Georgia Magazine - October 2011 - (Page 38D)

Web exclusive W Spring is a good time for a house safety check Fundamentals can’t wait to begin tinkering around the house. Georgia’s electric cooperatives urge all ambitious home improvers to heed these guidelines: Smart strips keep energy vampires at bay A hen the last traces of winter fade away, many homeowners s children, most of us were told to turn off the TV when no one was • One of the first places to look for trouble is the roof. Watch for loose or missing shingles and leaks around flashings. Don’t begin repair work unless you’re confident of your do-it-yourself abilities. Think about calling a professional. in the room to keep from wasting energy. But with today’s televisions, turning off the set doesn’t save as much energy as you think. “Off” doesn’t really mean off anymore. Several devices inside your home • Be sure to inspect your gutters before April showers begin. If they are clogged, rainwater will overflow onto the siding of your house and could cause moisture problems. Downspouts should carry rainwater safely away from the foundation of the house. If they pour water out on the ground, it could seep into the basement. • If your exterior paint job appears healthy, but it’s just a little dirty, don’t apply a fresh coat. If all your home needs is a cleaning, wash it. • A special reminder to parents: Never leave a container of liquid unattended near a small child. This includes wading pools, scrub buckets, toilets and bathtubs. The curious youngster can lean over to play in the water or drop something in a bucket and fall in head first. are commonly referred to as “parasitic loads,” “phantom loads” or “energy vampires”—consuming electricity even when switched off. Phantom loads can be found in almost every room, but a favorite “coffin” is your entertainment center. Most TVs today slowly sip electric- ity while waiting patiently for someone to press the “on” button. They also use energy to remember channel lineups, language preferences and the time. VCRs, DVD players, DVRs and cable or satellite boxes also use energy when we think they’re turned off. Studies show that in an average ost fire departments urge homeowners to install sprinkler systems in new homes, or when they March 2011 home, 5 percent to 8 percent of electricity consumption stems from phantom loads. To put that in perspective, the average North American household consumes roughly 10,800 kilowatthours (kWh) of electricity per year. If you estimate that 6.5 percent of your total electricity consumption comes from phantom loads, the amount drained by these vampires equals about 700 kWh annually—or $70 every year. So how can you tell which remodel their existing homes. Fire spreads so quickly that you could have as little as two minutes to escape before it’s too late. A fire sprinkler system can buy you a few more minutes. When it senses a fire, the sprinkler system auto- matically sprays water on the flames. Only the sprinkler closest to the fire will spray. The National Fire Protection Association estimates that 90 percent of deaths in residential fires can be prevented by sprinklers. If you’re buying a new home, devices are OK to leave plugged in, and which need to have a wooden stake driven through their hearts? Identify plug parasites Microwave ovens and alarm clocks, which use relatively small amounts of standby power, are acceptable to leave plugged in. A digital video recorder (DVR) uses a fairly significant amount of power when turned off, but if you record programs frequently, you will want to leave it plugged in. You don’t have to worry about unplugging items with mechanical on/off switches, such as lamps, hair 38D October 2011 More online at GEORGIA MAGAZINE • Be sure patios, porches and driveways are free from cracks and holes. • Check for damage as you take down storm windows and put up screen doors and windows. • Trim broken tree limbs and prune shrubs. Remove dry leaves and debris from under porches, wooden stairs and window wells. Pick up all junk, cans and other litter. Inventory the inside • Clean off stairways and steps. Check treads, risers and carpeting and replace worn coverings. • Inspect your air-conditioning system and have repairs made now, before summer begins. Give the fireplace a thorough cleaning and close the damper. Consider calling a chimney sweep. Sprinkler systems can save lives M is installed behind your walls, similar to plumbing, and is connected to your home’s water supply. A plumber should do the installation. dryers or small kitchen appliances like toasters or mixers—they don’t draw any power when turned off. How do you slay other energy vampires? Try plugging household electronics—like personal computers, monitors, printers, speakers, stereos, DVD and video game players, and cellphone chargers—into power strips. Not only do power strips protect sensitive electronic components from power surges, but you also can quickly turn off several items at once. (Routers and modems can also be plugged into power strips, although they take longer to reactivate.) Smart strips = easy savings Power strips, however, are often choose one that has a sprinkler system. If you’re remodeling your home, add a system. The sprinkler system hidden behind entertainment centers or under desks and forgotten. A better solution may be found in smart strips. The accompanying graphic explains how they work. Your $20 investment in a smart strip can generally be recovered in less than one year, depending on the type of equipment the strips control and how often they are used. Maybe our parents asked us to turn off the TV because vampires, phantoms and parasites haunted their electric bills. These days, smart strips can chase these load monsters away from your home—and your pocketbook. —Cooperative Research Network BITS LTD

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia Magazine - October 2011

Georgia Magazine - October 2011
Picture This?
Georgia News
Calendar of Events
Georgia's Energy Outlook
Naturally Florida
Florida Destinations
2011 Reader's Choice Awards
Other Top Picks in Our Readers’ Choice Contest
Around Georgia
My Georgia
Georgia Gardens
Georgia Cooks
More Snapshot Submissions
Gardens Plant of the Month; Liberty Notes
More on Georgia’s Energy Outlook
Energy-Efficiency Tips
More Great Recipes

Georgia Magazine - October 2011