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If You've Been Trying To Save Energy, You Haven't Been Doing It Right

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A new study from Columbia University, Ohio State, and Carnegie Mellon points out that, “Participants estimated that line-drying clothes saves more energy than changing the washer’s settings (the reverse is true) and estimated that a central air-conditioner uses only 1.3 times the energy of a room air-conditioner (in fact, it uses 3.5 times as much)."

Overall, people apparently think of energy savings the wrong way--that they can save by reducing use, rather than investing in energy-efficient appliances, etc.

Do you turn out the lights when you leave a room?

If you answered "yes," your actions are quite commendable, but it has virtually no effect on energy savings. To actually save energy, buy an energy-efficient light bulb--keeping it on will actually save more energy than flicking off a regular bulb when you walk away.

The takeaway from the study is that people are, as we sorta, kinda knew already, much more inclined to go with a quick fix than a long-term solution.

“Relative to experts’ recommendations, participants were overly focused on curtailment rather than efficiency, possibly because efficiency improvements almost always involved research, effort and out-of-pocket costs (e.g. buying a new energy-efficient appliance), whereas curtailment may be easier to imagine and incorporate into one’s daily behaviors without any upfront costs,” said the study, which was published in the most recent issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

But the real surprise?

“Participants who reported engaging in a greater number of pro-environmental energy-related behaviors had less accurate perceptions” about how "green" their lives were than the participants who didn't fancy themselves environmentalists.

Me? I'll be printing out the study on paper milled from virgin wood pulp and settling in to read it under an incandescent bulb in front of a central AC set to the highest setting possible. Then, maybe I'll buy a carbon offset and plant a tree. Or not.

Meanwhile, check out these Home Energy Conservation Tips from Minyanville

While our homes are more efficient today than they were 30 years ago, considerable opportunity remains for greater home energy efficiency and the associated benefits. To help households across the country reduce their home energy bills, Minyanville has prepared the following guidelines:

  • A large percentage of heating and cooling efficiency is lost through doors and windows. Board up your home’s windows with plywood and seal all doors to prevent energy seepage.

  • Did you know that a fireplace can shave as much as 10% off your winter heating bill? But wood is expensive. Save on wood costs by burning plastic.

  • Scientists say heat rises.  During cold winter months try to sleep on the ceiling.

  • Instead of costly and dangerous space heaters at night, consider creating a Personalized Nightlight & Bonfire by smoking in bed.

  • The human body is a very efficient heating and cooling system. Instead of central air conditioning and heating, just get a bunch of human bodies.

  • Take a cue from nature and gain 200 lbs of insulating, warming fat for the winter. Later, portions of this fat can be used to create candles and heating oil.

  • Window unit air conditioners are very inefficient because they blow out hot exhaust when in use. During the cold winter months, turn your air conditioner around backwards so the hot air blows in, not out.

  • Move your family somewhere warm in the winter, cold in the summer, just right during the fall and spring.  Become a meteorologist to help plan the moves.  Charter a private jet to avoid long airport delays. 

  • Be alert for anything burnable that your neighbors may leave unattended.

  • Be conscious of where you set your thermostat. Because the body’s normal temperature is 98.6 degrees it is best to set your home’s thermostat to 98.6 degrees for consistency.

  • It takes much less energy to heat a car than it does to heat a house. To save on home heating costs, sleep in your car in the garage with the engine running.

  • Carry the warmth of anger, humiliation, slights and regret with you at all times by storing them in a Little Box of Hurt you keep in the pit of your stomach.
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