3 Ways to Save Energy Outdoors
Find efficiencies outsideBy Pat Keegan and Brad Thiessen
It’s summertime, and after far too many months cooped up, many North Carolinians are spending more time out in the yard, in gardens, and on decks and patios. We often use this column to discuss ways to save energy indoors, but there are ways to save outside of your home as well — here are three:
If you have security lighting, there’s a good chance you can save a little energy. Some security lights can be 500 to 1000 watts. That’s the equivalent of 40 to 80 indoor LED bulbs — quite a lot of energy! Adding timers, motion sensors and light sensors can reduce your bulb energy use. Plus, when you use your lights less often, your neighbors may appreciate a little less light pollution!
Using your oven can raise your kitchen’s temperature by up to 10 degrees, increasing the need for running your air conditioner, so grilling outdoors is a great way to save energy. If you like to grill most of your meals, you may want to consider the fuel you use. If natural gas is available, it’s usually much less expensive than propane. Natural gas is also convenient because you don’t have to refill any tanks like you would with propane. On the downside, if you don’t already have gas lines running to your patio or deck, the cost of installing them can be prohibitive.
Other fuel types, like charcoal briquettes or wood, take more preparation and can be fussy to work with, and charcoal grills emit three times as much carbon as gas grills.
Whichever fuel type you choose for your grill, you can save energy by keeping the lid closed during cooking, rather than cooking with the lid off at higher heat.
3Pumps and maintenance
Many of us have one or more pumps that service our yard or reside on our property. Pumps can supply water for a swimming pool, your lawn and garden, or your septic system or well. It’s easy to let maintenance slip, which cuts the pump’s efficiency and shortens its life.
Maintaining pumps involves cleaning the filters or checking oil and belts. If you have multiple pumps and need to hire a professional for assistance, try to do all the maintenance at once to reduce the overall cost. You may also want to consider replacing older pumps with energy efficient Energy Star®-rated ones before they break down. While you’re at it, check for leaks in the water lines, which make your pumps work harder and longer.
Hopefully these ideas will help you enjoy your outdoor living space this summer — and help you save energy!
More on LEDs, pool pumps and some grilling recipes!