Are You A Dim Bulb On Energy?
How much do you know about the stuff that makes your life's engine run? In a country that uses the lion's share of the world's energy, Americans tend to be woefully uninformed about the substances that make their world turn. For instance, do you know which fossil fuel is the most environmentally friendly? What about what ethanol is made of? If those questions are no-brainers, I challenge you to see how you measure up on our Energy Quiz. Or, if you are now Googling "ethanol," wondering how this knowledge escaped you, try your luck at answering the questions below to see what you need to know.
- How many barrels of oil does America use every day?
- If all his/her energy needs were provided by gasoline, how many gallons of the stuff would an average American consume every day?
- By what percentage has U.S. coal consumption increased since the early 1970s?
- Today, what percentage of coal used in the U.S. is for electricity production?
- The energy supplied by the sun in one hour is equivalent to the amount the world uses in what amount of time?
- How much of the U.S.'s solar energy does California produce, and what percentage of the state's energy consumption does that cover?
- The market for what type of energy is increasing most rapidly?
- What country's wind energy market is growing by over 100 percent annually?
- What substances can be used to make ethanol?
- What is the most environmentally friendly fossil fuel?
- Why does natural gas smell like rotten eggs?
- If you connected all the natural gas pipelines in U.S. end to end, how far would they stretch?
- Over 20 million barrels (900 million gallons) of oil
- Seven gallons of gas
- Over 63 percent
- Over 90 percent of coal
- One year
- Two-thirds of the U.S.'s solar energy, covering 0.25 percent of California's needs.
- Wind power
- Grains like sorghum or biomass sources like corn cobs, cornstalks, wheat straw, rice straw, switchgrass, and forestry waste.
- Natural gas
- As natural gas is odorless, gas companies add mercaptan, a chemical odorant, so consumers can detect gas leaks from the smell.
- Beyond the moon
Did you get 1 to 4 questions correct?
Your score: Dim bulb.
Answered 5 to 8 right?Nailed 9 to 12?
Verdict: Keeping the porch light on.
Consider yourself en-light-ened.
Quick Tips: Save Water Heating Energy
Energy savings means money savings. Using less money is a challenge, for sure, but there is an easy way to spend less energy. Just learn how to more efficiently manage your home's water heater.
Take Advantage of Water Heater Settings
Unless you tell it to do otherwise, your water heater will keep making hot water - and reheating the water in it that has cooled off - 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Most homeowners don't realize that they have the option to customize their water heater, to help prevent unnecessary energy consumption and wear and tear on the appliance. Most units have a small dial on the bottom of the tank with a vacation setting and settings for day and night. You can activate the vacation setting, for example, so that the water heater does not heat water while you are out of town. Or set the dial to only heat water in the morning or at night, rather than while you are asleep or are away at work or school.
Convert to an On-Demand Water Heater
You can also install an on-demand water heater, which is a more high-tech unit that only comes on and heats water when you activate it by turning on a hot water tap somewhere in the house. These units quickly "flash-heat" the water, instead of keeping a large supply of heated water on hand at all time. They are many times more energy efficient and significantly more cost effective over time. By using less energy to heat water, you immediately lower your utility bills - and that turns on the tap into the piggy bank every time you twist a hot water knob.
Want an Energy-efficient Home? Questions to Ask Your Builder
Why traditional "duct tape" isn't good enough. And other important things to know.
Building or buying a new home? Renovating? With global warming on your mind and the economy weighing on your pocketbook, you might be wondering how to make it as energy efficient as possible.
Should you assume your builder knows how? Not on your life! Use this handy guide to make sure you're going to get the most green building for your greenbacks. Here are things to ask your builder:
What are my options for energy-efficient heating and cooling?
Heating and cooling systems are the biggest energy users in the home, followed by lighting and water heating, so you want energy-efficient equipment. You'll create a quiet, comfortable home, keep indoor humidity down and reduce your carbon footprint.
Equipment that runs on natural gas, the cleanest fossil fuel, is a great option. According to the American Council on an Energy-Efficient Economy, "The most efficient systems available are generally gas-fired." A conventional gas water heater will last for 13 years at a total lifetime cost of $5,394, whereas a conventional oil-fired water heater will last for only eight years, costing $11,299.
What about appliances?
Make sure to select efficient ENERGY STAR qualified products when choosing your lighting, ventilation fans, refrigerators, dishwashers and washing machines.
How will you install the insulation?
Insulation must be properly installed, filling in around all exterior walls, floors and ceilings. It must also be in full contact with the drywall to ensure proper functioning and prevent moisture damage. Any type of insulation can be effective as long as it is installed properly.
What are my window options?
Windows aren't just windows anymore. New technologies help your home make smart use of natural light and fresh air. Some of these features are invisible glass coatings, inert gas between panes, high-tech framing materials and weather stripping. These things will help prevent heat build-up and leakage and block UV rays.
Is tight sealing of ducts a priority?
In an average home, one fifth of air in the ducts leaks out through gaps and cracks. An efficient duct system can prevent such waste as well as noise, drafts, moisture and dust problems. Ducts should be the right size, installed in conditioned spaces and sealed properly using approved tapes, such as metal-backed tape.With so many new building technologies available, discussing your options with your builder is sure to provide energy savings that will be positive for both your environmental impact and your wallet.