October is National Energy Action Month, and has been since 1991. It marks not only a national effort to highlight how central energy is to our national prosperity, security, and environmental well-being, it is also a time to re-focus our own efforts on ways we can conserve and use less energy in our daily lives.
Even though Texas is still a leading producer of fossil fuels, it is also an important generator and user of renewable energies. For instance:
- Texas is the state that produces the most renewable energy in terms of sheer quantity.
- Texas leads the nation in wind-powered generation capacity with more than 18,500 megawatts, more than most countries.
- In 2014 and 2015, Texas windturbines produced more electricity than the state’s two nuclear
- The city of Georgetown, Texas has switched to only renewable energy because it costs less and isn’t as ‘up-and-down’ as oil and gas prices.
Not only is Texas on the leading edge of renewable energy production, the amount of energy Texans use is going down.
Experts think one reason is that technologies available to us are becoming more efficient, from things like LED light bulbs to ENERGY STAR appliances. We’re also changing lifestyle habits, like turning off lights, adding insulation to our homes and unplugging ‘energy vampires’ like computers and other appliances when not in use.
Direct Energy, one of Houston’s leading energy companies wants you and their customers to use less of what they sell. Energy can be a mysterious commodity. We all use it, yet it’s not often clear as to how our usage converts into what we pay. That’s why they’ve put together a robust Learning Center featuring educational content for a range of home-related topics including improvement, maintenance and safety, extreme weather preparation, green living, and the ins and outs of creating a modern, smart home.
To help customers reduce their use and save on their monthly bill, Direct Energy built Direct Your Energy, a suite of customized tools to help customers see and understand their energy usage via heat maps, energy insights charts, home comparison tools and usage alerts. Beyond providing their customers with usage tools, Direct Energy rewards customers for reducing their use during specified times throughout the summer, through their Reduce Your Use rewards program. This past summer they awarded almost 10,000 customers over $70,000 in rewards!
Getting in on the Action
During Energy Action Month, businesses, schools, and city and state government facilities are taking steps to increase awareness of energy use. Even the military is getting in on the action, with several branches posting websites with ways to reduce energy use both on the base and in the barracks.
You can take action as well in your home and community. For starters, Direct Energy has 25 suggestions for “reducing your use” at home. You can see the entire list here, but a few good examples include:
Save on your water bill.
- Showering uses less water than bathing
- Install a low-flow shower head.
- Put a water-filled bottle or a couple of bricks inside the toilet tank to cut the amount of water used per flush.
- Check your water meter periodically to monitor for leaky plumbing.
- After watering your shrubs, trees and gardens, use mulch to retain moisture.
Save energy at every meal.
- Limit the number of times you open the refrigerator and the oven.
- Use as few burners as possible, and use the right pot so you’re not heating up empty space.
- Only run the dishwasher when it’s completely full, and let the dishes air dry instead of running the drying cycle, which consumes a lot of energy.
Decorate your home for energy efficiency.
- Window treatments can be used to let natural light (and heat) into your rooms during colder months, or block out additional heat in the summer.
- During the winter, have light blankets or throws in warm colors and fabrics available to cuddle up with instead of turning up the heat.
- Ceiling fans can help keep a room feeling cooler with less A/C.
Lower your carbon footprint.
- Cut down on driving. Walk, take public transportation or carpool when possible.
- If you do have to drive, try to fit all of your errands into one trip, reducing the need to go back home only to start the car and go back out again.
- Pay your bills online to reduce paper use.
- Eat locally grown foods that don’t have to be shipped by truck for hundreds of miles.
Learn it One Month, Use it for 12.
Even though Energy Action Month takes place just once a year, it’s a great time to read up on – and implement – energy efficient ideas that, over the course of a year, can become habits that save you a surprising amount of money. Just search the web for “energy efficient tips” and you’ll find thousands of entries that show you just how easy it can be to power up to lower your use.
Look at it this way: switching from old energy habits to new is a little like switching from fax machines to using email. When a better technology, method or resource becomes available, it’s a good bet that people and practices will move along with the more efficient choice. So, join the movement!
Become one of the millions of Texans who have collectively cut the amount of energy used in the Lone Star State. Let’s also salute all those Texans who are helping produce more and cleaner energy from renewable sources.
Here’s wishing you a happy and productive Energy Action Month!