How much can replacing your old fridge save you on energy costs?

I was at my friend’s house for her three-year-old’s birthday party the other day.

Theme: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Snacks: Pizza (of course)

Drinks: ...

Tagged: energy star, fridge, refrigerator, rebates, energy efficient, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

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How much can replacing your old fridge save you on energy costs?

Replacing your old fridge can save you money

If your fridge is more than 10 years old, you could save more than $200 over the next five years by replacing it with a new ENERGY STAR approved one.

Key Points

  • Replacing an old fridge can save you money on your utilities.
  • If your fridge is more than 10 years old, it could save you $270 over the next five years on energy costs.
  • Many utilities also offer rebates for recycling your old model. 

I was at my friend’s house for her three-year-old’s birthday party the other day.

Theme: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Snacks: Pizza (of course)

Drinks: Sewer slime (don’t ask)

Activities: Getting all the bad guys

Discussion: Refrigerators

As the parents gathered in the kitchen to escape the mayhem, my friends started talking about how they want to replace their old fridge with a new one, and that hopefully the energy savings would pay off.

So, in the spirit of the Turtles, here’s an Energy Ninja analysis:

  • According to the Department of Energy, if your fridge is more than 10 years old, you could save $270 over the next five years by replacing it with a new ENERGY STAR approved one.
  • To make the deal even sweeter, many utilities offer rebates for recycling your old one. Make sure to talk with your utility about local offers. Or, as the Splinter would say “never pay full price for a pizza, or leave rebate money on the table.”
  • Some new features aren’t the most efficient. The good-ol’ freezer on top, fridge on the bottom models generally use less energy than the side-by-side or freezer on the bottom ones. Features like ice makers and water dispensers add to the energy load too.
  • Don’t buy more fridge than you need. Unless you really do have four Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the house, you could benefit from a smaller – and more efficient – model.

And now the next time you find yourself hiding from a band of toddler ninja turtles, you’ll know exactly what to talk about in your kitchen hideout. Cowabunga dudes.


Sarah FolslandSarah is mom to the two cutest little girls in the entire world. Before choosing to make changing diapers and reading bed time stories her full time gig, she earned an M.A. in Political Science from The University of South Dakota, worked in the Governor’s Office as a policy analyst and dabbled in communications at her local utility. Follow Sarah on Twitter @EnergyMommy.

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This art might solve California’s drought problem and save energy

Imagine a huge tube that cleans ocean water, runs on solar energy, has a spa and is a piece of art. No, I haven’t been hanging out in Colorado. This is a real thing.

A ...

Tagged: The Pipe, water, energy efficient

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This art might solve California’s drought problem and save energy

Pacific coast

"The Pipe's" magnetic field design uses less energy than traditional reverse osmosis, making it easier to be self-sustaining by using solar energy.

Key Points

  • Engineers designed a pipe that turns ocean water into drinking water.
  • It’s also energy efficient and runs on solar power.
  • If that’s not enough, they also include a spa inside with salt baths. 

Imagine a huge tube that cleans ocean water, runs on solar energy, has a spa and is a piece of art. No, I haven’t been hanging out in Colorado. This is a real thing.

A group from Khalili Engineers developed the design. The traditional way of taking salt out of the ocean water -- reverse osmosis -- requires a lot of energy. The process forces water through filters to clean it, and pushing that water through the plant is energy intensive. This pipe’s design uses a magnetic field instead.

"We're just addressing the salt," Abdolaziz Khalili, part of a team from Khalili Engineers that created the design told Fast Co.Exist. "Regular ocean water has about 3 percent salt, so we're culling that 3 percent of salt out of the water rather than pushing the 97 percent that's water."

Since the magnetic field design uses less energy, it’s easier for it to be self-sustaining by using solar energy.

And while I’m all for drinking water, energy efficiency and the use of renewable resources, my favorite part of the design is the salt pool inside the pipe. Visitors could float in the salt water while surrounded by the soothing sound of ocean waves. Yes please! 


Sarah FolslandSarah is mom to the two cutest little girls in the entire world. Before choosing to make changing diapers and reading bed time stories her full time gig, she earned an M.A. in Political Science from The University of South Dakota, worked in the Governor’s Office as a policy analyst and dabbled in communications at her local utility. Follow Sarah on Twitter @EnergyMommy.

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Three (more) reasons to fire up your grill this weekend

It’s hard to beat the flavor of pretty much anything cooked on a grill. But if you need even more motivation to become a grill master, consider how energy efficient outdoor cooking ...

