See: Do you really need a diesel generator? for information, and alternatives.
Conservation and Tips
One of the biggest things any of us can do to help avoid energy shortages, and to help keep our air clean, is to conserve energy.
In addition, we can try to use power during off-peak hours, whenever possible. That means waiting until after 8 PM in the wintertime, or after 6 PM in the summertime to run dishwasher or washer/dryer loads, plug in electric vehicles, or use other energy-intensive equipment, and trying to use energy before 6 AM.
Some tips for conserving energy appear below. Some will help conserve natural gas, since natural gas is needed by power plants to generate electricity. We can also purchase equipment to tap renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power. APCD’s monitoring station on Santa Rosa Island currently runs on wind and solar power.
In the Home
- Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents. Compact fluorescents come in various shapes and sizes that fit regular light fixtures and can last up to ten times as long as old-fashioned bulbs. They use only about a quarter of the electricity the old bulbs use.
- Turn off lights when not needed.
- Clean your refrigerator or freezer coils. Dusty coils (at the back of your refrigerator) make it work harder than necessary. If more than 10 years old, consider replacing it with a new high-efficiency refrigerator.
- Consider long-term energy efficiency and conservation improvements for both cold- and hot-weather conditions. These include improved insulation of ceilings, floors, windows, doors, water pipes, etc. Replace old inefficient furnaces, refrigerators or dishwashers with new high-efficiency appliances. (They can pay for themselves in just a few years!) Look for the “Energy Star” label whenever you shop for appliances or computer equipment.
- Turn off computer-related and entertainment equipment when not in use.
- In winter, close drapes at night and open them during the daytime. Closed drapes at night also help keep heat in the house. Open drapes during the day helps the sun’s energy warm the house interior.
- In summer, close drapes and windows during the day and open them at night.
- Turn down your thermostats or turn off your heat during the day when no one is home. When summer comes, try to minimize your use of air conditioning.
- Turn off your heat at night, and set your thermostat to start heating shortly before you get up. An extra blanket will help keep you warm. If you don’t have a programmable thermostat, buy one. They’re cheap and easy to install.
- Caulk and weatherstrip around doors, windows and other openings. This will help prevent cold air from entering your home.
- Insulate your water heater and keep it at the “warm” setting, and insulate hot water pipes. Hot water temperature of 140 degrees is sufficient. Prevent heat loss by making sure your water heater is insulated and the first five feet of water heater piping is insulated.
- Repair leaky faucets and install low-flow showerheads. Leaky faucets waste water and make your water heater work overtime. Low-flow showerheads reduce water and water heater use.
- Check and repair disconnected or crushed heating ducts in attic and crawl space, and clean or replace furnace filters. Duct repairs and clean filters will help insure the heated air from your furnace isn?t wasted heating your crawl space and that it reaches your living space most efficiently. No air coming from an open register can be a sign of duct problems.
In the Office
- Enhance employee awareness of energy efficiency through training and less formal methods. Provide mandatory and voluntary training opportunities on smart energy practices so that employees can practice energy efficiency during emergency periods and year-round. In addition to training, send periodic e-mail messages about turning off lights and computers and implementing other efficiency practices; post signs or billboards near light switches or communal printers; and consider holding annual energy fairs prior to seasonal emergency periods to provide additional information for employees about how to manage energy use in the work place and in their homes.
- Turn off lights when leaving an area for more than a few minutes, and in areas with sufficient daylight.
- Use task lighting and turn off general lighting, where it is feasible to maintain sufficient lighting levels for safety and productivity.
- Turn off computers, monitors and printers when not in use. Ensure their ENERGY STAR-type “low power stand-by” mode features are set and activated. If they do not have ENERGY STAR features available, turn them off when leaving the office for more than an hour.
- Turn off personal appliances, such as coffee pots and radios.
- Where feasible, schedule high electrical energy-use processes during off-peak periods. (Peak periods are 5 PM to 7 PM in winter, 2 PM to 6 PM in summer.)
- Install motion sensors and separate lighting circuits, where feasible, to allow turning off unneeded lights.
- Consider long-term energy efficiency and conservation improvements for both cold- and hot-weather conditions. These will pay for themselves due to lowered utility costs, and will provide a net cost savings thereafter! If energy costs rise, these energy and conservation measures will pay for themselves even more quickly.
Berkeley Lab — to find out how to qualify for the new California 20/20 Rebate Program.
California’s Energy Conservation Network Ways to Save Energy
Center for Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technology
Energy Savers – US Department of Energy Tips on Saving Energy & Money at Home.
Home Energy – Information about energy conservation for people who work on homes and who live in them.