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Celebrate Earth Day: Reduce your energy use

Department of Commerce offers steps to save energy, aid the environment

April 22, 2013

For Immediate Release:

SAINT PAUL, MN – In 1970, the first Earth Day mobilized 20 million Americans and launched the modern environmental movement. It rallied people from all walks of life and led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and passage of the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts.

Forty-three years later, the annual Earth Day celebration on April 22 is a chance to rekindle passion for a healthy environment. It reminds us all of how easy it is to conserve energy, save money, and improve our environment.

“On Earth Day, we are reminded to take care of our planet, to make progress on clean renewable energy, and to reduce our energy consumption,” said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. "While demand for reliable and affordable energy continues to grow, two easy ways to become good stewards of our resources are to conserve energy, and use it more efficiently – by turning off lights or going easy on heat and air conditioning, and by replacing old energy-hogs with new high-efficient ones.”

The Department of Commerce urges Minnesotans on Earth Day, and every day, to implement several measures to reduce energy use. Here are just a few steps you can take to make a difference on Earth Day—and save on your utility bills:

  1. Get an advanced energy assessment—An home energy assessment, with advanced diagnostic equipment,  will evaluate your energy use, insulation levels, air leakage, and the performance and safety of mechanical systems and will determine what energy improvements are needed. Assessments can be scheduled through your utility.
  2. Seal air leaks—An enormous amount of energy is wasted when inside air (either heated or cooled) escapes to the outside through leaks in attics, walls, windows and doors.
  3. Check mechanical systems—Water heaters, air conditioners, furnaces, gas fireplaces and ventilation systems should be inspected regularly to keep them operating efficiently and safely.
  4. Heat and cool efficiently—Replace old, inefficient heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems with new high-efficiency options. Seal ductwork and bleed radiators.
  5. Install a programmable thermostat—Programming your thermostat allows you to be comfortable when you are home and to save energy when you are gone or asleep.
  6. Control hot water use—Use low-flow showerheads. A standard showerhead can use up to 5.5 gallons of water a minute; low-flow showerheads deliver a high pressure spray at less than 2 gallons per minute. Turn down your water heater to 120 degrees, and wash clothes in cold water.
  7. Replace light bulbs—Replace old incandescent light bulbs with more efficient CFLs (compact fluorescent light bulbs) or LEDs (light emitting diodes). CFLs, for instance, use about one-third of the energy and last up to 10 times longer than a traditional incandescent bulb with the same light output.
  8. Reduce standby power—Standby power or "phantom load" is the electricity that flows through appliances and devices when they are turned "off.” To save energy, plug devices into an outlet switch on an as-needed basis. Plug home electronics, such as TVs and DVD players, into power strips, and turn the power strips off when the equipment is not in use.
  9. Install timers/motion detectors—Why keep things on when they are not in use? Timers and motion detector switches can operate devices that are used infrequently or have switches that are hard to access.
  10. Buy ENERGY STAR® products—Look for the ENERGY STAR label when purchasing new household products. ENERGY STAR signifies strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy.

For more on energy conservation and energy efficiency, visit the Commerce Department Division of Energy Resources website and see two energy guides: “Home Envelope” and “Appliances, Lighting, Electronics.” Check out more energy-saving tips from the U.S. Department of Energy.