Tagged: energy efficient, grill, heat, air conditioning

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Three (more) reasons to fire up your grill this weekend

It's Grill Time!

Your summer cooking can be energy efficient -- and extra tasty.

Key Points

  • Grilling is a great way to save energy.
  • No dishes means no energy spent running the dishwasher or heating water.
  • It keeps the heat outside instead of warming your house with the oven. 

It’s hard to beat the flavor of pretty much anything cooked on a grill. But if you need even more motivation to become a grill master, consider how energy efficient outdoor cooking is.

Here are three reasons to fire up the grill this weekend:

  1. It beats the stovetop or oven — Grills use less energy to run than their indoor competitors.
  2. It keeps the heat outside — Your air conditioner will thank you for not filling the kitchen with hot oven air.
  3. Less cleanup saves energy too — Grilling frees you up from washing the pots and pans you’d use for an oven-baked meal, saving the energy you’d spend to run the dishwasher or heat water.

If you’re still not convinced, check out these grilling tips from our friends at www.projectevolve.com. Pizza on the grill? These are my kind of people.


Sarah FolslandSarah is mom to the two cutest little girls in the entire world. Before choosing to make changing diapers and reading bed time stories her full time gig, she earned an M.A.in Political Science from The University of South Dakota, worked in the Governor’s Office as a policy analyst and dabbled in communications at her local utility. Follow Sarah on Twitter @EnergyMommy.

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New way to finance your home energy-efficiency project

Homestyle. It’s not just code for “lots of butter and, if you’re lucky, some gravy” on your local diner’s menu. It’s the name of a new loan program through Fannie Mae ...

Tagged: energy efficient, Energy Efficiency, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, mortgage, loan

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New way to finance your home energy-efficiency project

Glass piggy bank

A new loan program is designed to finance energy-efficiency improvements to your home.

Key Points

  • Fannie Mae has a new program to finance energy-efficiency projects.
  • It’s a loan program that uses long-term mortgage money.
  • Improvements can reduce energy bills and increase home value. 

Homestyle. It’s not just code for “lots of butter and, if you’re lucky, some gravy” on your local diner’s menu. It’s the name of a new loan program through Fannie Mae designed to finance energy-efficiency improvements to your home.

HomeStyle Energy Mortgage is designed to get you a low interest rate and long-term mortgage money for improvements like installing solar panels, replacing leaky windows and doors, replacing HVAC systems or adding insulation. You can even use the loan to pay off energy-related debt you might be carrying on a credit card or home equity credit line.

Here’s the fine print:

  • Owners can borrow no more than 15 percent of the as-completed appraised value of the home for energy upgrades.
  • Portion of the loan amount designated for these improvements must be placed into an escrow account overseen by the lender.
  • Appraiser must determine the as-completed, enhanced valuation of the property to be expected after the improvements and verify that they were completed.
  • For upgrades costing more than $3,500 in total, an energy efficiency analysis is required.

Don’t forget about Freddie.

Freddie Mac has energy-financing too. Freddie spokesman Brad German told the Washington Post that its loans have some key advantages over Fannie’s program: There is no cap on the percentage of as-completed appraised value that can go for energy improvements. There is no mandatory residential home energy report. And Freddie’s maximum debt-to-income limit for borrowers is 45 percent, vs. Fannie’s 38 percent.

Whether you choose Freddie, Fannie or another financing option, make sure to do your projects right. Here’s a great link with helpful tips on where to start your home energy-efficiency projects. 


Sarah FolslandSarah is mom to the two cutest little girls in the entire world. Before choosing to make changing diapers and reading bed time stories her full time gig, she earned an M.A.in Political Science from The University of South Dakota, worked in the Governor’s Office as a policy analyst and dabbled in communications at her local utility. Follow Sarah on Twitter @EnergyMommy.

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Energy efficiency is a big deal, and here’s why

If you had to choose between paying your utility bill or putting food on the table, what would you choose?

Far too many households have to make that decision each month. ...

Tagged: Energy Efficiency, affordable energy, income, energy efficient

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Energy efficiency is a big deal, and here’s why

Family financial struggles

Heating and cooling costs are up to three times more expensive for low-income households than for higher-income households.

Key Points

  • Experts define affordable energy as 6 percent of total gross household income.
  • Lower-income households tend to pay a higher percentage of household income.
  • Those households might have higher costs because of a lack of access to energy-efficiency solutions.

If you had to choose between paying your utility bill or putting food on the table, what would you choose?

