While the word Hanukkah has two meanings, first and foremost, it means ‘dedication’. So if your family is setting out a Menorah this year, why not take the opportunity to dedicate yourselves to new traditions as you also celebrate the old?
Saving energy is good for people, our planet, and the family budget, too. Talk to your family about the importance of making smart energy choices. Then, for each of Hanukkah’s eight nights, learn about a new energy saving tip together. This exercise can show your children that by working together—just like the Maccabees!— you can make a big difference.
Tip 1: Replace incandescent bulbs with more efficient CFL or LED lighting.
Tip 2: Turn the temperature setting on your refrigerator down. It was designed to work just fine on the lowest dial setting.
Tip 3: Vacuum refrigerator coils once a year. Too much dust makes it work harder.
Tip 4: Change your air filters. Ask kids to keep an eye out and report when an adult needs to change them in the future.
Tip 5: Get a new TV recently? Try turning down the brightness. Most come out of the box optimized for the showroom floor, not a dim living room.
Tip 6: Appoint a different child each week to be the official energy monitor and keep the rest of the family honest!
Tip 7: Send the kids on a spider web hunt. Tiny spiders are drawn to naturally drafty areas to build their cobwebs. If they appear in the same places, it’s a sure sign of an air leak.
Tip 8: Grab a Dreidel and break out the Gelt! Spend a power free evening playing games by candlelight.
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This Christmas my family is doing a homemade gift exchange. I am knitting everyone scarves, hand warmers, and ear muffs. Although I will probably develop carpal tunnel syndrome before this endeavor is complete, I have really enjoyed skipping the hustle and bustle of malls or frantically searching for the best deals online. (I mean how much can I really save on that coveted toy my niece has asked for by going to an additional 13 websites??)
And then I realized I still need stocking stuffers…. (My knitting skills do not extend beyond scarves, hand warmers, and ear muffs just yet.) This is going to require at least one trip to Target where I will have to fight the masses for a parking spot within a half mile of the store. So much for my retail free Christmas.
So I started thinking…. Since I have been working with Duke Energy my thoughts have been much more attuned to energy efficiency. I figure that so far my homemade Christmas has been pretty energy efficient. No trips to the mall, just a ball of yarn and some knitting needles. How could I extend the energy efficiency to stocking stuffers? A quick search on the internet and I found tons of ideas!
Now I will admit that many of the ideas I found (and will use) are more on the “green” side than the “energy efficient” side. (For example, fill stockings with fruit rather than candy.) And although “green” is a good thing (at least I think so) this website is about saving energy, so I am going to focus there. Here is what I found:
- Programmable thermostat (Energy Star)– I know it sounds like a boring gift, but in my book there is nothing worse than getting out of my warm, cozy bed on a cold winter morning before the heat has been turned on. I have programmed my thermostat to kick up the heat about 30 minutes before my alarm goes off. This ensures the bathroom is not an ice box as I get ready for work. I promise the cold natured person in your life will LOVE this gift!
- Solar chargers – “Plugged in” is the phrase of our times, but maybe we can find a way to be “plugged in” without physically plugging in. Invest in a solar charger for your smart phones, tablets, music players, etc. This will allow you to skip the plug and use the energy provided by Mother Nature.
- Smart Power Strip – Everything in my house is on a power strip. My dad swears by them – “just in case there is a power surge.” And of course it allows me to plug way more in than the 2 allotted outlets that are built into my wall. A smart power strip gives you these benefits with the added benefit of cutting power when it’s not in use. This is the equivalent of crawling behind the cabinet (and through the inevitable dust) that holds all my electronics and unplugging everything every time I turn off the TV or stereo!
- Ecobutton – This one is new to me, but it looks pretty cool! It is a device that you connect to your computer via a USB cable. It sits right on your desk top and is lit up to help grab your attention. Each time you hit the button it puts your computer in energy saving mode AND it tracks how much energy you save to help encourage a change in behavior. Considering the fact that my computer is on almost ALL the time, I think I’m going to ask for this stocking stuffer myself!
- CFLs – I know! We always talk about CFLs. But they fit so perfectly in a stocking! I just couldn’t leave them off the list. Maybe break down and replace some of those decorative bulbs you hadn’t gotten to with a specialty CFL bulb.
