I am seriously fed-up and disgusted with spending all my money on energy. It’s bad enough to add up what I spend on gasoline for my car, but I feel like I’m burning money every time I pay for natural gas and electricity. And what do I get in return? I suppose I have the privilege of cooking at home, keeping my food cold in the refrigerator, keeping barely warm in the winter, and running my ceiling fans on the hot summer days. I can’t really say I’m comfortable, because I put up with a lot of discomfort just to save money.
Rather than just complaining about, here is what I plan to do about it:
1. Replace the central heater/AC unit with a new, super-efficient model. It’s time to replace the original unit which dates back to 1976 when they ran a gas line to my once all-electric home.
2. Get a PowerSave 1200. This little box retails for $299.95. It’s a solid state, high-tech device with no moving parts that never wears out and can reduce electric bills by as much as 25 percent: www.power-save.com/1200.html
3. Retrofit my home with super-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs. Now widely available in home improvement stores, the newer units provide warm, natural light with long-lasting bulbs using new technology pioneered by GE Corporation: www.gelighting.com/
4. Replace my old, inefficient refrigerator with a Sunfrost. Featuring several stylish models, this is literally the most efficient refrigerator system in the world. The units use a mere 365 watts of electricity per day. No per hour, as some older units do, that’s 365 watts in a 24-hour day. In most homes, the refrigerator accounts for most of the electric bill: www.sunfrost.com/
5. Retrofit my fireplace with a super efficient unit from Vermont Woodstove. More than just an energy saver, these stylish units are EPA certified for creating extremely low emissions. They use catalytic technology to recycle burned gases a second time, resulting in very little smoke and noxious gases. In addition, they use soapstone from Vermont quarries for steady, long-lasting radiation of heat through the cold winter nights: www.vermontwoodstove.com/
Okay. This is a fairly ambitious to-do list, and making these changes won’t be cheap. But Ben Franklin once said, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” If I make even some of these improvements, I will be making a contribution to the planet. I will be doing my part to reduce greenhouse gases that threaten the ozone layer.
I expect to notice lower energy bills. In fact, California is one of several states that makes it possible for a home to become a “net energy producer.” Let me explain what that means.
Imagine for a moment that you no longer get a monthly bill for natural gas and electricity. Now imagine that your power company sends you a check every month. Would that improve your standard of living? Thanks to recent legislation, a growing number of people in California and other states actually do receive a monthly payment from their utility providers.
This requires an investment in solar panels which convert sunlight into electricity. Solar arrays have improved greatly in recent years. Today, they are substantially more compact, efficient and durable than ever. Depending on the layout of your property, they can be placed on the roof or in the yard. Loans are available to pay for the installation, and there are significant incentives in state and federal income tax.
Real Goods Solar is a first-rate alternative energy company that I have visited and done business with. At the present time, they have a very enticing incentive program for people interested in a solar array and the possibility of selling power back to the utility company as a “net producer.” Under California law, utility providers must buy back electricity (via a two-way meter) at the same rate they sell electricity to the consumer.
I am not eligible because my electric bill is well under $250 a month, which disqualifies me from their incentives. Of course, anyone in California can participate in the state program. Perhaps you or someone you know would be interested. If nothing else, check out their product line. I bought a solar attic fan from when I moved here which still works fine. Their e-mail address is: www.realgoodssolar.com. California residents should also refer to: www.energy.ca.gov/listservers/.
Remember, you don’t have to everything I have listed. One or two of these suggested changes can make a huge difference. Good luck, best wishes for much lower utility bills in the future, and thank you for your contribution to the future of our planet ‘” your home and mine!