Energy Efficiency is Finally “In”!

April 22, 2010

homesteading, smart fixes, thrift

Some of you readers know about my unusual background: in the mid-80s, my folks ditched the corrupting influences and expenses of suburban life to go live on a mountain. As a teenager, I helped log trees for firewood, harvested edible weeds for eating, and learned how to make my own clothing, conserve energy and water, and etc. We never got “off the grid,” so to speak, but we learned to be frugal, be wise with what we had, to create as little waste as possible, and to learn to live off the land and our own resources. We eventually sold the property as we kids grew older, but it was a really rich experience for me then. It was unique, too– while the rest of society was looking toward Yuppiedom, we were becoming Hillbillies, lol.

Well, we didn't exactly go THAT far...

But today, saving energy and reducing waste is BIG! I’m so glad to be able to be a part of it. I have long believed that we must be good stewards of God’s good earth and of all the good things He’s given us. We’ve really tried to incorporate good stewardship with what we do here in this house and yard. We try to keep an eye toward future technology, but only future technology that helps us to serve God better, to be smarter in our consumer choices, and to reduce waste and inefficiency.

With that said, it was my extreme pleasure to ask a few questions of home safety expert John Drengenberg, the Consumer Safety Director at Underwriter Laboratories (UL). Since we are going to be renovating this summer (kitchen, dining room, and installing new plumbing and electrical wiring), I asked John’s advice regarding these things. I tried to keep you guys in mind, based on comments and articles you have brought up in the past.

Here are the questions I presented:

1. I’ve seen ads on the Internet for a small rooftop windmill device that the homeowner can install on their house roof. Are these for real, and could they truly generate enough energy for the homeowner to make this worth their time and effort?

2. Regarding “vampire” electronics, those appliances that use power even when they are “off” (such as televisions and DVD players): my readers and I hate these things. Is the manufacturer required to label the appliance as an energy hog? How/where can we find a list of appliances that do not continue to suck energy even when off?

3. How accurate is the Energy Star rating? I’d heard through the grapevine that the majority of appliances were receiving the rating, even when these appliances were not truly energy-efficient. Is this true?

4. I’m renovating my kitchen this summer (I have an 1855 house and the last plumbing and electricity updates were in the 1940s). It’s a 100% DIY project- we’re doing the electric, plumbing, installing cabinets, etc ourselves. My readers are going to experience everything we do as I blog about it. I’m looking for ways to make my home more energy efficient, and also have an eye toward the future (appliances, wiring, design). Do you have any recommendations as to what I can do or include in my kitchen to make it (and my home) energy efficient?

Check out John’s answers to my questions in the video. And John– THANK YOU so much for taking the time to answer my questions! Your information is so helpful. 😀

If you go to the Underwriter Laboratories website, you can find a ton of information about energy-efficiency, buying and using products safer for the environment and families, and get information about terrific community projects. There are videos, too. I have found the folks to be very generous with their advice and attention– do check them out whether you are remodeling or not. I know you will find something helpful.

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