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Energy Efficiency

Introduction

            With today’s technology, people have available to them more energy efficient products and services. These products may include anything from better energy efficient light bulbs to other renewable and alternate energy sources like solar and wind power.  However, this site will be focusing on more of the small everyday energy efficient products and tactics to save energy and money.  Other renewable and alternate energy sources are a nice dream but not practical for everyday people at this point in time.  This does not mean we should give up on them, and they will be addressed. The small products are also a secondary start.  The site will also be focusing on the smaller aspects of everyday life one can do to save energy and money. These tactics are very easy and take matter of seconds a day.

 

Click on the links that interest you or scroll down to read more:

Initiative
Energy Problems and Plans to Fix it
Energy Efficiency
Energy Saving Tactics
Helpful Websites for Energy Saving Tactics
Renewable and Alternative Energy
Pennsylvania is not Alone
Pennsylvania’s Initiative
Energy Efficient Lighting
Other Energy Efficient Products and Where to Find Them
Websites about Energy Efficient Products
Why Buy Energy Efficient Products and Practice the Tactics?
Conclusion

 

Initiative

            The initiative with Project Green Lancaster is to provide Lancaster with alternative ways to use and save energy, and to help out the local economy to make it a green city.  Energy efficiency plays a big part in making this happen.  With new and innovative ways to efficiently conserve and use energy Project Green Lancaster can make a substantial impact on Lancaster’s footprint by bringing new ways to the public front. People of Lancaster must understand what problems we face, ways to help fight them, and reasons why they should participate in the initiative to help make Lancaster green.

Energy Problem and Plans to Fix it

            Pennsylvania’s problem with energy is there is a high demand for more energy everyday.  Still today with the high demand for electricity and energy there are blackouts all over the country.  This has decreased over the past few decades but has not completely gone away.  Some of these tactics, products, and even renewable and alternative energy sources can help fight blackouts that affect all of us.  To help fix this problem Pennsylvania is also implementing tougher regulations.  By the year 2021, the great state of Pennsylvania, plans to have nearly 30% of its electricity needs coming from renewable energy sources.

Energy Efficiency

            So what is energy efficiency and what does it mean?  First, energy efficiency refers to programs that are aimed at reducing the energy used by specific end-use devices and systems, typically without affecting the services provided.  Energy efficiency is not trying to make all electric factories shut down and replace them with another type of service.  Instead it is how people can use less electricity per household or building.  It starts with the consumer.  The most known ways are to turn out lights when a room is left or do not keep water running.  While these are very important and notable ideas there are so much more to keep in mind.

Energy Saving Tactics

            However, lets take a look at these everyday life style aspects of the common person.  Turning out lights when you are not in a room is a big step to saving energy.  Some people feel that they need to keep lights on when they leave their home so it appears that someone is home.  If they feel they must do this, try timers on your lights and set them to come on after dark and turn off in the early morning.  This way they are not on for an entire week or all night long.  
            Unplugging electronics and turning them off when not in use is another aspect of life one can change to save energy.  A homeowner can save money and conserve energy just by unplugging something that is not in use at the time.  A phone charger can be unplugged from an outlet if the phone is not being charged.  This will conserve energy and keep it from being used for no reason.  A homeowner does not need to go that far with a computer if they so choose.  However, it is recommended that they turn their computer off every night and when it is not in use.  One may even plug all the computer components into a plug mold strip and at night turn the strip off to save unnecessary use of energy. 

Helpful Websites for Energy Saving Tactics

            Here are some websites that may help give some ideas of how to save energy in one’s own home without spending money:

Site #1

            This website gives easy low-cost and no-cost ways to save energy.  This site gives more than just tips on energy but tips on lighting, windows, water, heating, cooling, appliances, driving and car maintenance, and much more. Here is a small list of what it provides:

  • Set your thermostat comfortably low in the winter and comfortably high in the summer. Install a programmable thermostat that is compatible with your heating and cooling system.

  • Use compact fluorescent light bulbs.

  • Air dry dishes instead of using your dishwasher's drying cycle.

  • Turn off your computer and monitor when not in use.

  • Plug home electronics, such as TVs and DVD players, into power strips; turn the power strips off when the equipment is not in use (TVs and DVDs in standby mode still use several watts of power).

  • Lower the thermostat on your hot water heater to 120° F.

To find out all that this site provides please visit www.eere.energy.gov

Site#2

            The next website brings the user simple steps to reduce energy use and costs. This site also gives the user a calculating tool to see how much the user end up saving. The site provides different sections on reducing energy in:

  • Heating and Cooling

  • Saving Water and Water-Heating Energy

  • Laundering

  • Energy Efficient Lighting

  • Refrigerating

  • Cooking

Please visit http://www.otpco.com/SaveEnergyMoney/MainSaveEnergyMoney.asp for more information.

