Monday, April 26, 2010

Energy Saving Tips- Miscellaneous

I think I've pretty well covered the main, and even a few of the uncommon, ways to save energy and cut costs. In this post, I'll just touch on a few things that didn't really fit anywhere else.

Sometimes, saving energy comes in unexpected ways. This year I decided to plant a (for me) very large garden. Again, my aim was to save money. Well, that and I really craved a more personal relationship with my food. Sure there's some initial expense with putting in a garden. But I figured that the produce I would grow would save us on our grocery bills. In truth it will not only save that, it will save in other ways. A considerable portion of what you pay for groceries (meat, produce, you name it) is due to fuel costs. Feed/fertilizer has to be trucked to the farm. Animals/produce have to be trucked to a processing facility. Then they have to be trucked to a distribution center, then they have to be trucked to your local store. So the price of your produce is going to rise and fall (mostly rise these days) with oil prices. So not only are you saving yourself money, you are in effect putting less CO2 and other pollutants into the atmosphere. Meat also is more environmentally expensive since crops must first be grown (with fertilizer and pesticides) in order to feed the animals, then the animals must be fed, more or less cleaned up after, they take up a lot of valuable room, and release a lot of methane into the atmosphere. Just something to think about.

In point of fact, I've always wondered why, here in America, we have things like feedlots, and why on earth we feed perfectly good human food to animals. Animals who could be foraging for food on their own in unused land, then gathered up and harvested. Basically the only expense involved would be in the initial purchase of the animal, and in processing. There would be no feeding, no innoculating for disease, no worries. Seems to be a more efficient way to raise animals. (PS I NEED that t-shirt!)

And don't forget about safety. Especially when it comes to devices that produce heat. Especially space heaters. Your space heater, should you choose to use one, should meet current safety standards, be used in an open area that allows air to circulate properly, be used on level, hard, non-flammable surfaces and at least 3 feet away from flammable items.

Keep the area around your furnace clear and clean as well- the furnace needs to "breathe" to do its job, and flammable materials stored near the furnace are a fire hazard. Ditto the water heater.

Buy smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms and keep the batteries fresh by changing twice a year. Know the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning- such as dizziness, headache, nausea, irregular breathing and confusion. One source advised "if you think you have the flu but get better when you leave the house, carbon monoxide could be the cause" (Project Energy Savers, 2008). Never leave an engine running in an attached garage- be it a car, snow blower, lawn mower- whatever! The fumes can be toxic. Don't do it even if the door is open!

For more tips and information about Project Energy Savers, visit The US Department of Energy ( and the US DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy ( also have some tips and information available.

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