What other energy efficient stocking stuffers have you seen?
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Ah, fall! The season is filled with so many great traditions. After you hit up the apple orchard and pumpkin patch, bake off the season’s first fruit pie and contemplate all the ways your costume is going to win first prize at the Halloween party this year, it’s time to get down to brass tacks and actually prepare for the cold months ahead. Because October is Energy Efficiency month, it’s the perfect time to combine fall cleaning and organizing with energy saving strategies, so you’ll stay comfortable and sane once Old Man Winter stops in for a long visit.
Rotate and Organize Closets
After a lazy summer, most families’ closets and mudrooms need some serious attention. Enlist spouses, roommates and older kids to determine what can stay and what can go. Grab a large plastic storage bin from your local home store and pack away things like sandals and flip flops, beach towels, outdoor toys and citronella candles. Break out the heavy coats, scarves and mittens and organize the remaining leftover items. Wait a minute… is that a half of a box of free CFLs that you ordered from Duke Energy earlier this year buried on the top shelf?
Install Free CFLs
Seriously. Install the rest of your free CFLs RIGHT NOW. You can’t save energy if you don’t use them. If you’re particularly squeamish about throwing away old incandescent bulbs before they burn out, try putting them in fixtures you use the least often, like your attic stairs, closets or a spare guest bedroom.
Change Air Filters
Sure, it’s cold, but it shouldn’t look like it’s snowing inside your house! Dirty, clogged air filters make your HVAC work harder than it needs to, on top of being flat-out unhealthy and gross. Follow the instructions for your specific system, but it’s a good rule of thumb to replace air filters once every 3 months (or when the seasons change!)
If you’d like to learn more about CFLs and see if you qualify for a free energy efficiency kit, visit: http://www.duke-energy.com/whycfls/
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Still confused about how to make the transition to compact fluorescent light bulbs or CFLs? Well, thanks to new laws, all light bulb packaging now features a “Lighting Facts” label that includes information about brightness, energy cost, life expectancy, light appearance (warm or cool light), wattage and mercury content. The goal of these FTC-mandated labels is to standardize how the lighting industry markets light bulb features, while providing consumers with a simple and quick way to compare bulbs.
At the same time, the front of light bulb packaging has moved away from the long-trusted watt to classification by lumens. Lumens are an accurate measurement of brightness, whereas wattage (a measurement of energy used to light a bulb) doesn’t accurately convey the brightness of a light bulb.
For comparison, a traditional incandescent 100-watt bulb, a halogen incandescent 72-watt bulb and a compact fluorescent 23-watt bulb all deliver the same brightness – about 1,600 – 1,700 lumens. Just remember, the higher the lumen number, the brighter the bulb. The new world of light emitting diode (LED) bulbs falls into this regulation as well.
CFLs still cost more to purchase, but their energy efficiency and lifespan deliver a solid return on investment. Because a CFL uses an average of 75 percent less energy than a standard incandescent bulb and can last up to 10 times longer, you should easily save more than $40 over the lifetime of a CFL bulb. And if you haven’t already, don’t forget to sign up for Duke Energy’s free CFL offer. Click here to see if you qualify.
Now you can shop smart, save money and enjoy the ambiance created by any number of lighting styles. Share with us how you’ve transitioned your home to CFLs in the comment section below.
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Spring is here so I suppose it is that time again – time to get out there and get educated about sustainability and eco-friendly living by attending the Charlotte Clean and Green event. The Charlotte Clean and Green event is an annual… well, I guess I would call it a type of festival, with a focus on the environment. For the past several years, this free public event has been held during the spring in uptown Charlotte. Duke Energy, along with Wells Fargo, is a key sponsor of this community event. This year, Duke Energy is also one of nearly 30 exhibitors that plan to set up tents booths and tables to provide demonstrations, education and lots of freebees.
I attended this event last year, supporting the Duke Energy display where we provided our customers with free energy conserving compact fluorescent light bulbs and offered a little show-and-tell with our plug-in electric vehicles. Standing behind the table or running through the features of Duke Energy’s all-electric Tesla Roadster with interested passers-by, I saw scores of couples, families, children and individuals with gift bags, balloons, ice cream, information packs, painted faces and trees! (Yep, there were even small, ready-to-plant trees given away by our Carbon Offset program!)