Site #3

            Energystar is a well known company.  Its logo is plastered over many energy efficient products and appliances.  Its website is also a very useful tool to many consumers looking to save energy and money.  On the homepage there are links to their various products, ways for home improvement, options for buildings and plants, and ways to make new homes more energy efficient.

To find out more information on Energystar please visit their website homepage at http://www.energystar.gov/

Site #4

            During the summer, the need for air conditioning hits its all time high of the year.   This site gives users energy saving tips that they suggest are common sense and require no tools or out of pocket expense. This site focuses on air conditioning and little tips one can perform to save money and energy. Here are some examples of tips:

  • Clean or replace filters at least once a month

  • Dirty filters make your system work harder and run longer than necessary

  • They also encourage the buildup of mold and mildew, making cleaning more difficult

  • Shade outside air conditioning units

  • A/C units shaded by trees or other means work more efficiently and use up to 10% less electricity

  • Clean your ACs condenser/evaporator coils at the beginning of the season

  • Clean coils lower your energy costs, extend the unit’s life and provide cleaner air for you to breathe

  • The fin coils on the outside AC unit can be washed with a hose

  • Coils on inside units may be difficult to get to and may require a trained technician

  • Keep debris and high grass away from the condenser

  • These obstacles block the airflow to the unit

  • Blockage makes the condenser work harder and run longer

For more tips on saving money and energy when using you’re A/C unit please visit: http://www.austinenergy.com/Energy%20Efficiency/Tools%20and%20Tips/residential/Energy%20Efficiency%20Tips/index.htm

Site #5

            This is a fun site for the kids to go to.  It will teach them all about energy saving and different energy sources.  The Site is a very colorful and image oriented site.  It consists of the same tips as the other websites but is aimed more toward the younger audience.  Here are some topics discussed;

  • Change a Light, Change the World

  • Fight the Light!

  • Don’t Leave things Turned On

  • It’s a Matter of Degrees

  • Don’t Heat or Cool the Great Outdoors

  • In the Bedroom

  • In the Kitchen

  • Shocking News About Batteries

  • Outside The House

  • Think About What Your Family Buys

  • Other Recycling Tips

  • In Your School

Visit this site http://www.energyquest.ca.gov/saving_energy/index.html if you are interested in teaching your children about energy saving techniques.

 

Renewable Energy and Alternative Energy

            Electric factories can also implement new ideas and even some that have been around for a while but not well known.  Renewable energy is an energy source for generating electricity that is not based on fuels with limited reserves. Included are solar power, hydro-power, wind power, geothermal power, and tidal power. Solar power draws heat from the sun and converts it energy that can be used.  An example of a solar power source is a local Lancaster County dentist office.  The office has solar panels on its roof to capture energy from the sun.  While it cannot power the entire facility it does cut down on the electric bill.  Though this type of alternative energy can be expensive to purchase and set up, in the long run it can save money down the road. Wind power has been around for a long time since the windmill.  The wind turns the propellers and thus turning a turbine creating power.  Geothermal power is heat from the earth that can be used to heat homes or heat water to create steam and then turn that into another source of energy.   Last there is tidal power.  Turning tidal waves into a source of energy turning turbines like that of hydro-power and dams. 
            These may not be able to power an entire city, yet, but can certainly create power to reduce the amount of coal burned or the use of nuclear power.  Lancaster, along with most cities, allows consumers to be able to implement their own renewable source.  They create their own energy and any more energy needed will come through the electric factory.  This will keep their cost down on a monthly bill. 
            The most commonly used forms of renewable energy in Lancaster are solar and wind.  According to Pennsylvania’s DEP solar power is among the cleanest forms of renewable energy on the planet. This important resource is being used across the state of Pennsylvania.  Wind power holds an even higher position in the energy usage of Pennsylvania.  The DEP states that Pennsylvania is the leader on the east coast of the United States in wind energy production. 
            There is one more type of renewable energy that is new to Lancaster County.  Everyday residents of Lancaster County, and the world for that matter, throw away energy like they have for many years.  Trash is the new coal of the twenty first century.  Pennsylvania has its first multiple-customer, landfill gas to energy project that is located in Lancaster County.  This new energy supplier supplies energy to businesses like Advanced Food Products and L&S Sweeteners.  According to Governor Rendell, “Landfill gas emitted from decomposing garbage is a reliable and renewable fuel option that remains largely untapped at landfills across the state.”
            Some Statistics for landfill gas to energy projects from the DEP website says, it has the potential of saving “about 122,800 barrels of oil, offset the use of 250 railcars of coal, provide greenhouse gas reduction benefits equal to planting 15,600 acres of forest, remove the emissions of 11,550 cars or heat 33,900 homes.”
This project has been funded by a $235,000 Pennsylvania Energy Harvest grant.  The money from the grant was used to buy a special generator that will generate the energy and disperse it to be used by its multiple customers. 
Please for more information on this Landfill gas to energy please visit this page provided by Josh Hankins:
            The DEP of Pennsylvania is working on this information and to get it to the public.  They have studied and tested many of the renewable energy sources and energy efficient products.  The department has come up with an energy initiative for the great state of Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania focuses on the common citizen and the local businesses of the commonwealth.  They have provided ways for both to save energy and money. The initiative also addresses the local governments of Pennsylvania to help save money in the communities.

