The second in a series of three Green books (Got Sun? Go Solar being the first) I’ve been reading lately, Cut Your Energy Bills Now – 150 Smart Ways to Save Money and Make Your Home More Comfortable & Green by Bruce Harley, is all about the practical application. 150 ways to save energy and indirectly save money is right. The book is filled with common things that most houses can take advantage of to be more energy efficient. As somebody that has recently become a home-owner, I can really appreciate a lot of the things that this book spells out, provides directions to do, and advises on what we want to achieve with our homes.
The book chapters consist of:
- Plan Your Energy Fixes
- Lighting and Plug-Ins
- Big Appliances
- Hot Water
- Heating and Cooling
- Your Leaky House
- Windows and Doors
I was able to implement some of these tips right away (like tracking down the last incandescent light bulbs and replacing them with CFLs) and add others to the to do list (like getting high efficiency appliances as the furnace, water heater, and air conditioners are needing replacement in the next few years). Just reading the book allowed me to perform a mental inventory check of the things I should do for my house. Of course, the author understands that not everything may have a practical return-on-investment so he simply recommends, for example, that when windows do need replaced that you get as efficient ones as possible since the energy savings alone (unless you have very drafty windows) are not enough to justify the extra expenditures of replacing all your windows.
My favorite part of the books is actually all contained with in the margins of the pages. As Mr. Harley goes through the different topics held within this book, sometimes he will use a paragraph in the margins to explain relevant energy myths, assumptions people have been incorrectly making about ways to save energy. These were my favorite because I had heard a number of them and it was interesting to hear some points arguing against these long held beliefs. One of them that I remember has to do with the air conditioning and heating duct work. I’ve long thought or been told that you can save energy by closing the radiators/vents of a room that isn’t being occupied. Not so, tells the book, as closing the vents could increase the pressure in a particular piece of duct work and lead it to causing a leak in the duct work where the cool or hot air would leak out in a useless place like the crawlspace or attic.
Another favorite myth that Harley corrects is that duct tape, while useful for just about everything else, should not be used for taping ducts. How about that? Instead, he recommends that you use duct-sealing mastic if you need to seal a duct. Along with the energy myths on the side were more quick tips about different ways to save energy or tricks you might use while trying to implement some of these energy-saving changes. One memorable energy tip points out the hidden cost of having an aquarium. An aquarium that requires heating the water for the fish is number 10 of large electricity consuming appliances. The energy tip is to seek out cold water fish instead.
Throughout the book there are also very helpful diagrams and how-tos. Here’s an example of one of the diagrams that explains how Ghost drafts might occur even with no leaks around a window.
The book also shares resources like:
- How you can recycle CFLs easily with Energy Federation Incorporated (and find many other resources on their site)
- Learn about appliance efficiency and proper sizing at cooloff.org
- and many more.
I would recommend Cut Your Energy Bills Now – 150 Smart Ways to Save Money and Make Your Home More Comfortable & Green by Bruce Harley to any homeowner who wants to make an effort to at least get the low hanging fruits of home energy efficiency or even just take an inventory of their home to find out where they lay. It was a very educational and easy to read book. Since the reader should directly benefit from the knowledge shared within the pages, it is surprisingly easy to remain motivated in reading it and the book’s light, informative style complements that.