This year, exhibitors will include
- Conservation agencies
- Eco-free/Cruelty-free boutiques
- Sustainable architectural firms
- Tree and plant specialists, green landscaping companies
- Organic cleaning companies, organic clothing companies, organic… well, anything companies
- Energy conservation companies, energy management companies, energy companies
- Heating and cooling vendors
Everyone I saw last year seemed to have a smile, a question or a painted face, but everyone looked to be having a good ol’ afternoon. If you haven’t had a chance to experience Charlotte Clean and Green, I would recommend that you at least come check it out. Oh, and bring a friend to buy you an eco-friendly ice cream cone to boot.
This year’s Charlotte Clean and Green event will be held on May 19th from 10am to 4pm in Uptown Charlotte’s Elizabeth Park. For more information, visit www.charlottecleanandgreen.com.
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Youtility is full of energy (and money) saving ideas. From dusting light bulbs to installing new HVAC units, these ideas, tips and tricks run from low to high commitment and from low to high impact.
The week of April 9, we asked you in our weekly poll, “What would you do to save energy?” The results were insightful.
We gave you the following choices:
- Drive a hybrid or PEV;
- Unplug my cell phone charger and lamps when not in use;
- Push the “energy saver” button on my fridge;
- Install CFLs (compact fluorescent light bulbs);
- All of the above;
- None of the above.
Of those options, 58 percent of respondents said they would do all of the items listed to save energy. That’s a high number, but probably to be expected on a site dedicated to helping you control your energy use.
The next most selected item (25 percent) was install CFLs. That’s a great low commitment item can deliver substantial savings. Just order some free CFLs from Duke Energy, swap them out, and then enjoy the savings for the next 5-10 years.
Drive a hybrid or PEV, unplug my cell phone charger or lamps, and push the “energy saver” button on my fridge, all garnered between 2 and 4 percent of the clicks. That’s okay though, because 58 percent of respondents will be doing all of these things, which puts those numbers above 60 percent in every category.
Four percent of you said you would do none of the above to save energy. That begs the question – if you won’t do the things listed, do you have any other ideas (and of course it’s okay if you don’t)? Tell us in the comment section below.
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Around your home: CFLs
Changing to compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) just makes sense. CFLs last longer, use less energy and save you money. In 2011 we distributed 20 million CFLs to our customers, saving enough energy to power more than 65,000 residential homes or offsetting the carbon output of 130,000 passenger cars.
Join the growing number of people who are switching to CFLs. If you’re a Duke Energy customer you may be eligible to order free CFLs. Check your eligibility and order today at www.duke-energy.com/freeCFLs.
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Spring cleaning is a great time to take advantage of many of the energy saving tips that can be found here on Youtility. For example, you can dust your light bulbs or switch them out for CFLs, change your HVAC return filters, program your thermostat, make sure your ceiling fans are turning counter clockwise for the wind chill effect and vacuum your refrigerator coils. Duke Energy customers – the Halpins, from Charlotte, N.C. – were kind enough to let us in their home to show us how easy it is to be energy efficient. Watch the video and then download and print this checklist to get your family started on the right track this spring!
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The pace of technology today can seem breakneck: there’s a new device practically every day. While we do live in an exciting time, some of the most life-altering technological advancements didn’t happen last year… they didn’t even happen in the last century!
It’s appropriately fitting that great ideas are sometimes referred to as light bulb moments, since the light bulb itself was a pretty darn good one. Refined for wide use with a carbon filiment by Thomas Alva Edison in 1879, the incandescent light bulb completely revolutionized the way we live. It made streets safer and businesses more productive. And it gave people hours of time for activities like reading, writing or sewing that had previously been difficult by dim candlelight. But as life changing as this invention was, the incandescent light bulb is just one of many late 19th century inventions that we still love today.
Alexander Graham Bell patented the telephone in 1876. Original prototypes relied on a series of electromagnets, membranes and cemented iron to reproduce sound.
Levi Strauss patented denim pants reinforced with copper rivets in 1873. Called “waist coveralls,” the rugged work pants were marketed to miners who flocked to California’s gold rush.
James Naismith, a Canadian physical education teacher, invented Basketball in 1891 to keep students active during long, cold winters. The original version of the game was played by throwing a soccer ball into a peach basket, with the bottom still intact.
