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Getting By With Less: A Few Good Ideas For Off-The-Grid Energy And Resource Preservation

When we hear buzzwords and phrases like “energy-efficient,” “sustainable,” “repurposing,” or “green design,” all we are really talking about is a bunch of fancy labels that mean “learning how to make do with less.”  Yes, it is true: Phrases like these have been badly overused and weighed down with a lot of politically correct, hyper-environmentalist baggage. But whether you are a Sierra Club do-gooder or a down-to-earth Wise Use advocate, learning how to use fewer resources without making any real sacrifices in your overall quality of living is a good thing, pure and simple, and observing the principles behind these clichés is what has made going off the grid a viable and practical choice for a growing multitude of hardy individuals.

Thankfully, learning to get by with less does not always require a heavy investment of time or expense. While putting in a solar photovoltaic power system, designing your new home to maximize natural lighting, or purchasing a fleet of new Energy Star appliances could represent wise expenditures in the long run, there are steps you can take to improve your resource utilization efficiency that won’t cost you a finger and a toe, let alone an arm and a leg. Sometimes you do have to spend money to make money (or to save it), but a lot of other times it is just a matter of paying attention to details so you can correct all the little mistakes you are making that are bleeding you dry of money and precious resources.

Maximum Indoor Comfort, Minimum Energy Waste

Staying cool in the summer and warm in the winter can tax your power resources to the limit. Outside of going off the grid in Hawaii, the Fiji Islands, or some other perpetually moderate climate, there is really no way to avoid this reality completely, but there are some simple things you can do to make sure you are cooling or heating your home in a way that minimizes waste and inefficiency. Here are just a few ideas for you to consider:

Harness the power of the sun for your energy needs… [6]

Energy-Efficiency Through Effective Appliance Management

Refrigerators, ovens, and hot water heaters are all big-time energy consumers, and no matter what kind of power source you rely on, any fine-tuning you can do that will increase the energy-efficiency of these machines is a positive thing for sure. Energy-saving models may be the way to go if you are getting ready to purchase something new, but regardless of what type of appliances you have in your home right now, it is clearly in your best interest to get the most out of them that you possibly can.



Hot Water Heaters

Keeping It Clean

If you want to make sure that each and every power-consuming and/or producing appliance and device is giving you the bang for your buck that you expect, here is a piece of advice that you can’t afford to ignore: keep everything clean!

Just like the funniest stand-up comedians, machines that use energy work better when they work clean, and it is up to you to make sure that you dust, vacuum, wipe, and scrub everything you have so it doesn’t become plugged, corroded, rusted, clogged, or stuck. Filters in humidifiers, vacuums, furnaces, dehumidifiers, and oven exhaust hoods should be cleaned monthly at the very least, and you definitely need to get behind and underneath your refrigerator to get all the dust that will collect on the condenser coils and on the motor. Wood-burning stoves and furnaces can get extremely dirty [13] and may need professional intervention if they are not emptied and cleaned out frequently (like every other month), and electronic devices like computers and television sets are notorious dust hogs and can bog down quickly if you do not clean them weekly. And don’t forget to regularly vacuum out your vents and registers, because the dust bunnies that collect there can plug them up and inhibit air flow from your heating system significantly.

To sum it all up, you need to clean, and clean, and clean, and clean everything, and then after you are all finished you should clean it all again just for good measure. You would be surprised at how inefficient appliances and other power-drawing machines and gadgets can become when they are allowed to become dirty and dusty, which is why their care and maintenance requires a proactive approach.

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