Pennsylvania is not Alone

            Hollywood and NBC, have joined the effort to make the world a greener place to live.  Lauren Zalaznick, the executive of Oxygen and Bravo networks owned by NBC, is heading the studio’s Green Council.  NBC was the first network to incorporate Green into their broadcasts.  During the NFL season in 2007, the studio where pre-game, halftime, and post game took place went green.  All studio lights were off while the studio was not on air. In fact some of the broadcast was done in the dark. 
            NBC does not stop in the broadcast studio.  Commercials are played that are messages about green products and services during green themed programming. The company also plays “Green Week,” which is 100 hours of green themed content during the Earth Day week. 
            The corporation also instills energy efficiency in the cars they provide.  Twenty five percent of their total fleet of cars are energy efficient.  They sets will also be slowly getting rid of Styrofoam cups and plates.

Pennsylvania’s Initiative

            The focus of Pennsylvania’s initiative for Local Governments is to help provide and develop an Energy Management Plan for the local communities. If they could start with the major businesses of Lancaster it will hopefully trickle down to the individual consumer.  There are two plans this initiative covers.  The first being alternative energy, to start implementing more of the other types of renewable energy throughout Lancaster and the entire state. Businesses are the prime audience that should be listening and open to solar and wind power.  While these both are very useful they can be expensive, and not always practical for homeowners.  This is where businesses and their corporate money can take place and help out.  They will in turn also get a tax deduction.  This is part of the second plan.  Financial incentives will be given to the businesses and local governments for whoever implements these uses of alternative energy.  Tax breaks are the main incentive that these places will receive.

Energy Efficient Lighting

            The homeowner is where this all needs to start in Lancaster county.  Most people do not know what is there for them as far as products and services.  While solar and other renewable power sources are expensive, there are other ways to just save energy.  The most common and easiest are incandescent light bulbs, energy efficient water heaters, double pane windows, water saving showerheads, energy efficient major appliances, and window shutters and insulation.  These products can be found throughout the county at local department stores such as Sears or at local home improvement stores like Lowes and The Home Depot.
            Light bulbs are probably the easiest for a homeowner to replace or use.  Most light bulbs sold are already incandescent.  These bulbs last longer and don’t use as much energy and the older original light bulb.  They do tend to be a little more expensive but in the long run end up saving the consumer on the electric bill. 
            Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen McGinty is promoting the department’s new compact fluorescent light bulb recycling campaign. These bulbs are so efficient, they can substantially reduce the amount of energy we consume, which is good for the environment. “Compact fluorescent light bulbs, or CFLs, can save consumers up to 75 percent of the energy used by traditional incandescent bulbs,” said McGinty. “If all of the households in Pennsylvania changed just one incandescent light bulb to an ENERGY STAR-qualified CFL, consumers could save $25.5 million annually on household electric bills and prevent nearly 382 millions pounds of greenhouse gas emissions each year.”
            Even though these light bulbs cost more, the energy saved and money saved on an electric bill will be noticed in just four months.  Just one CFL can save a consumer more than sixty dollars in its lifetime. CFLs also last up to 10 times longer than the traditional incandescent light bulbs.
             One problem that is found with the CFLs is that people do not know how to recycle them and are worried about incorrectly disposing them. “We should aim to make recycling a CFL as easy as it is to buy one,” said the secretary.  So in turn cities are starting to have containers to collect CFLs like any other recyclable.  More than 120 containers were purchased from Pennsylvania recycling firms. The containers will hold 100-150 bulbs,
            If compact fluorescent light bulb recycling services are not available locally, residents can recycle the bulbs at household hazardous waste collection events in their communities. The DEP will reimburse organizers 50 percent of the cost for holding collection events, where residents can safely recycle potentially hazardous wastes.

