In this challenging economy, Arizonans are looking for ways to save money. Energy efficiency is not only a proven way to save businesses and consumers money; energy efficiency offers immediate results.
The Arizona PIRG Education Fund encourages the Arizona Corporation Commission to adopt an energy efficiency standard of at least 20 percent by 2020.
While ultimately implementation of a strong energy efficiency standard will benefit all Arizonans, in the mean time, each of us can keep reduced energy consumption in mind and employ tips, such as the following, to save money and save energy:
Stay cool — Installing a programmable thermostat can save $100 a year when programmed and used properly.
For every degree you raise the thermostat setting on your air conditioner, your energy use will be reduced by 3 to 5 percent.
A clogged air conditioner filter will use up to 5 percent more energy than a clean one and can lead to early equipment failure.
Seal unwanted air leaks in your home — Sealing your ducts can save up to $140 annually on energy bills and help keep you from adjusting the thermostat because of one room.
Caulk and weather-strip around doors, baseboards and windows and look for other openings that let in unwanted hot air, such as gaps around chimneys, recessed lights in insulated ceilings and unfinished spaces behind cupboards and closets.
Be efficient in the kitchen — If cold air can't circulate and adequately reach food, your refrigerator or freezer will operate inefficiently. Toasters, microwave ovens, and counter-top grills use less energy and create less heat than a full-sized oven.
You can reduce your oven's baking temperature by 25 degrees if you use glass cookware -- putting less stress on your air conditioner to get your kitchen cool again.
Kill "phantom loads"— Even when turned off, your electronic appliances are actually running up your energy bill. One study found that consumption of standby power accounted for between 5 and 26 percent of the homes' annual electricity use.
For appliances that are inconvenient to switch off frequently, use power strips and flip the switch on the power strip to "off" to prevent devices from receiving power.
Unplug CD / DVD players, televisions, computers, and similar devices and remove unneeded nightlights, especially prior to trips out of town or long vacations.
Make smart purchases that save money — Energy Star refrigerators can reduce electricity costs by up to $100 per year. An Energy Star clothes washer can cut electricity and water use by as much as 50 percent.
In addition to cost and energy saving benefits, with anticipated population growth in our state generating additional energy demands as well as high asthma and other respiratory illness rates attributed in part to current nonrenewable energy sources, energy efficiency is a clean, healthy, affordable solution for Arizona rate payers.
Diane E. Brown is the executive director of the Arizona PIRG Education Fund. More information can be found at http://www.arizonapirg.org">www.arizonapirg.org