The mercury in compact fluorescent bulbs poses no threat while in the bulb, but if you break one: - open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes or more - immediately use a wet rag to clean it up and put all of the pieces, and the rag, into a plastic bag - place all materials in a second sealed plastic bag - call your local recycling center to see if they accept this material, otherwise put it in your local trash. Wash your hands afterward. - if bulb breaks on a carpet, pick up pieces using sticky tape. If any debris remains, use the vacuum and dispose of vacuum bag by sealing it in plastic bags (as above), before disposal. Although household CFL bulbs may legally be disposed of with regular trash they are categorized as household hazardous waste. As long as the waste is sent to a modern municipal landfill, the hazard to the environment is limited. However, CFLs should not be sent to an incinerator, which would disperse the mercury into the atmosphere. The best solution is to save spent CFLs for a community household hazardous waste collection, which would then send the bulbs to facilities capable of treating, recovering or recycling them.
Light-emitting diode ( LED ) bulbs are also energy-saving, but have a narrower range of application. Advances in LED bulb technology, however, are leading to more applications for these bulbs in the home. LEDs are more efficient than CFLs and do not have issues surrounding disposal, as do the CFLs.
They don't have a filament that will burn out, and they don't get especially hot. They are illuminated solely by the movement of electrons in a semiconductor material, and they last just as long as a standard transistor.
Home appliances vary greatly in terms of energy-efficiency and operating costs. The more energy-efficient an appliance is, the less it costs to run. You can lower your utility bill and help protect the environment.
Refrigerator: The single biggest power consumer
The most efficient refrigerators are 16-20cu ft, with a freezer on the bottom or the top rather than the side. Foregoing features like auto defrost, ice makers, and heaters to control condensation can not only save up to 60% more energy and energy costs, but save you money on the purchase price as well. One large refrigerator is cheaper and more efficient to run than two smaller ones. Getting rid of an old refrigerator is one of the largest single contributions you can make to lowering your electric bills and to conserving energy and resources.
Sun (Solar) ovens are the most energy-efficient cooking appliance, as they require no fuel of any kind to cook , yet reach temperatures of 360° - 400°.
Hybrid solar ovens have all the benefits of a solar oven, with the added convenience of an energy-efficient electric backup for use when sun power is not available. When used in 'electric' mode, these units use 75% less energy than conventional electric range.
As much as 90% of the energy used by your washing machine is used to heat the water. For most washing applications, warm wash and cold rinse are just as effective as hot wash and warm rinse. The rinse temperature doesn't effect the quality of the cleaning.
Match water level and temperature settings on your washer to the size of your load. Don't fill the whole tub for a few items. Newer machines have automatic water level settings which adjust to load size.
Call your water utility and ask them how “hard” or “soft” your water is. You may be using up to six times as much clothing detergent as you need. Your appliance manuals will tell you how much you need for your water type.
Avoid using too much detergent. Follow instructions on the box. Oversudsing makes your machine work harder and use more energy.
Using a clothesline or indoor drying rack will save energy and reduce fabric wear on your garments (the lint on the lint screen is your clothing being broken down).
Overloading the dryer lengthens drying time. Clothes should dry in 40 minutes to one hour.
Clean dryer lint screen after each use. Lint build up greatly reduces efficiency.
Dry multiple loads back to back. Because the dryer takes time and energy to warm up to drying temperature, stop-and-start drying uses more energy.
Choose a 'perma press' (cool-down) cycle. No heat is supplied in the last few minutes, but drying continues as cool air is blown through the tumbling clothes.
Keep the dryer exhaust vent on the outside of the house clean. It should be clear of cobwebs and lint. The moveable shutters should move easily - they're designed to prevent cold air, heat and insects from entering the vent when the dryer is not operating.
Shading is the simplest, most effective way to cool your home and reduce energy consumption. Up to 40% of the costs of cooling can be saved by shading techniques such as landscaping, and working the drapes and blinds.
Thermal Chimney: Open the lowest windows on the side from where the breeze is coming. Leave interior doors open, and open the upstairs windows on the opposite side of the house. The warm air in your house will draw upwards and out the upper window, an effect called 'thermal siphoning'. This is most effective when the inside temperature is higher than the outside temperature.
Ceiling fans are efficient and use little electricity, less than 1/10th the wattage of air conditioners. Ceiling fans can also be used with the air conditioner. The thermostat can be set 4 Celsius degrees higher, for the same resulting temperature. This represents a savings of 30% of air conditioning costs and energy consumption. Ceiling fans are becoming popular as people become aware of the cost-savings benefits they offer.
Heat generated from within the house can contribute significantly to the costs of cooling.
Turn off incandescent lights. Only 5% of the energy that goes into a typical incandescent bulb comes out as light. The remaining 95% comes out as heat!
Switch to compact fluorescents. They give off 90% less heat, as well as using 75% less energy.
Cook with microwave or pressure cooker. The microwave generates almost no heat, and is much more energy-efficient than the stove or oven. The pressure cooker generates less interior heat with relatively low energy consumption.
Space saving, highly energy efficient "tankless" water heaters can deliver as much as 200 gallons of hot water per hour and since there is no tank to run out, they supply hot water endlessly. Because there is no storage tank to keep heated all day, and no pilot light, these water heaters only burn gas when you need hot water. This eliminates standby heat loss which can be as high as 3 - 4 % every hour for storage tank type water heaters. Different models offer varying water-delivery capacities. The units are easy to install, and available in gas or electric models. Tankless water heaters can save as much as fifty percent of the cost of heating water.
Turn off the monitor when your computer is not in use. Over half of the energy used by the computer goes to the monitor, so turning it off will save significantly.
Turn equipment off when it is not in use (except your fax machine). Even machines on standby use up to 30 watts of electricity.
Printing can be the most energy-intensive step, so print only pages you need. Edit documents on-screen to save unnecessary printing. If you have a choice of printers, avoid using a laser printer for draft-quality printouts.
Re-use paper. Inkjet printers can easily accept used paper, so you can print on the unused side. Or keep discarded pages for jotting notes.
Consider whether a laptop could meet your needs. Laptops use 10 per cent or less of the electricity consumed by typical desktop computers.
When buying a laptop, look for systems comprised completely of 3.3-volt components (processor, memory and LCD). These systems use 40 to 50% less energy than 5.0-volt systems, and are generally equipped with a lighter battery.
Inkjet printers have low energy consumption, are inexpensive and permit the re-use of paper, saving costs and reducing environmental impacts.
If you are buying a laser printer, look for one with an energy-saver feature, which reduces energy use when idle by over 65 per cent. Even when idle, laser printers consume between 30 and 35 per cent of their peak power requirements.
Turn it off when not in use. Even machines on standby use up to 30 watts of electricity.
Eliminate loss of phantom power: Plug your TV, DVD player, VCR and stereo into a power bar. When you turn them off, turn off the bar, so they won't be drawing "phantom power" while you're not using them.