Thursday, November 29, 2012

Today's Energy Insight

By placing a dry bath towel in the dryer with a load of wet laundry, you can cut down on drying time and save energy. When you add dry and absorbent material to the wet fabric, some of the moisture is wicked away by the dry towel. Add two towels to a large load if there is enough room but don't overload the dryer, this inhibits the tumbling action that allows air to circulate through the laundry drying it.
Also, clean the lint trap after every load allowing for maximum circulation and run loads back to back so the dryer doesn't cool down between loads.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Today's Energy Insight

Terri Bennett from the Kansas City Star recently published the following tips on how to have an eco-friendly Thanksgiving:

Do Your Part:
Top 5 Ways to Green Your Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving should be about a lot of things - family, friends, and breaking bread together. It shouldn't be about waste. This year, Do Your Part to make your Thanksgiving holiday an eco-friendly affair. To help you get started, here are my top five tips for being greener and healthier this Thanksgiving.
1. Serve local or organic foods
On a holiday that features a bountiful feast, serving organic or local food and drinks can have a big impact. When buying a turkey choose a local vendor or brush up on food label claims before you head to the market. Don't know where to start? Check out for information on local turkey sellers and information on healthier choices when doing your holiday grocery shopping.
2. Use nature as decoration
Make beautiful centerpieces and decorations with seasonal items from nature. Some examples include winter gourds, seasonal corns, or pinecones. If you use evergreen branches, let them soak for a day in a water-filled cooler to give them an extra boost of moisture. There's no need to spend big bucks on elaborate centerpieces when you can find all the ingredients in your own backyard. Add a few soy candles in various sizes for a finishing touch.
3. Rent or borrow tableware
If your guest list outnumbers your dinner plates, consider renting extra supplies from a party service. Or ask friends or relatives if you can borrow a few pieces to round out your set. Reusable napkins and cups are the most eco-friendly choice but if you must use disposables choose items that are made from recycled material or are easily recycled.
4. Use reusable "to-go" containers
When it comes to leftovers, reusable containers are the greenest choice. If you send out invitations, ask guests to help you stay green by bringing their own take-home containers. If you think a few people may forget, consider purchasing inexpensive containers as an eco-friendly parting gift.
5. Prep your vehicle for the road
And waste doesn't just come in the form of food and party supplies. If your Thanksgiving plans involve a road trip, make sure your vehicle is ready to go. First, make sure to take care of any necessary maintenance before the big day. And maximize fuel efficiency by removing unnecessary weight from the trunk and checking that your tires are properly inflated.
There's no need to wasteful this November. Do Your Part to enjoy the big feast and your family without spending extra money or creating more trash for the landfill. That's something we can all be thankful for this year.
(Terri Bennett is a veteran TV meteorologist, eco-expert and author of "Do Your Part," a practical guide for everyday green living available at

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Energy Observations at SEA

Thank you to Ms. Gentry's and Mr. Wulff"s 4th grade classes at the School for Engineering and Arts for inviting me to visit today. One of the students dubbed our time together as "Energy Observations." I like it. As you can see, the 4th graders were busy taking notes and calculating the cost of the energy needed to illuminate the fluorescent light bulbs above them in the media center.
The students asked some great questions as we talked about different types of light bulbs and the various wattage amounts. We also discussed phantom or vampire energy and the classes were given a homework assignment to hunt for vampire energy around their homes tonight.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Today's Energy Insight

Did you know that leaving your computer on draws an average of 50-300 watts, about as much as a common refrigerator? To save energy, a general rule of thumb for shutting down as opposed to leaving your computer up and running is about 20 - 30 minutes. If you are going to be away from your computer for longer than a half hour, then consider shutting down and restarting upon your return.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Dress for the Temp

Before you reach to turn up the thermostat a degree or two or five, try adding a layer. I remember being about 8 years old when I saw that the round dial type thermostat we had on the wall went up over 100 degrees. It was the middle of a really cold winter in Michigan and I asked my mom if we could turn it up to 90 degrees and wear shorts. Well, you can just imagine what her answer was... Even a degree or two does make a difference so try bumping your thermostat down and dress for the temperature.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The 6 Rs

Recently spotted on the campus of the University of Wisconsin in La Crosse was not your typical environmental awareness poster. This campaign went beyond the well known three Rs: Reduce Reuse Recycle. Also included were two additional appropriate words when it comes to being good environmental and energy stewards, Re-buy and Rethink. The poster got me to thinking about the current Pinterest trend which includes a lot of repurposed clothes and household items so I added a sixth R to the list. So please keep in mind the six Rs...
So instead of breaking up wooden pallets for your backyard bonfire, there are endless ways to repurpose the pallets. Below are just a few creative examples of what you can make out of discarded wooden pallets.
Outdoor lawn chairs

Rustic wall curio
Rolling patio table
Compost bin

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Inquiring Minds at SEA

Thank you to Ms. Kinville's 4th grade class at the School of Engineering and Arts for inviting me into their classroom this morning. The students were wondering how much it cost to operate the lights in their classroom and how much is saved by turning off the lights.
We talked about the fluorescent light bulbs in their room and the amount of energy each bulb uses. The students were able to calculate the wattage into kilowatts and then into kilowatt hours. We talked about the per kilowatt hour amount the district is charged and also discussed how this can vary based on the demand charges specific to the building. Once the students came up with the amount for one bulb, they then multiplied by the total number of bulbs in the room. The calculations continued as they figured out the cost for their classroom lights to run for one hour, then six hours per day and then for the entire school year.
Next we looked at three types of light bulbs: incandescent, CFL and LED. The students were able to compare the different wattage of the bulbs anywhere from a 100 watt incandescent down to an 8 watt LED. The fourth graders asked many great questions and we were able to talk about several different energy-related topics including alternative energy sources, vampire energy and ways to be efficient with energy use both at home and school.
Ms. Kinville and her awesome 4th graders at SEA.