How do you save energy?

Opinion Club

Opinion Club

January 27, 2008

In the wake of the Allegheny Power bulb-for-all, we asked members of The Herald-Mail's Opinion Club how they are cutting back on electricity - and if they felt it was an important idea. Below are some selected responses. Residents interested in becoming members of the Opinion Club may e-mail

In our home we use the sun. Our house is oriented with large, southern-facing, light-gathering windows with curtains on pivots where they can open to gather heat and light on sunny days and close on those that are cloudy. We have a wood/oil furnace and we super-insulated when we built, which included the outside of the foundation and under concrete floors.

We try to live every day to conserve the use of energy, not just to save money, but to realize that the oil and gas we consume, as well as everything we burn, adds to the carbon load in the atmosphere.


If Americans conserve energy just for the purpose of saving money, it won't work. If we buy big cars when gas prices go down and little cars when the price goes up, it will not work. To turn ourselves around and stop our wasting ways, we need to conserve energy for the good of the planet, and not just our pocketbook.

- Bud Ingersoll

Install CFLs throughout the house, read by daylight and bathe Mildred the cat less frequently.

- Don Day

We've already replaced most of our light bulbs (inside and out) with the spiral bulbs and find them to be satisfactory. This summer we added a room to the house, and had it and the attic on the old house insulated with closed-cell foam insulation. The installer said it would pay for itself in five years; I'm projecting that it will be three years. We had a new energy-efficient furnace installed. Next year we plan to have a hot-water heater added to the furnace; no sense in paying for electricity when the furnace is running and heating water anyway. We're also planning to replace the old storm windows with low-E windows.

With the foam insulation, even with adding about 25 percent to the living space of the house, we've seen a drop in the kilowatt-hours used compared to prior years. The house is much more comfortable, too.

- Polly Schofield

Being a good, energy-conserving citizen is much like loving your neighbor as yourself - you have good days and bad days.

In 1987, when we moved into our all-electric house, we purchased a wood stove, oriented it toward the basement stairs and removed the door to the dining room. We saved one-third on our heating bill. Twenty years later, we're on our third stove, we've lost our wood-stacking teenagers and the price of wood is out of sight - but we're still saving one-third on our heating bill.

Taking advantage of federal energy tax credits, we've replaced our first-floor windows (seeing daylight between the glass and the frame is a sure sign of energy loss), our toilets and our washer and dryer. Our latest project was installing a fiberglass-core front door that doesn't even need a storm door.

Now if we can just remember to turn off the oven after dinner and turn off the lights when we leave the room ...

- Marilyn Janus

While everyone should use measures to conserve energy not only to save money, but also to reduce the global warming, the decision as to what measures to use is not as easy as screwing in a new light bulb. People need to consider both their heating source and housing situation. If you are in a house that you own and plan to be there for a few years, then significant energy efficiency investments make sense. Most of the energy that leaks from a house goes through windows and the roof. Installation of energy efficient windows and increased insulation in the ceiling or crawl-space under the roof will return large energy savings. However, these are major capital improvements and should undertaken with the idea that you plan to be in this house for at least a few years.

Other less costly items include replacing the caulking or winter-sealing windows with plastic during the heating season, buying a cover for the water heater, use of a programmable thermostat to lower the heat during the day if unoccupied or at night, or simply open the drapes to take advantage of sunlight during the day.

- Fred Hoover

Unfortunately, the history in America says that we will not respond beyond our own selfish nature. We follow a free market myth that people will do the right thing. If the power companies start charging a surcharge for electrical usage over the, let's say, 2005 usage, people will buy low-power-usage bulbs, forgo the high-energy-using plasma TVs, etc. The only "self interest" that people respond to is their wallets.

- Bob and Earlene Ayrer

We already are using methods to cut back on the use of electricity for the good of the country, as well as our pocketbooks. We take shorter showers, use the energy saving light bulbs (which we bought on our own before we received the "free ones") and we use a wood stove for heating. In the summer I hope to have a clothesline to hang my clothes out.

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