temperature......is 110 going to be hot enough for things like the dishwasher and laundry machines?
dishwasher heats is own water so not a real issue there. Washing machine might be more of an issue since it would want it to come in at 140.
The other location you would have an issue is if you are hand washing in a sink is you can not get the temp up high enough but a good green solution to that is have a instant hot water heater under the sink that can crank the water up to 140+ with out an issue.

Really I think the best in terms of green is use a tankless hot water heater as it only turns on when you need hot water. Nothing wasted just keeping the water hot.
 
Comment

Macky-Mac

macrumors 68030
May 18, 2004
2,607
1,207
Yes. The dishwasher heats its water, so it's not really an issue there. The clothes can be washed in just about any temperature, but 110° vs. 120° isn't going to amount to much.
...The other location you would have an issue is if you are hand washing in a sink is you can not get the temp up high enough but a good green solution to that is have a instant hot water heater under the sink that can crank the water up to 140+ with out an issue....
as there isn't a dishwasher in my rented apartment, the dishes are done by hand.....is a lower water temperature acceptable then? Is soaking them in soapy water of around 110º an acceptable approach? or is hotter water really needed for hand washing dishes?
 
Comment

Rodimus Prime

macrumors G4
Oct 9, 2006
10,136
4
as there isn't a dishwasher in my rented apartment, the dishes are done by hand.....is a lower water temperature acceptable then? Is soaking them in soapy water of around 110º an acceptable approach? or is hotter water really needed for hand washing dishes?
you might want it hotter then at the standard temp. Also if it is like a lot of apartments Hot water heaters I have seen you can not adjust the temp of the hot water heater any how so it is a non issue. All you can do is turn it off.

You could install an instant hot water heater under you sink if you have the know how. not hard to hook everything up but if you do not sure how to do then do not bother. Not enough saving there any how.

Biggest savings is going to be from your setting your temp in your apartment.
 
Comment

Tomorrow

macrumors 604
Mar 2, 2008
7,151
1,317
Always a day away
Per health codes, there are two ways to sanitize dishes: chemically (soap), or with water at or above 180˚. You won't find a residential water heater capable of that, and you'd burn the **** out of your skin if you came into contact with it.

Seriously, just wash the dishes normally. If they look clean, they're clean.
 
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