20 reasons you might want to save even more

If you’re like most people, you can probably think of one energy saving benefit, or maybe two or three – the first three benefits I’ve listed below. They’re pretty obvious: save money, cut greenhouse gas emissions, and cut other pollution from energy use. But there are other benefits to saving energy as well. I’ve put together a list of twenty below.

In the unlikely event that the first three aren’t enough to motivate you to save energy – or if you need a list of energy saving benefits to convince someone else to do a home energy upgrade or something as simple as switching a lightbulb to a compact fluorescent – use this energy saving benefit list as a source of ideas.

What are the main home energy saving benefits?

1. You can save money on your utility bills.

2. You can reduce your CO2 emissions (the biggest contributor to human-induced climate change) for any energy you use that was produced using fossil fuels.

3. You can reduce your smog emissions (nitrous oxides and sulfur dioxide) for any energy you use that was produced using fossil fuels – especially energy that comes from coal.

4. An energy efficient house has more natural light and less artificial light, which is better for your health, better for your eyesight, and reduces stress.

Switching regular bulbs to CFLs can cut your CO2 and other emissions

Switching regular bulbs to CFLs
can cut your CO2 and other emissions
Photo by Dano, via FLICKR

5. An energy efficient house has fewer drafts and therefore the temperature is more even and comfortable throughout the house.

6. An energy efficient furnace is one you keep on an annual maintenance schedule. Not only does this save you energy, it reduces the likelihood of a breakdown in the middle of a snowstorm, and extends the life of your furnace.

7. A house with an energy efficient setback thermostat or programmable thermostat reduces energy costs while at the same time providing better (and healthier) temperatures for both waking and sleeping.

8. Replacing old, leaky windows with new ones usually involves buying windows that are not only more energy efficient but also open and close more smoothly, are more secure, and are easier to clean from the inside.

9. Replacing old, leaky windows with new energy efficient ones also means no more climbing up ladders twice a year to take off or put on storm windows.

10. Most fossil fuel extraction is extremely polluting, with the tar sands of Alberta, Canada being among the worst on record (and something many of my fellow Canadians, myself included, are very ashamed of). By saving energy you are helping reduce the contamination of air, land, and water in countries around the world.

11. Money you save on energy because you live in an energy efficient home is money you can spend on products or services that not only benefit you but provide employment in your community. Money you spend on fossil fuels by and large leaves your community for far-away regions or countries, often countries whose repressive political regimes are sustained only through the sale of fossil fuels.

12. The National Defense Council Foundation estimated in 2006 that the US government spends approximately $8.36, per gallon of gasoline used in America, on defense of the Persion Gulf area. The Foundation assumes that the primary objective of defending the Persian Gulf is to ensure a free flow of oil from the largest producing region of the world into the US. Therefore, US residents, by cutting their energy use and their country’s dependence on fossil fuels, may eventually reduce the government’s incentive to spend over a hundred billion dollars per year on US military activities in defense of oil. So saving money on energy is a way to save (in the long run) on taxes!

13. Saving energy is a great way to teach your children about environmental issues. It is an activity that has easily measurable results and one where your kids can participate actively. Get them involved from the get go! And teachers, take note: your students really want to help save energy in the classroom – they just need your nudge to get going.

Watch the meter spin more slowly

Save on your utility bills
Plow the savings into more improvements
Photo by photonburst, via FLICKR

14. Saving money on utility bills, and plowing those savings into more energy-saving upgrades, is a great way to keep pushing the envelope. The more you save – the more you can save again later.

15. Once you reach the payback period for an energy saving action such as upgrading your insulation, the savings keep on coming in for as long as you live in the home.

16. Some energy saving actions have a payback period of less than a year. A payback period of one year means that once you’ve earned that money back, you’re making 100% per year thereafter in profits. If you keep reinvesting your energy savings in other quick-payback energy saving actions you can get a far better rate of return on your initial investment than any GIC, money market fund, mutual fund, or even hedge fund!

17. Fossil fuels are an extremely valuable natural resource. We will continue to need fossil fuels for the betterment of society for generations to come, though for fewer and fewer purposes as alternatives such as solar, wind, and biomass are further developed. In fact, even the development and commercialization of solar, wind, and biomass energy will require fossil fuels. By conserving fossil fuel energy now, we ensure that future generations will have the fossil fuels they need to use for those tasks where only fossil fuels are usable, including tasks that will allow us to become a carbon-neutral civilization.

18. Since time is money, saving energy saves you time. The less you have to spend on energy the less money you need to earn to cover one of your basic necessities. This gives you many more options for a more balanced life – whether that means avoiding having to sell or be foreclosed on your house, switching from full- to part-time work, taking a lower-paying but more rewarding job, putting your savings into a retirement fund so you can retire sooner, or delaying going back to work after a parental leave to raise a child.

A stopgap measure to cut heating losses

A stopgap measure to cut heating losses
Photo by Mr T in DC, via FLICKR

19. In many jurisdictions you can get financial help from your utility or one or more levels of government for energy efficiency upgrades – whether that’s a low-interest loan to carry out an upgrade, or a grant, tax break, or tax credit for upgrades that increase your home’s energy efficiency. (Remember – if your government offers cash or tax credits for energy upgrades, make sure to have an energy audit before you start upgrading, if one is required to qualify! Otherwise any upgrades you did before the home energy audit may not qualify for a rebate.) These grants, rebates, credits, or breaks can make an upgrade pay for itself sooner and increase the upgrade’s profitability.

20. Replacing an old refrigerator or dishwasher with a new, energy efficient one often means more convenience and better operating behavior, as newer refrigerators tend to be quieter and more ergonomically designed, and newer dishwashers tend to do a better job of cleaning and generally don’t require pre-rinsing of any but the dirtiest dishes.

Any energy saving benefit from the list above, on its own, may not be enough to motivate you to do a major energy efficiency overhaul or even undertake one energy saving upgrade. But all these energy saving benefits together can become a powerful motivator – and if you’re creative or already an expert in conservation, you can probably think of energy saving benefits of your own!

To boil these energy saving benefits down to something smipler, using less energy means:

  • More money
  • More time
  • More comfort
  • More health
  • More convenience
  • More hope for the future!
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