Teaching Children about Saving Energy

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Saving energy is important because it reduces the amount of carbon that is expelled into the atmosphere. These carbon emissions have been linked to changes in weather and global temperatures. On a more immediate and personal level, wasted electricity costs you extra money every month. Teaching children early on that saving electricity and energy is important will help reinforce the act of conserving energy. Children learn more by doing that being told, so making a game or activity of saving energy can help teach them while holding their interest.

The website Kids Energy Zone has some games that will teach your child to save energy. In the Lights Out! game, your child guides Charlie the CFL bulb around a home in a quest to cut electricity use from lights and electronics. Charlie has to grab a CFL bulb from the basement and replace all of the incandescent bulbs in the house, then shut them off. A tally on the left side of the screen shows how much electricity has been consumed and the rate it’s being consumed. Try to get a lower total electricity to be an energy saving hero!

Try activity books like energy related coloring books to teach energy conservation while encouraging your child’s creativity. Energy Star has a section dedicated to children and they can learn about saving energy and protecting the environment alongside classic Dr. Seuss characters Horton and the Lorax. Kids Activities Blog also has a do it yourself project for kids to build a solar oven and make s’mores. The solar oven is built by using an empty pizza box and wrapping the inside and outside with aluminum foil. Cut a flap two inches from the front, left, and right edges and prop it open with a ruler. Place some marshmallows on a paper plate inside the opening, using the foil wrapped flap to reflect sunlight onto the plate. Depending on the heat and time of day, the marshmallows could take up to an hour to become soft and gooey. This project saves energy by not using any electricity, but the energy it uses is clean solar energy. You’ll also be repurposing the old pizza box, which contributes to recycling.

Finally, you could bring your children on an energy scavenger hunt. Print out this worksheet from EnergyHog.org and scour the house to rack up points for good energy practices. The higher the score, the better your home is for saving energy. This makes a good friendly competition between multiple children, and at the end you can explain ways to help reduce the energy, and after reducing it, have the kids try again to get the high score.

What Air Conditioner is Best for You ?

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Summer is in full swing, and if you don’t already have an air conditioner, you’re sure to be feeling the heat. When it comes to picking an air conditioner, you have the power to choose from several different styles and powers. But don’t settle on the thought that bigger is better with the belief that larger units will cool your home faster. The reality of it is that the size doesn’t matter. Air conditioners will cool at the same rate, but undersized units will not be able to fulfill your cooling needs, continually running but never reaching your preferred temperature, and oversized units will consume a lot more energy than is necessary to reach that temperature.

So how do you pick the perfect air conditioner? You need to look at the style of AC you want and what its capabilities are. All air conditioners lower the ambient air temperature, reduce the moisture in the area, and filter the air. AC units come in different styles: central, mini split, window, and standalone. Central air is installed throughout your house, with a condenser and compressor located outside and an evaporator and fan inside your home. These systems are expensive to install if you don’t already have ductwork, but they will cool an entire home. Other units won’t cool more than a single room, but they are less expensive.

Mini split units have a unit mounted on a wall inside your home. They are a cheaper alternative to central air if you don’t have ductwork. However, they are suited to a single, large room generally.  Window and standalone units are self contained units, with the evaporator, fan, condenser, and compressor all inside the box. These units are best for just a single room.

Specifically looking at the units that are good for cooling a single room, you need to know what the size of your room is to determine how powerful a unit you need. Window units are easy to install, but they block the window they are installed into, so you’ll lose any view you had by installing one. However, they are relatively cheap and removable for when temperatures cool down again. Window air conditioners are great for rooms that are 150 square feet to 1,560 square feet in size. Depending on the room size, you will need a certain amount of British Thermal Units (BTUs) of power for the unit. A 150 sq ft room needs an air conditioner that has 5000 BTUs. At 450 sq ft, you need 10,000 BTUs. The largest room at 1,560 sq ft needs 24,500 BTUs. If you live in a well shaded location, drop your BTU need by 10%. Likewise, if the room you are cooling is exposed to a lot of direct sunlight throughout the day, add 10% to the BTU total. If you are cooling a kitchen, add a flat 4000 BTUs. For rooms with multiple occupants, such as a dorm or bedroom, add 600 BTUs per person.

