Some EnergySmart Building Tips

1. Get a low-cost energy audit and implement as many of the recommendations as possible (see http://www.xcelenergy.com/XLWEB/CDA/0,3080,1-1-2_738_9855-217-5_449_778-0,00.html; call Xcel at 800 895-4999, or contact your local natural gas or electric utility if you are not an Xcel Energy customer).

2. Replace all of your frequently-used incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). CFLs use only 25% to 30% as much electricity, provide as much light, last much longer than incandescents and can be found in styles that work in virtually any application, including recessed can light fixtures, outdoor floodlights, dimmable fixtures, three-way lamps, etc. (See http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=cfls.pr_cfls, or order bulbs online from Xcel Energy at http://www.xcelenergy.com/XLWEB/CDA/0,3080,1-1-2_738_9850-363-5_449_778-0,00.html.)

3. Choose only Energy Star lights and appliances, including heating and cooling equipment (http://www.energystar.gov), and choose from among the BEST Energy Star appliances. (For example, one can buy Energy Star clothes washers of comparable capacity – about 3.3 cubic feet — that use anywhere from about 4,900 gallons of water per year to over 9,000 gallons per year.)

4. Use a programmable thermostat to keep your home at 55 to 60 degrees while you sleep and your home is empty during the day (or simply adjust it manually). The lower the temperature, the more you save.

5. During the heating season, open the blinds or shades on the south side of your home on sunny days for passive solar gain (and on the east side during the morning and the west side in the afternoon). Close all blinds and shades at night to reduce heat loss.

6. Manage your home to minimize solar gain on hot summer days: close blinds and shades on the east side of your home in the morning, and the west side in the afternoon.

7. Use low-flow shower heads to reduce water consumption and water-heating costs. (See http://www.eere.energy.gov/consumer/your_home/water_heating/index.cfm/mytopic=13050.)

8. Install water-saving toilet(s) in your home, such as the dual flush Caroma (http://www.naturalbuilthome.com/index.php?page=shop.browse&category_id=139&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=38) or the pressure-flush Flushmate (http://www.flushmate.com/index.asp).

9. Once you’ve made your new (or existing) home as energy-efficient as you feel is economically possible, consider installing solar water-heating equipment, solar electric (photovoltaic) and/or a small wind system to get as close as possible to zero net purchased energy (http://www.eere.energy.gov/buildings/info/documents/pdfs/35317.pdf). (For information on home-scale solar systems, start at http://www.state.mn.us/portal/mn/jsp/content.do?subchannel=-536881511&programid=536885396&id=-536881350&agency=Commerce&sp2=y , and for info on small wind systems, see http://www.windustry.org/SmallWind/default.htm.)

10. Buy green power (http://www.eere.energy.gov/greenpower/buying/buying_power.shtml?state=MN) to offset all of your electricity use. Xcel Energy’s Windsource program (http://www.xcelenergy.com/XLWEB/CDA/0,3080,1-1-2_735_11612-3320-5_449_778-0,00.html) will cost you an additional $0.02 per kWh, but you will actually pay only about $0.01 per kWh on average because you will not be assessed the fuel adjustment charge (since wind power requires no purchased fuel).