Living Green and Saving Energy
(Sponsored) Energy efficiency has been a hot topic for years, but with so many messages out there, it can be difficult to find the right choices for your home. Get your questions answered and learn how to use less energy and save more green.
PHOTO: COURTESY OF HAWAIian ELECTRIC COMPANY
Are there any Hawai‘i-specific actions I can take?
Take advantage of the natural Island breezes with a whole-house fan. When properly installed, these fans can reduce or even eliminate the use of air conditioning by removing trapped hot air from the living space and drawing fresh, cooler air inside—without cutting a hole in the roof. You should also consider harnessing some energy from the sun. Solar energy can power just about anything nowadays. RevoluSun has been making solar energy affordable and attractive for homeowners for the past five years, saving more than 5,000 Hawai‘i families upward of $17 million in utility expenses annually. It offers whole-house fans, as well as photovoltaic hot water heaters, skylights and sun tunnels, home automation and security, electric vehicle charging and more.
How is Hawai‘i doing on energy use?
Currently, 21 percent of the electricity used in Hawai‘i comes from renewable resources. Since we’re already ahead of the state goal of 15 percent by 2015, Hawaiian Electric Company is aiming higher with new, ambitious goals. By 2030, it plans to increase the use of renewable energy to 65 percent, reduce customer bills by 21 percent and triple the amount of distributed solar energy.
What can I do?
Knowing how much energy you use is the first step. Help Hawai‘i reach its energy goals by using an energy monitor in your home. These inexpensive devices monitor energy production and overall energy usage of the home, as well as usage of individual circuits, so you can pinpoint problem products such as inefficient appliances.
Photo: Courtesy of Thinkstock
Upgrade your house in the right order. You’ll see the biggest gains in efficiency by installing a solar water heating unit, because it heats water directly, rather than creating electricity first, like a set of photovoltaic panels does. Then, invest in Energy Star appliances, to slim down your home’s total energy requirements. That way, when you’re ready to install PV, you’ll be able to buy a smaller, less-expensive set of panels.
Save on Energy … and Money
Making your home energy-efficient cuts your bills over time, of course, but did you know that the money savings can start right away? With Hawai‘i Energy rebates, you can enjoy discounts on new appliances and fixtures, and even free equipment. Right now, for example, until June 30, you can get a water heater timer that could save you $35 a year—not bad for free. Whatever you’re looking for, whether it’s a refrigerator, a ceiling fan or a water heater, chances are there’s a rebate that’ll shrink your out-of-pocket expenses.
What other changes can I make in my home to reduce my energy usage?
Photo: Courtesy of Hawai‘i Gas
Gas appliances are extremely energy efficient, plus they provide superior performance and cost less to operate. There are lots of appliances that can be powered with gas, including stoves, barbecue grills, clothes dryers and water heaters, just to name a few. Appliances that use gas energy are three times more efficient than appliances that use electricity derived from fossil fuels. Efficiency saves energy and money. Hawai‘i Gas customers can save up to 50 percent on their energy bills by switching to gas.
Tip: See the Light
Replacing your five most frequently used light fixtures or bulbs with models that have earned the ENERGY STAR rating can save you $75 a year. And LED lights are more affordable now than they’ve ever been, especially with $5 to $7 rebates available at participating retailers.
Tip: Shorten your scrub-down.
Cut your shower by just two minutes per day and save up to $100 per year on your electric bill.
Photo: courtesy of Hawaiian Electric Company
Tip: Don’t set your fridge
Or freezer temperature any colder than necessary. The ideal settings are between 36 and 42 degrees Fahrenheit for the refrigerator and between -5 and 6 degrees Fahrenheit for the freezer.
Tip: Shut it down
Before you leave the office, activate your computer’s sleep mode. This reduces the machine’s energy use by about 70 percent.
– Hawaiian Electric Company