Cooperative Living April 2024 - 23

ENERGY SENSE
Celebrating Earth Day
Taking steps to conserve makes a diff erence
by Miranda Boutelle, Contributing Columnist
E
arth Day is April 22, a time
when we celebrate this beautiful
planet that we are all lucky
to call home. During this day of
appreciation, I encourage everyone
to act at home by making changes to
conserve energy. If we all contribute,
even small adjustments and changes
to how much energy we use can have
positive impacts.
Electricity is essential to our daily
lives. It gives us opportunities to
learn, keeps us safe and comfortable,
and provides entertainment. Th e
downside is that every source of energy
generation has consequences. Fossil
fuels emit carbon. Hydropower dams
limit the passage of migrating fi sh. Even
solar panels can't be made without
mining minerals. Using less electricity
is a way to mitigate the impact
of producing the electricity
that powers our lives.
Before diving into ways to use less
energy, it's important to know the
diff erence between conservation and
energy effi ciency. Energy effi ciency
refers to equipment that uses less
energy to do the same job. For
example, Energy Star-certifi ed
refrigerators keep your food just as
fresh as standard models but use about
9% less energy to do it, according to
the U.S. Department of Energy.
Conservation is using less energy by
changing behavior and practices. For
example, adjusting your thermostat
to be closer to the temperature outside,
or turning off the lights or a ceiling fan
when you leave the room, conserves
energy.
Conservation has the best return
on investment. It's oſt en free and can
save a little or a lot - depending on
what you are changing and how drastic
of a change you make.
Even small changes, including unplugging
chargers from outlets and turning off lights,
conserve energy in your home.
Let's start with what's typically
the biggest energy user in the average
household: heating, ventilation and
air-conditioning equipment. Save
energy while you sleep by programming
your thermostat to be a few degrees
closer to the outside temperature at
night. In colder climates, add an extra
blanket or comforter to your bed to
keep you warm.
Think of ways your family can limit screen
time and connect with each other.
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Typically, the second-biggest energy
user is the water heater. Replacing an
electric storage water heater with a heat
pump/hybrid water heater is a great
example of an energy-effi cient project.
Adjusting the temperature setting to
the recommended 120 degrees and
using less hot water in your home
Before you go for a walk with your
two- or four-legged companions, adjust
the thermostat and turn off everything
possible. Unplug chargers from outlets
and turn off all electronics and lights.
conserves energy. Wash clothes in cold
water. When washing dishes, don't let
the hot water run longer than necessary.
Earth Day also lends itself to thinking
of ways we can connect with each
other and limit our screen time. Look
for electricity-free opportunities with
your family or community. I like to
unplug and get outside with friends
and family. Going for a hike, a walk,
or even just spending time in your yard
or local park is a great way to reconnect
with others and nature. Before you
head out, adjust your thermostat and
turn off everything possible. Unplug
chargers from outlets and turn off
all electronics and lights.
I am grateful for this planet we call
home. It off ers so much to sustain us.
Any small changes we can make to
benefi t the planet can add up if we all
pitch in.
*
Miranda Boutelle writes on energyeffi
ciency topics for the National Rural
Electric Cooperative Association.
April 2024 * Cooperative Living * 21
http://www.co-opliving.com

Cooperative Living April 2024

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Cooperative Living April 2024

Cooperative Living April 2024 - 1
Cooperative Living April 2024 - 2
Cooperative Living April 2024 - 3
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