George Eastman, looking for ways to make photography more portable, created the first flexible roll of film in 1882, eliminating the need for inconvenient glass plates.
It’s interesting to consider just how far many inventions have continued to develop. Telephones are small and smart. Jeans come in millions of styles. Basketball is one of the most popular sports in the world. And photography has gone from glass plates, to flexible film, to entirely digital. Yet, one of these inventions has remained virtually unchanged for over a hundred years: the incandescent light bulb.
Think about how many incandescent bulbs you still have in lamps and fixtures throughout your home. Now ask yourself: what other technology do rely on that hasn’t been improved upon in over 130 years? Today’s CFL and LED bulbs might cost a little more at the register, but they’ll save you big over the long term by using 75% less electricity. It’s time to hang up the 1879 technology for 2011!
If you’re a Duke Energy customer, you may qualify for free CFL bulbs. Visit www.duke-energy.com/freecfls to see if this offer is available in your area.
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Despite the fact that they use up to 75% less electricity than an incandescent light bulb, compact florescent light bulbs (or CFLs) haven’t always been showcased in the best possible light. Since their widespread introduction in 1999, some people have remained skeptical about their safety and visual appeal. I think it’s easy to understand some peoples’ initial hesitance, since those first generation bulbs looked pretty funny. When lit, they’d flicker for several seconds before finally illuminating the room in an unfamiliar cool blue tone. And at a hefty $12 – $25 a pop, outfitting every lamp in the house was a pretty steep proposition.
Today, some people still cite concern about the safety of CFLs. It’s true that they contain a small amount of mercury inside the glass tubing, but no mercury is ever released unless the bulb is broken. Light bulbs have always been made of glass, so handling them with care isn’t exactly a new proposition. CFL or not—broken glass is no fun! The good news is that if a CFL bulb ever does break in your home, the EPA has some simple guidelines for a quick, safe cleanup.
Today’s CFLs have advanced dramatically over the last decade, offering a wide range of decorative options. They’re available in several tones of warm and cool light, and are designed fit several different applications—from recessed (or canned) lighting to designer chandeliers. On a recent trip to the store, I even found a CFL black light for an upcoming children’s party and a CFL outdoor bug light to keep pests away from my door.
Besides looking great and giving you options, CFLs also:
- Last up to six times longer than an incandescent bulb
- Use approximately 75% less energy
- Can save up to $30 on your energy bill over each bulb’s lifetime
- Now cost as little as $2 per bulb
According to the US Energy Star program: “If every American replaced just 1 bulb in their home with a CFL, the resulting energy savings would eliminate greenhouse gasses equal to that of 800,000 cars.”
EIGHT HUNDRED THOUSAND CARS!
Today’s CFLs look great, are more affordable and continue to save you money, all while being better for the planet. What’s not to love?
Do YOU qualify for free CFLs from Duke Energy? Programs may vary by state. Please visit www.duke-energy.com/freecfls to see if you qualify today!
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When I started replacing old incandescent bulbs around my home with my free CFLs, I had mixed feelings. I knew the CFLs were more energy efficient, but their shape and wattage didn’t necessarily work with my lamps or my decor. I replaced 15 bulbs in my home with the free CFLs, but I wanted more options to suit my needs. Recently, I needed to buy a bulb for a specialty lamp, and I just knew a CFL was not an option. But I was wrong!
While looking over the bulbs selection at my local home improvement store, I was delighted to see that I had so many CFL options. I was very surprised to learn that:
- CFLs are now available in many different shapes, such as spirals, torpedoes, candles and globes.
- They’re designed for all types of fixtures and to suit most decorative needs.
- They’re available with three-way and dimmer switch options.
- CFLs offer bright daylight options, as well as yellow and pink bulbs to provide a softer lighting effect.
- There are more wattage and threading choices, as well as CFL bug lights for my patio.
I was so excited about all these options that I ended up replacing five more incandescent bulbs that day. Admittedly, if I had not received my free CFLs I may not have changed my bulbs – or attitude – as quickly. I like using about 75 percent less energy, saving on my energy costs, and knowing that my specialty bulbs will also last about 10 times longer. If you haven’t received your free CFLs, visit www.duke-energy.com/freecfls. If you have, then visit your local store and check out all the new CFL options.
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