Other Energy Efficient Products and Where to Find Them

            The other real easy energy efficient product or a homeowner is the double pane or multi pane window.   The purpose of this is to let heat in easily but not let it escape that easily.  There are even places in Lancaster that are implementing these windows now.  The Lancaster City YWCA has recently installed such energy efficient windows in their downtown Lancaster building.  What can go with these new windows is to make sure you calk around the windows so that no air is coming in or leaving through cracks and spaces.  The window shutters and insulation also play a vital part in keeping in heat.  The shutters and multi paned windows together give the homeowner a better chance of keeping heat in and not escaping.  Most homes today have insulation throughout the home.  This helps in wintertime to keep in heat and keep the temperature higher than outside.   Finally within the easiest products for the homeowners to install themselves is the water saving showerhead.  These again can be found at a local hardware or local home improvement stores.  These showerheads control the amount of water leaving the showerhead.  They do not feel any different than normal showerheads even though they use about half the water. 
            As for major appliances they can be found also at local home improvement stores and some department stores.  The main use of them is to conserve energy and water.  Such appliances can include washers, dryers, water heaters, refrigerators, and dishwashers.  The washers and dishwashers include both saving water and energy.  Energy efficient water heaters heat water to a lower temperature yet still feels warm.  The refrigerators are in the same way but instead of being freezing cold they are just cold enough and keep cooler with special insulation. 

Websites about Energy Efficient Products

            The Home Depot is one of the leading home improvement stores throughout the United States.  Their website gives a link to all their energy efficient products and detailed descriptions.  Some of these appliances and products include:

  • Washers and Dryers

  • Dishwashers

  • Refridgerators

  • Toilets

  • Dehumidifiers

  • Lightbulbs

For the complete detailed lists and pictures of these products and appliances visit www.homedepot.com

            Another leading home improvement store is Lowes.  They too have on their website a link to bring the user to all of the products and appliances that are energy efficient.
        

    For more on Lowes products and prices of energy efficient appliances and products please visit: www.lowes.com

Why Buy Energy Efficient Products and Practice the Tactics?

            Why should people buy these and use these products?  Good question. These products will essentially save energy, and with energy prices hitting an all time high, it will in turn be saving the consumer lots money!  It is also better for the environment keeping harmful products of electric companies out of the air.  There is also a chance that these products and services can help the local government and economy through financial incentives. 
            Saving money is as easy as flipping a switch.  Practicing the tactics discussed will help exponentially.  Cutting back on how much electricity is used means a smaller bill every month.  So turn off lights when you leave a room, turn the computer off every night, and unplug unneeded electrical devices and appliances.  
            Electric companies make electricity by burning coal or by nuclear reaction at nuclear power plants.  Both of these power plants can be harmful to the environment and human life.  Coal burning plants release excess carbon into the air, which are bad for near by residents and the environment.  This excess carbon in the air create holes in our Ozone layer.  The nuclear power plants produce nuclear waste, which takes 10,000 years to decay over time while releasing radiation.  While these types of plants produce most of the electricity in the country, state, and county they are not the most environmentally safe.  So buying these products and services cut down on the use of these electric factories and their pollutants.
            The implementation of financial incentives by Governor Rendell were a brilliant way to get the local government and local businesses involved in making Lancaster County a go green county.  Not only for the businesses but or the average consumer.  For applying these types of energy efficient products, services, and techniques a tax break and money back to the company are awarded. As for the average consumer, tax breaks may also be rewarded for Residential Energy Efficient Property, New Homes, Vehicle, and Commercial Solar. This type of incentive makes energy efficiency, its products, services, and tactics appealing to the local governments and businesses as well as the average consumer. 

Conclusion

            Energy efficiency has and is still becoming a big part in Lancaster County’s everyday life.  Whether it is implementing renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind, or landfill gas to energy, using energy efficient products and services, just changing everyday habits to save electricity, or if someone is only in it for the money back provided by the government. These products may include anything from better energy efficient light bulbs or energy saving dryers. Renewable and alternative energy sources are out there and will someday be part of everyday life. As for the financial incentives hopefully it will convince everyone to start thinking greener, to save money.   The small everyday tactics are very easy and take just a matter of seconds a day. These all will have an affective and positive impact on Lancaster County and the footprint it leaves behind.  So lets continue to grow green and help Lancaster become a more energy efficient county to live in. 

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This site was created by Wade Stimeling(stacey.irwin@millersville.edu) who is a student at Millersville University of Pennsylvania

Last updated on April 24, 2008

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