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Op-Ed: Eliminating ‘energy vampires’ at home

Author Brenda Reyes Tomassini is a licensed public relations practitioner and works as a public affairs specialist at EPA’s Puerto Rico office.

With energy costs increasing every day in Puerto Rico, we have to be extremely vigilant about energy vampires in our homes. As much as half of the energy used in our homes goes to heating and cooling.

In Puerto Rico, we enjoy sunny weather and hot temperatures most of the year, thus cooling our homes is very important to make ourselves comfortable. So making smart decisions about our home’s ventilation and air conditioning systems can have a big effect on our utility bills.

Here are a few tips and recommendations to keep our homes free of energy vampires and maximize our energy use:

Ceiling fans can provide comfort and help you save on your energy bills. Consider installing one in every room in your house.

Check your air conditioning filter every month. At a minimum, clean or change the filter every three months.

Need a new room air conditioner? “Energy Star”-qualified room air conditioners often include timers for better temperature control, allowing you to use the minimum amount of energy you need to cool your room. Proper sizing is very important. Make sure your air conditioning unit meets the need for the square footage of the space it will cool.

Remember to always turn off your lights when leaving a room.

Replace your highest-use fixtures with “Energy Star” models. “Energy Star”-qualified lighting provides bright, warm light while using 75 percent less energy, generating 70 percent less heat and lasting up to 10 times longer than standard lighting.

Change your regular lightbulbs with CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lights). They provide high-quality light output, use less energy and last up to 10 times longer than standard incandescent light bulbs, saving money on energy bills and replacement costs.

Use a power strip as a central “turn off” point for electronics, video games, and computers when not in use.

Consumer electronics play an increasingly large role in your home’s energy consumption, accounting for up to 15 percent of household electricity use. Look for the “Energy Star” logo on consumer electronics products. These products use less energy without sacrificing quality or performance.

Unplug any battery chargers or power adapters when not in use.

When substituting old appliances for new, always look for the “Energy Star” label.

If your current refrigerator was made before 1993, it uses twice the amount of energy used by new models, which use at least 20 percent less energy. In fact, a new “Energy Star” qualified refrigerator uses less energy than a 60-watt light bulb continuously lit.

Electric Range
Substitute your electric range for a gas range. If you can’t, using the correctly-sized pot on stove burners can save about $36 annually for an electric range, or $18 for gas. Covering pots and pans also helps you cook more efficiently and keeps your kitchen cooler.

Wash your laundry with cold water whenever possible. It can save the average household more than $40 annually (with an electric water heater.) If you are due for a replacement, it’s worth investing in a new washer, which are more efficient than those manufactured 10 or 12 years ago. “Energy Star” qualified washers reduce energy use by about 30 percent, compared to standard washers. They also reduce water consumption by more than 50 percent, and have a better spin cycle allowing for less drying time. To this I can attest since I bought a new washer/dryer combo last year, which substituted an early 1990’s model, and my energy bill was lowered by 500 Kw per month.

Air-dry your clothes whenever possible.

If using the dryer, one of the easiest things you can do to increase drying efficiency is to clean the lint trap before each and every load. This step can save you up to $34 each year in energy costs.

For more information, please visit http://www.energystar.gov.

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 27 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.

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