Reducing energy and heating costs aren't just good for the environment, they're good for the wallet. There are many things one can do, even as a renter, to lighten their environmental impact. Replace regular light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) or LED lights. They produce the same light level as incandescent, but use much less energy and can last up to ten times longer.
Unlike ordinary light bulbs, CFLs contain a very small amount of mercury in the glass tubing, so special clean-up and disposal methods are needed. You can recycle your CFLs at many locations, including 3 drop-off sites in Manhattan, thanks to Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer's Go Green Initiative in partnership with GrowNYC. Click Here to find where you can recycle your CFLs. Visit EPA's website for more information on dealing with mercury spills.
You can also replace ordinary light switches wtih dimmers or motion sensors. Whenever a dimmer is not turned all the way up, you are saving energy. Motion sensors will turn on a light and keep it on only if someone is in the room. Utilize natural light as much as possible. Turn the lights out whenever you leave a room.
INSULATION: Whether during the summer or the winter, insultaing your home is an effective way to save energy. An insulated home does not gain or lose heat as quickly as a non-insulated one, so it is easier to maintain a comfortable temperature indoors. Close your windows and seal drafts around the windor and doorframes to keep the hot or cold air out. In the winter, you can also use clear plastic film to cover window frames; the film traps cold air that might come into your house even if the windows are closed. Up to 16% of your heat can be lost through unprotected windows. Insulating lowers the demand on your air conditioner and heating system, reducing your electric bill and extending the life of the system.
SMARTER APPLIANCES: Replace your old air conditioner with an ENEGY STAR qualified model to be to save money and conserve energy. Turn in your old, functional through-the-wall air conditioner to be eligible for a $100 BeCool incentive, or your old, functional window air conditioner to be eligible for a $35 BeCool incentive. Contact GetEnergySmart.org or 1-877-NY-SMART for more information, and a list of locations to turn in old units and participating retailers.
In addition, all know that turning on a fan during the summer will cool down a room. But turning one on in the winter can help improve heating efficiency. As your radiator heats the room, the warmer air rises to the ceiling. By turning on your ceiling fan to the lowest setting, the warm air is circulated around the room. A fan uses much less electricity than a heating system, reducing energy use.
Whether they are empty or full, washing machines, dryers, and dishwashers use about the same amount of energy. It is more efficient and helps you save on your electric bill to wait until these appliances are full before use.
When buying a washing machine, look for front-loaders. These models use up to 25% less energy and water than a standard washer. You can save an additional 10 cents a load by washing with cold water whenever possible. Almost 90% of energy consumed by washing machines is used to heat the water. Keep the lint filter in the dryer clean, since a clogged filter can increase energy use up to 30%. During the spring and summer, another eco-friendly alternative is hanging your clothes up to dry!
GREEN POWER: Con Edison offers a list of 100 facts about conserving energy, as well as the opportunity to purchase green power from your choice of providers (electricity generated by solar, water or wind) through ConEd. Click here for more information on signing up for green power.