Standalone AC units are very portable and can roll around on wheels, but they are less efficient than window units. For a 200 sq ft room, you need a unit with 8000 BTUs, and on the higher end of the scale, a 600 sq ft room needs a 14,000 BTU unit. Their main advantage is that they are very portable and the attached hose can be placed in a window for venting. They can also be easily put away as they are not quite as unwieldy as their window counterparts. They are ideal for small rooms or to boost the cooling abilities of a central air system.

Mini split and wall mounted units are about as efficient as a window unit and have similar needs as far as room size and BTUs. However, these units are permanent and cannot be removed from where they are installed. Some models have a heating function in addition to cooling, which can be useful for the winter. They tend to be the most expensive option, especially if you already have ductwork for a central air system. They also have to be installed on an exterior wall to ensure proper ventilation.

All AC units now are required to have an EER, or Energy Efficiency Rating. The EER is derived by dividing the BTUs by the AC’s wattage. The rating should lie between 8 and 11.5, with a larger number meaning better efficiency. To calculate the proper size AC you need, measure the length and width of the room you will be installing a unit in and consult the BTU calculator chart for windowed or standalone units to determine how many BTUs you need. Remember that sunny rooms need 10% more BTUs and shady rooms need 10% less.

Purchasing a higher efficiency AC will be more expensive, but by combining its efficiency with cheap electricity, you can really save a lot of money over the AC’s life, likely covering the cost of the unit. If you would like more information on switching energy providers and saving money on your energy needs, contact Shop Houston Electricity today

Eco-Friendly Back to School Shopping

Power-To-ChooseIt’s already back to school time! More than likely, your kids have been dreading this time, and if you’ve already started going through the school shopping list, you’re dreading it too. However, you can save some money here and there and reduce waste by following the three Rs: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. For many of the back to school items, the three Rs will help you stay on or below budget as well as help preserve the environment.

 

Reduce

By reducing how much you need to buy, you inevitably reduce the amount of waste created. Purchasing new electronics, supplies, and furniture (for those going off to college) results in a lot of waste. Packing material like inflated plastic bags, foam peanuts, and bubble wrap is waste material from a brand new product. In addition, there is the carbon emissions from the vehicles hauling these items from manufacturer to store and from the store to your home. Find out what supplies you have left over from the previous year and exercise another R: Reuse them. You can also exercise the Reduce portion by reducing the electrical needs of devices by ensuring you purchase Energy Star certified devices. Energy Star certifies electronics and appliances that are at least 20% more efficient than their uncertified counterparts.

 

            Reuse

In addition to reusing school supplies from last year, you can invest in reusable supplies like lunchboxes and water bottles. Giving your child a disposable paper bag and a bottled drink means that after the meal is over, waste is produced. By purchasing a lunchbox and water bottle, you eliminate some of that waste and also give your child something to express themselves with. Let them pick out a lunchbox and water bottle with a design they like to encourage them to use them.

 

Recycle

It’s unavoidable that you will need to acquire some disposable items for the school year: pens, paper, bags, and other items may be disposable, but that doesn’t mean they’re not recyclable. Purchase recycled paper notebooks, pens, food containers, and even clothing to perpetuate a cycle of sustainability. Instead of throwing away these items, recycling them can bring them new life.

 

Reduce the number of items you need to purchase, reuse items you already have, and recycle items you no longer need. Lunch boxes, water bottles, backpacks, rulers, pens, and combination locks can easily be used again year after year. Look for post consumer recycled paper, notebooks, and pencils to keep the recycling cycle alive. Reduce power consumption by getting manual pencil sharpeners and solar powered calculators for your child. For larger electronic devices like laptops, get models that are Energy Star certified to reduce the amount of energy they consume. You have the power to choose how to implement the three Rs, and your efforts will greatly and positively impact the environment.