Far too many households have to make that decision each month. A new study looked into why this happens, and the answer might surprise you.

The Renewable Energy Transition team found that many lower-income households fall into energy poverty, which means that they have to spend about 10 percent of their income on energy-related studies. That’s much more than middle-to-upper-income households that only spend 5 percent — or as little as 1 percent.

Why the big difference? Access to energy-efficient homes.

Here’s how the researchers put it in an article in The Atlantic:

“Lower incomes, less efficient housing, and limited access to energy efficiency programs can explain the higher energy burdens faced by these groups,” the authors wrote. “We found that even though these families paid less overall on energy bills, they paid more per square foot, which indicates the relative inefficiency of their homes.”

That reasoning is confirmed by data from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. They found that heating and cooling costs are up to three times more expensive for low-income households than for higher-income households.

Which brings us back to the question: Would you choose food or heat? Here’s to rededicating our efforts to making sure no one has to make that decision.


Sarah FolslandSarah is mom to the two cutest little girls in the entire world. Before choosing to make changing diapers and reading bed time stories her full time gig, she earned an M.A.in Political Science from The University of South Dakota, worked in the Governor’s Office as a policy analyst and dabbled in communications at her local utility. Follow Sarah on Twitter @EnergyMommy.

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First-world problems: paper towels versus electric hand dryers

Sometimes, we talk about how energy is saving lives. How access to reliable electricity can be the difference between life and death. Or we touch on how keeping energy affordable ...

Tagged: energy efficient, paper towel, electric hand dryer

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First-world problems: paper towels versus electric hand dryers

Paper towels vs hand dryers

I’m sure you have a preference between using a paper towel and using an electric hand dryer. But did you ever wonder which option is more energy efficient?

Key Points

  • We have first-world problems.
  • Which is better — paper towels or electric hand dryers?
  • In general, hand dryers are the more efficient option. 

Sometimes, we talk about how energy is saving lives. How access to reliable electricity can be the difference between life and death. Or we touch on how keeping energy affordable can help make ends meet for families nationwide.

And other times, we choose to talk about how to dry your hands in the restroom.

This is one of those days. Welcome to our first-world problems.

I’m sure you have a preference between using a paper towel and using an electric hand dryer. I personally usually hope for paper towels because most loud electric hand dryers scare the bejeebas out of my daughters.

But did you ever wonder which option is more energy efficient? One produces paper waste. The other uses electricity.

Luckily, some folks over at Slate looked into it. Long story short, when you have a choice, use the fan. Electric fans reduce waste. They use electricity, but energy needed to dry your hands is much, much less than all the energy needed to create a paper towel (think equipment needed to cut trees, process to manufacture and ship the product, etc.).

Just don’t spend too much time patting yourself on the back. As Slate puts it, “the net difference in long-term carbon emissions is minuscule at best.” So use the fan. And then turn off a light, unplug an electric device you’re not using, and adjust your thermostat. 


Sarah FolslandSarah is mom to the two cutest little girls in the entire world. Before choosing to make changing diapers and reading bed time stories her full time gig, she earned an M.A.in Political Science from The University of South Dakota, worked in the Governor’s Office as a policy analyst and dabbled in communications at her local utility. Follow Sarah on Twitter @EnergyMommy.

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This magic kingdom isn’t a fantasy

Once upon a time, in a faraway kingdom, there was a city that needed more space for its citizens. So the queen asked her best and brightest to come up with a solution.

The ...

Tagged: Paris, energy efficient, renewable energy, geothermal, wind energy, solar

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This magic kingdom isn’t a fantasy

Floating village in the middle of a forest

Architects are calling a new, energy-efficient building in Paris “a floating village in the middle of a forest.”

Key Points

  • Paris will soon be home to a “floating village in the middle of a forest”.
  • The new building will act as a pedestrian bridge and contain homes, apartments, restaurants and office space.
  • It’s energy efficient and uses renewable energy. 

Once upon a time, in a faraway kingdom, there was a city that needed more space for its citizens. So the queen asked her best and brightest to come up with a solution.

The queen was not disappointed. A knight (rumored to wear shining armor) delivered a castle that boasted an indoor forest, space for both princes and paupers to rest their weary heads, areas to hold feasts fit for a king, and a daycare facility.

Sound like a fairytale? Other than the queen bit, it’s totally true (yes, even the daycare). And it’s happening in Paris. The building’s architects are calling it “a floating village in the middle of a forest.” The roof is covered with trees that keep wasted energy from escaping. The building will use solar, wind and geothermal energy. The structure will act as a pedestrian bridge and contain single-family homes, apartments, offices and restaurants.

