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13 Green-Living Myths, Shattered


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You already know that an eco-conscious life is better for you and the environment. It’s also just an all-around smarter, healthier and more efficient way to move about your day. But, with all the information and misinformation swimming around out there, deciding where to start, and knowing what to do, can be tricky.

Have no fear. Our experts are here to help you separate myth from fact when making greener choices every day. Check out their tips, make a few key changes and, before you know it, your carbon footprint and your utility bill will start to shrink. How's that for smart growth?

Get energized.

Photo: thinkstockphotos.com

The rising cost of oil translates to climbing electricity prices for Hawaii residents. While it might seem like there’s little an individual can do to help the situation, the opposite is actually true. You have the power to promote a cleaner future for you, your family and the Aloha State. Here are some of the most common misconceptions regarding energy conservation:

We can save money on our energy bills and reduce our carbon footprints by doing simple things around the house.

IMAGE: courtesy HECO

MYTH 1: I can’t afford to make big changes at home, so there’s not much I can do.

FACT: There are hundreds of things you can do. “Many people associate living green with big investments or inconvenient lifestyle changes,” says Jill Tokunaga of Hawaii Gas, the only franchised gas utility in the state. “The truth is, we can save money on our energy bills and reduce our carbon footprints by doing simple things around the house.” For example, says Darren Pai of Hawaiian Electric Company, “Our ‘Cool Tips for Home and Work’ brochure offers practical advice on free, low-cost and moderately priced home improvements that curb electricity use while helping you stay comfortable during the summer months.” The brochure is available at all eight City Mill locations on Oahu or online at heco.com, where you can also check out Hawaiian Electric’s “Top 10 Tips for Energy Conservation.”

MYTH 2: Single changes can’t possibly add up to big savings.

FACT: They do add up! Installing a solar water heater can save a typical family of four  $600 per year, paying for itself in four years, according to Hawaii Energy. Switching 10 incandescent bulbs to CFLs can save the same typical family $240 per year. And did you know that every minute deducted from your hot shower saves you $38 to $57 per year? For more ideas, visit the Hawaii Gas website, at hawaiigas.com, and click on “Good Energy Tips.”

MYTH 3: Conserving electricity means I’ll have to give up the amenities I love.

FACT: It’s about smart use, not total sacrifice. “A lot of people think, ‘We will have to start living in the dark when watching our electricity use,’” says Eric Carlson of Photovoltaic (PV) system provider Revolusun. But with automatic light switch controls, automatic sprinkler systems, automatic computer sleep times, power strips and more, technology can do the work for you. Install a PV system, and your household runs automatically on solar energy whenever possible. Now that’s automatic savings!


MYTH 4: Solar water heaters have a prohibitive upfront cost.

FACT: You can benefit from an instant $1,000 rebate from Hawaii Energy, plus state and federal tax credits, all of which will allow you to purchase a system for about $2,000. And, through its “Hot Water, Cool Rates” program, Hawaii Energy can help you find zero-to-low interest financing on a new system. Visit hawaiienergy.com for details.

MYTH 5: I can’t save energy in the kitchen. I’m stuck with old appliances!

FACT: You can still do a lot with your current kitchen setup. “At home, when I bake something more forgiving of temperature like eggplant parmesan or a casserole, I turn the oven off before it’s done for the carryover cooking,” says Executive Chef Ronnie Nasuti of Tiki’s Grill & Bar, a local restaurant whose Green Program employs energy- and waste-saving initiatives to reduce its carbon footprint. “I do the same with pasta to reduce heat and energy.” Nasuti also saves water and energy by cooking bland items, such as eggs and spaghetti, in the same pot, to be used in separate recipes later.

MYTH 6: I can only afford one improvement. That won’t even make a dent in my bill.

FACT: If your refrigerator is 15 years or older, it will. Replacing that old machine with an ENERGY STAR® fridge can save as much as $500 in electricity costs annually, according to Hawaii Energy.

MYTH 7: I like the idea of saving more energy. But it’s going to be hard to get the kids on board.

FACT: “Hawaiian Electric has turned energy conservation into a game that kids and parents alike can participate in and learn ways to save together,” says Pai. “Our Energy Detective Guide takes families on a household energy audit to find the villains and phantoms that silently waste our energy. At the end of the guide, kids are official ‘energy detectives’ who can complete a pledge for a chance to win an energy conservation kit.” Find it, as well as the online My Home Energy Check, (another popular energy-audit tool) at heco.com.

Image: Thinkstock.com

For hundreds of ways to conserve energy in every room in the home, download the “Power to Save” and “101 Ways to Save” booklets (also available in Ilocano and Cantonese) at heco.com under “Energy Savings Toolkit.” Check out Hawaiian Electric’s “Energy Tips and Choices” booklet, too.

Upgrade your old, energy-sucking appliances with new energy-efficient gas models and receive credits to your gas bill from Hawaii Gas. To learn more, visit hawaiigas.com and click on “Rewards.”

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