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    • How Are You Celebrating Earth Day?

      Are you doing anything special this week, or this month, to save energy and money? If you're looking for ideas, check out the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy's Earth Day website for energy saving ideas, or read Elizabeth's Earth Day resolution post for inspiration.

      Tell us your Earth Day plans!

      You have the chance to share your thoughts on a question about energy efficiency or renewable energy for consumers. Please comment with your answers, and also feel free to respond to other comments.

    • Breaking a Cycle-Free Lifestyle for Earth Day

      Earth Day is just around the corner! And while it might not be a major day for most people, I still think it's kind of fun. I think every special day is an excuse to do something you normally wouldn't! (And, speaking of little somethings, the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy website is going to have a small page up to commemorate Earth Day this year. Look for that next week.)

      This Earth Day, I'm buying a new bicycle!

      Now, before I start, let me get this out of the way: Bikes and I have not historically gotten along. When I was a young girl, I was so thrilled to have learned to ride a bike that I invited my best friend over to watch. Then I ran her over. I biked to school when I was in high school, but I stopped after I ran over an innocent student and, a few weeks later, got hit by a car. In university, a friend lent me his bike. I was on it all of ten minutes before I ran over the first other person to show up on the walking path.

      I'm not really that careless, reckless, or dangerous, so I can't really figure out what it is with me and bikes. I decided pretty early on that I was probably cursed, because I'm not this ill-fated when I'm driving. (And thank goodness for that, huh?)

      But now it's time for things to change. I moved recently, and the new place is lovely. It's also incredibly close to a ton of really nice shops and stores. This is super cool! I've never lived in a place where a grocery store was within walking distance before. And because everything is in walking distance, it'd be kind of a waste to just drive around all...

    • To Generate, or Not to Generate?

      What could be more liberating than providing your own electricity, and not getting a bill each month? With a small renewable energy system, you can use alternative sources to create energy—maybe even enough to power your entire home.

      There are several options to choose from when considering a renewable energy system, such as solar electric systems, which can gather sun even from scattered areas. Solar electric systems can also be used as outdoor lighting. If this perks your interest, read considerations for installing a small solar electric system for a helpful list of questions to ask when selecting a qualified contractor to install one in your home.

      Another option is a wind electric system. Wind electric systems can be one of the cleanest options, and could provide as much as 90% of your electricity needs. To get an idea of the work and cost involved, check out our page on installing a small wind system for your home.

      If you have water flowing through your property, microhydropower can create enough electricity for a large home or a small resort, and "hybrid" systems that combine more than one energy source can provide electricity with no interruption to your service.

      As an added perk, those who connect their renewable energy system to the grid may be able to sell extra electricity to the local utility company. There are also several tax credits available for some systems, so check out our Tax Credits for Energy Efficiency Web page to see which systems make sense for your home.

      With so many options for creating your own electricity, you can soon be "off the grid" no matter where you live. Just be sure that you consult a professional before doing any work yourself

      Amanda McAlpin works for New West Technologies supporting the Vehicle Technologies Program...




Your Computer Would Like a Little Sleep, Too

I'm in the market for a new computer right now, so I've been doing a bit of research. While looking around, I ran into this page about computers on the ENERGY STAR website. I thought I'd share!

I had a little fun with the table at the bottom of the "Overview" tab, which talked about how much money you'd save if you activated power management tools on your computer. It's not the most detailed chart, and I wish I knew where their actual data was so I could look at it… But at its heart, it appears to say that if you leave your computer on every night and weekend and started using power management, you'd save $20 a year in energy costs over the 4 year life of a computer (assuming that you pay about $.11 a kilowatt hour.)

That's not a ton of money, sure. But it's something. It made me wonder about how I treat my computer, which is not extremely well.

I turn it off every night, yes. But I turn it on the minute I get up and leave it on until I go to bed. I put my computer in Sleep mode when I go out. But if I'm at home, I usually forget to do so. And while I turn my monitor entirely off before I go to bed—rather than letting it sleep—I almost never do when I'm awake.

Basically, I am being completely silly about my computer. It's time for me to turn on power management! It's not like it takes all that much time to wake up. And it's totally ridiculous to leave the thing on, full-blast and full-power, when I'm not even using it.

How do all of you treat your computers? Do you use power management settings?

Elizabeth Spencer is a communicator at...


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