As we become more aware of the impact of human action on the environment, we can– and should– have conversations about sustainability. One area where people can improve environmental sustainability is home energy. Coal and gas are well-established as main energy sources and continue to be the easiest to use. But coal and gas deplete the earth of natural resources that can never be replaced. In the process of removing parts of the earth, we are destroying trees and soil— and our water and air quality in the process. Animals and plants are destroyed. Biodiversity is affected.
Solar energy is an option for personal and societal improvement. Getting energy from a more sustainable resource like the sun, especially in sunny Florida, seems an obvious solution for those who care about the environment. So why doesn’t everyone use it? Solar energy is one of the best options for energy production, but consumers don’t always have a choice. The reasons are multiple and sometimes personal. Maybe your roof is old, or you don’t have the money, or you are renting. Maybe you have a beautiful 200-year-old grandfather oak tree shading your entire home. Whatever the reason, sometimes solar is not plausible for many of us. But we can participate in programs that encourage power companies to increase availability of solar power.
Duke Energy has a shared energy program that allows customers to purchase “blocks” of solar energy. The fee for the blocks is added to the monthly bill and enrollees get a bit of credit “based on the fixed solar annual average avoided energy price, which is subject to change.” For information on DUke’s renewable energy program: (866) 233-2290. If solar blocks aren’t in the budget, Pinellas residents can contact Duke between 7 am and 9 pm to share support for sun power at (727) 443-2641.
Consumers can also take advantage of energy company incentives. Duke Energy offers incentives such as:
- Duct Test and Repair
- Attic Insulation Upgrade
- Heat Pump Replacement
- Energy Efficient Windows
Contact Duke Energy for specific incentives currently available.
Tips for home energy conservation
If solar panels or solar block purchase aren’t options, using the least amount of nonrenewable energy sources is important. Simple actions will lower electric bills and reduce use of limited natural resources.
- Turn off lights when you aren’t using them.
- Set air conditioning to 78 degrees. Or set it about five degrees cooler than the outside temperature to rid the house of the humidity.
- If it is nice outside, turn the air conditioning off and open those windows.
- Install solar tint on windows. This is a heat barrier, deflecting direct sunlight.
- Lower the temperature on your water heater to 120 degrees.
- Be sure all windows and doors have good seals.
- Check air conditioning for leaks. Don’t lose cold air to leaks!
- Install an attic fan to lower the attic temperatures.
- Add insulation to the attic to make sure cold air isn’t escaping.
- Only run the dishwasher and washing machine when they are full.
- Use LED lightbulbs.
- If your power company offers an option to buy solar energy from them, do it.
Duke Energy offers a home energy audit. A trained inspector will do a simple inspection, analyze your home and bill and tell you where you could cut back on your energy consumption. They will look for leaks and check attic insulation and air conditioning Ducts. They can use a thermal camera to see if the attic or any doors or walls are leaky. They even leave you with tips and an energy efficiency kit that includes low-pressure shower heads and faucet aerators and door and window seals. If you prefer, Duke will walk you through a home energy audit online or by phone.
Each of us can, in some way, participate in sustainable energy consumption– and even save some money while helping the planet!