What’s the problem?
According to the US Department of Energy, residential buildings in the US consume 22% of all energy consumed.
The major energy consuming systems in the typical apartment building are (in order of decreasing consumption): heating, domestic hot water, lighting, cooling, everything else (appliances, computers etc….)
The bulk of money spent by New Yorkers on energy bills is directly exported to foreign energy producing nations.
Less than 1% of Con Edison’s power sources is from clean renewable energy.
What can I do?
- HEATING: Upgrade boilers, separate domestic hot water from heating system, reduce air infiltration and thermal bridging (heat/cold transferring into building through continuous metal elements) at windows, doors and other openings. BE CAREFUL about making sure there is adequate makeup fresh air to avoid poor indoor air quality.
- DOMESTIC HOT WATER: Provide insulation at hot water heater, install solar hot water panels and storage tank [see cost sheet attached.]
- LIGHTING: Change bulbs to compact fluorescent bulbs (eventually LED’s). CFL’s with 2700˚K color are very similar to incandescent light, there are also CFL’s which dim really well. For those families where someone won’t turn off the lights, use occupancy sensors.
- COOLING: Use ceiling fans, operable skylights to vent hot air in summertime, green roof for evaporative cooling. If you do have air conditioning and must use a window unit, get the most efficient unit possible…and take it out of the window before the heating season begins. If you have central A/C, a wireless thermostat might be handy so you can move it for max. efficiency in the heating and cooling seasons.
- ALTERNATIVE ENERGY: Geothermal – great in new buildings. Solar Photovoltaic (PV) panels are expensive even with the tax credits and rebates and are not yet very efficient (now approx. 12%) but are becoming approx. 7% more efficient every year. Solar thermal is much more affordable and efficient [see comparison sheet, attached.]
- GREEN POWER: you can sign up for your power needs to be met exclusively by wind. The cost is approx. 13% higher but the New York State 4% sales tax is waived for a net surcharge of 9%. Tidal power, via underwater turbines, produce huge amounts of power. Other sources such as biomass, bio-diesel, fuel cells are slowly coming into play. Eventually, neighborhood storage batteries will allow local renewable energy to be a feasible alternative to fossil fuels.
How this helps the environment:
All of these strategies keep carbon out of the atmosphere.
Any energy we can produce locally is by definition sustainable.
How this helps you:
All of these strategies reduce your electric bill.