Get Off the Energy Grid

It's easy. It's painless. And it's a great excuse to buy a flat-screen TV

| January / February 2006

You've been meaning to conserve more energy and inch off the power grid, but you're tired after work, starting the process takes time and research, and, really, how much energy does that tiny TiVo box use? (You'd be surprised.) In a world marked by dwindling energy resources and a climate of militarized tension over where the next generation of energy is coming from, we can no longer afford to wait. The time has come to take baby steps toward bringing renewable energy home. Herewith, a grid to help you get off the grid:

Secure Your Fortress

Insulate: An obvious but important step, insulating keeps the heat in and the cold out. The cost of buying insulation is offset in your heat bill savings.

Get a sun shield (radiant barrier) in your attic: Barriers improve air-conditioning efficiency by up to 12 percent by deflecting up to 97 percent of the sun's radiant heat. Barriers are under $100 and require only a scissors and a staple gun for installation.

Wrap your water heater: Water heaters run 24/7, which means they gobble up energy 24/7. Add a water heater blanket, a very cheap purchase at any home store, if you don't have a newer model with insulation already built in. This could save you up to 9 percent in water heating costs.

Hang curtains with a valance: Curtains act as insulation, but without a valance can create convective currents when the air between the curtain and glass cools down. As the cooler air drops, valuable warm air gets sucked into the top of the curtain and starts the process again. A valance helps stop this hot-air vacuum effect.

James Free
7/5/2008 1:39:04 AM

You had me going there until the last line "pimp your RV and go road-tripping in style with the help of the sun." I would hate to think that this is the Utne mindset. America is filled with pseudo environmentalists that pay lip service to environmental responsibility and then go tripping off with their RV. How about hiking, or cycling, or almost anything but an RV??? Maybe your editorial staff needs a reality check?

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