Energy Conservation Ideas: Inspiration From 2015

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Energy conservation and efficiency remained to be important to life at home in 2015. Here’s a summary of stories that helped build our energy knowledge.

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It’s that time of year, in the midst of the chaos, to reflect on what you did in 2015 to conserve energy. Did your ramp up your efforts? Were your intentions good but ultimately lacking? Were some projects successful while others didn’t measure up?

Looking ahead to 2016, do you have any plans to save energy and natural resources? Do you want to reduce your dependence on fossil fuels? Do you want to save money on your bills, too?

Here are 9 ideas I wrote about in 2015. Maybe they helped this year, and maybe they will help next year!

Heating and cooling

Most of us live where we have to heat and/or cool our homes during the course of a year. Cooling where I live means opening the windows to catch the persistent southwest breeze. But we do heat.

We also have a lot of sun. Many homes here employ south-facing windows to help with daytime heating. With the addition of thermal mass, the heat may not kick on until well after dark.

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Wood heat is perceived as dirty and polluting, but actually it is one of the most eco-friendly ways to heat your home. It is renewable, creates local jobs, and builds community. The newer woodstoves have minimal emissions.

Air conditioners are huge energy users, and they are expensive to operate. To stay cool without AC, get a little ventilation with operable windows and vents.

Reducing heat loss

Window coverings help keep heat inside in winter and outside in summer. Heat transfers easily through glass, so the most sensible and cost effective solution is the simple window covering. Honeycomb blinds are popular, but not for every climate. Window quilts work best in the coldest of places, and you can make them yourself.

Insulation is another must for reducing heat transfer, too. I researched several types and decided that expanded cork is the most environmentally friendly as well as being a highly effective insulator.

heat loss energy efficiency inspection infrared

Don’t put it in the landfill!

To live lightly means to generate as little trash as possible. We have limited space for landfills, so we shouldn’t needlessly add to them.

Seattle enacted a new law that bans food waste in landfills. Sounds ideal, but not practical. Food waste at home should be cut down first, then urban farms need to be legalized.

Upcycling means reincarnating one item into another one. A suitcase morphs into an end table, for instance. Old shutters can be turned into many things to keep them out of the landfill.

If you demolish a house, you have to sort through the pieces before taking it to the dump. Consequently, a lot of buildings get buried right on site. I’m not sure if this is legal, but I know it’s done. How about moving that house instead? Recycle the entire thing by moving it to a new location! It’s got dual benefits – it’s eco-friendly and generally less expensive than buying or building.

Plan now for next year

What were your 2015 successes? Failures? Did you try anything that you want to expand on in 2016? Was there anything you wanted to do, but never got the chance?

Now is the time to make plans for next year. Decide where you can save the most energy and the most money. A little shift in lifestyle goes a long way towards saving energy, money, and natural resources.

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Nan Fischer

Nan Fischer has been living and building green for over 35 years. Nan’s emphasis on the BuildDirect blog is about how to make your dollar stretch further, while also moving toward a more sustainable lifestyle, as well as upcoming and existing technology to help us live in an ecologically-friendly way. Nan also authors posts on the website of her seed business, sweetly seeds.