Energy prices spiked in 2011, and we're not expected to see much of a drop (if any) this year, so even if the environmental impacts of fossil fuels aren't high on your priority list, making your home more energy efficient this year will be as good for your wallet as it is for the planet.
Luckily, if you're ready to get serious about saving energy at home, there are innovations out there to help you do just that. From the roof to your windows, you can upgrade your home to save energy and money. A new GE data visualization lets you see their technological and environmental innovations through the years--including some of the most important innovations for home energy savings ever developed.
Companies like GE have been making more efficient appliances and creating ways to monitor your energy use, so that you can see where to cut back for the most savings. The tool shows how GE has consistently innovated to develop more energy-efficient products over time and lets you actually see what lifestyle changes you can make to live a greener lifestyle. Their CO2 visualization is a great example. It shows how much CO2 you generate with different aspects of your life. A good way to prioritize!
GE's data visualization allows you to visually access all of the company's annual reports since 1892. The reports show how, over time, GE has consistently innovated to develop more energy-efficient products, while also furthering the dialogue about energy efficiency. It's fun to click around and see what innovations they've focused on and where. For example, if you click on “lighting,” you can see where the company focused on lighting innovations through the years and even check out where they began focusing on energy-efficient light bulbs. A GE engineer developed the first CFL back in the 1970's, when the U.S. gas crisis was driving energy prices sky high. Sound familiar?
Ready to get saving? Here are 8 innovations that can help you save energy at home to reduce both your power bill and your environmental impact.
1. Efficient Light Bulbs
Say goodbye to wasteful incandescent bulbs. New, more efficient LED and compact fluorescent light bulbs may cost more up front, but you'll make that money back and then some with the energy you save. Not only do efficient bulbs use less energy, but they burn cooler, which means they won't be battling your air conditioner this summer. Check out this visualization on LEDs to see how much energy you'd save by making the switch (you can click the image to view it larger):
2. Cool Roofs
Light-colored or reflective roofs can reduce your cooling bills by as much as 20 percent. Unlike a traditional black roof, white or reflective roof tiles reflect the sun's heat, which means your house stays cooler in the summer.
3. Replace Your Water Heater
Your water heater can be one of the most energy-intensive things in your home, so upgrading to a more efficient heater can save you a bundle! Instead of a traditional gas or electric heater, check out a solar or hybrid hot water heater instead. A solar heater uses the sun's energy to heat your water, rather than fossil fuels, and a hybrid water heater, like this one from GE, uses a heat pump with an electric backup to heat your water without using as much power, rather than relying solely on dirty fossil fuel power from the grid.
4. Double Pane Windows
Replacing your old windows with energy-efficient ones can save you hundreds of dollars per year, depending on where you live. Have you ever stood by the window in winter and felt a draft? The double paned glass helps keep your home at a comfortable temperature by not letting out your heated or conditioned air.
5. Smart Strips
Say goodbye to energy vampires! Replace those old power strips with new smart strips. Smart strips work by setting one "control" device. When that device is off, the strip completely cuts power to all of the other devices. For example, if you set your receiver as the "control," then your TV, video game system, and DVD player will all turn off when you turn off the receiver.
6. Home Energy Management Systems
An energy management system, like the Nucleus, lets you see your energy use in real-time. You can find out where you're wasting energy at what time of day and change your habits to compensate. Maybe you didn't realize how much energy you wasted by not unplugging your microwave when it wasn't in use. Knowledge is power!
7. Energy Efficient Appliances
Large appliances, like the refrigerator and dishwasher, can be huge energy sucks. Next time you need to replace one of your appliances, choose one with an Energy Star rating instead. For example, a modern, energy-efficient refrigerator can be up to 60 percent more efficient than a fridge from 20 years ago.
8. Smart Glass Windows
If double paned glass isn't fancy enough for you, try looking into smart glass windows instead. Smart glass adjusts to either let in light and heat in winter or block out the sun's rays in summer.
This post was produced in collaboration with GE as part of the launch of their new DataViz App.
Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by trekkyandy