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Conserve your world

Conservation begins with you and the things that you do at home every day!

The word conservation is used a lot these days, especially when it comes to fuel, money, savings, and energy. Sometimes the word has negative connotations because people immediately think they have to do without something. But, according to The American Heritage Dictionary, conservation doesnt mean doing without — it means the act or process of conserving — carefully or sparingly, avoiding waste.

Because we all want to breathe clean air, drink pure water, and ensure that future generations are able to do the same, all of us need to be concerned about protecting the environment and conserving our natural resources.

The Public Service Commission, the agency charged with regulating most utilities in Florida, has recognized the importance of educating consumers about the growing need to conserve the states limited energy and water resources. This booklet gets right to the heart of conservation. It contains a variety of ideas on ways to use energy and water wisely and to make homes more energy-efficient. Following these simple steps will help you save money now and in the future by helping to reduce your energy and water needs.

Many of the tips require little effort — weatherstripping doors and windows, planting shrubs that require little water and trees to shade your home, installing low-flow shower heads and water restrictors.

Some suggestions are more involved — wrapping your water heater, buying energy-efficient appliances, and considering the purchase of a heat pump for your home. Other conservation tips may require a change in habits — keeping the thermostat at an energy-efficient setting, using the dishwasher only when full, and not letting your kitchen sink water run excessively.

Utilities understand that conservation and the efficient use of resources must be considered as a responsible approach to protecting the environment and reducing costs. Electric and water utilities are encouraging their customers to use less, recognizing that our resources are finite and that building new power plants is a huge economic burden. All of us working together will ensure that future generations have a safe, clean environment and an adequate supply of energy and water.

A colorful cartoon design house

A well-insulated home saves energy by keeping heat inside during the winter and outside during the summer. Adding just 1 inch of insulation to an uninsulated wall can reduce heat loss (winter) or heat gain (summer) through that wall by 40-50 percent.

Find out about R-values before you buy your insulation materials. Then buy the thickness of insulation that will give you the R-value you should have. R-values (or R-numbers) refer to the performance of insulation, measuring the resistance over time. The higher the R-number, the more effective the insulation capability. The numbers should appear on packages of all insulation materials: mineral, glass fiber, or rockwool batts or blankets; foam or loose fill materials that are poured or blown into insulation spaces; or rigid board insulation. If the insulation you buy doesnt have the R-value written on the package, ask the salesperson to write the R-value on your receipt for future reference.

Much of our residential energy, about 48 percent, is used to heat and cool our homes. An additional 16 percent goes for water heating, the second largest individual home energy user and expense. Refrigerators and freezers use 12 percent. The remaining 24 percent goes to lighting, cooking and running appliances.

We can cut our energy use and help control living costs by making our homes energy-efficient, even if we have to spend some money to do it. The money we spend now can help hold down energy costs.

Protecting your home from outside heat and cold
Millions of homes in the United States still are not adequately protected from outside weather, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Here are some tips to make sure yours is not one of them!

Draft-proof windows, doors and other air leaks

  • Test your windows and doors for airtightness. Move a lit candle around the frames and sashes of your windows. If the flame dances around, you need caulking and/or weatherstripping.
  • Caulk and weatherstrip doors and windows. Its easy to do yourself. Caulking and weatherstripping materials cost about $25 for the average house (12 windows, 2 doors). Savings in annual energy costs could amount to 10 percent or more!

Insulate Your Home!
No matter how you heat or cool your home, you can reduce the load on your heating and cooling equipment by as much as 20 to 30 percent by investing a few hundred dollars in insulation. Insulation is an energy-efficient way to control air movement. By slowing and trapping air, insulation acts as a barrier to keep house temperatures more constant. Reducing the rate of heat flow will also result in lower air conditioning and heating costs. The benefits of insulation -- lower utility costs -- continue for years.

  • Insulate your attic floor or top floor ceiling to a minimum of R-26. The attic is the most critical location, since more heat per square foot travels through your ceiling than any other house structure. If you have old insulation in your attic, you probably wont be able to judge its R-value. But if you have 3 inches or less of old insulation, chances are you need more to bring the insulation level up to the recommended level. Investment costs could range from $100 to $1,000. Heating and cooling savings, however, should range from somewhere around 5 percent (if you are adding to present insulation) to as much as 30 percent (if you have no insulation).
  • Find out if your home needs insulation. Your needs will depend on the climate you live in and the amount of insulation that is already present. For guidance, consult with a reputable insulation dealer in your community or with your local building inspector or county agent.
  • It is vital that insulation is installed properly. Insulation that is compressed or installed with gaps will not function at its rated efficiency.