Pending a never-ending winter, takeover from a wicked stepmother or a poison apple outbreak, construction should be completed around 2021.


Sarah FolslandSarah is mom to the two cutest little girls in the entire world. Before choosing to make changing diapers and reading bed time stories her full time gig, she earned an M.A.in Political Science from The University of South Dakota, worked in the Governor’s Office as a policy analyst and dabbled in communications at her local utility. Follow Sarah on Twitter @EnergyMommy.

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Corporate kilowatt karma: General Mills

A lot of my favorite companies are doing big things to save energy. In the next few weeks, we’ll look at a few industry rock stars banking on some good kilowatt karma to help their ...

Tagged: Corporate kilowatt karma, General Mills, Thanksgiving, energy efficient

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Corporate kilowatt karma: General Mills

Pillsbury pie crust

General Mills is working toward 20 percent energy savings over 10 years in 25 manufacturing plants. Two years into setting the goal, they’ve saved 6 percent.

Key Points

  • General Mills has some good kilowatt karma.
  • Your Thanksgiving was probably a little more green thanks to the company’s energy efficiency efforts.
  • One plant in Iowa is saving 23 percent in energy use each year.

A lot of my favorite companies are doing big things to save energy. In the next few weeks, we’ll look at a few industry rock stars banking on some good kilowatt karma to help their bottom line and do some good for the Earth.

Look around your Thanksgiving table, and you probably have at least one, if not several, items from General Mills. Green Giant green beans. Pillsbury rolls. Gold Medal flour in the pie crust. Cheerios. (I have a picky eater. Don’t judge me!)

The company was recognized by the Department of Energy this year for “its leadership in pursuing energy savings through innovative technologies.” That’s government talk for “they’re doing cool stuff to use less energy.”

Specifically, General Mills is working toward 20 percent energy savings over 10 years in 25 manufacturing plants. Two years into setting the goal, they’ve saved 6 percent.

One of the company’s all-star plants is in Cedar Rapids. That plant is saving 23 percent in energy use each year. That’s about $4.3 million. Hello! Most of those savings come from a heat recovery project that uses “free” waste heat to prepare ingredients. It also saves about 2.2 million gallons of water and about 5,500 tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year.

Thanks for saving energy, General Mills! And for producing an organic bunny-shaped cheese cracker. I don’t feel nearly as guilty for eating an entire box when I know it came from ingredients grown by fair-trade farmers.  


Sarah FolslandSarah is mom to the two cutest little girls in the entire world. Before choosing to make changing diapers and reading bed time stories her full time gig, she earned an M.A.in Political Science from The University of South Dakota, worked in the Governor’s Office as a policy analyst and dabbled in communications at her local utility. Follow Sarah on Twitter @EnergyMommy.

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Two weeks to Thanksgiving – Is your fridge ready?

If you’ve left your house since Halloween, you’re probably under the impression that Christmas is here. The decorations are popping up everywhere. I even spotted some egg nog ...

Tagged: Thanksgiving, fridge, energy efficient, holiday

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Two weeks to Thanksgiving – Is your fridge ready?

Turkey Day is the Super Bowl of eating. Make sure your fridge is ready for game day.

Key Points

  • Thanksgiving is just around the corner.
  • Make sure your fridge is ready for the big day.
  • Keep it full, keep it clean, and keep your food covered to make your fridge more energy efficient.

If you’ve left your house since Halloween, you’re probably under the impression that Christmas is here. The decorations are popping up everywhere. I even spotted some egg nog coffee creamer at the store. But before you break out your favorite Michael Buble Christmas album, take time to savor Thanksgiving first.

After all, Turkey Day is the Super Bowl of eating. Make sure your fridge is ready for game day. Here are a few tips to ensure those turkey leftovers stay fresh as efficiently as possible.

Keep it full.

Good news for your leftovers. Cramming the cranberries and chestnut stuffing into your fridge actually helps it work more efficiently. It has to work harder to cool empty spaces. Bonus tip: make sure your leftovers have cooled to room temperature before stashing them in the fridge so it doesn’t have to offset their heat. Just make sure the turkey doesn’t stay out too long for food safety.

Keep it clean.

When’s the last time you checked behind your fridge for dust? Yeah, me too. But even though it takes a little extra muscle, it’s worth the effort. While you’re back there, make sure your fridge is at least two inches away from the wall to allow for air circulation.

Keep it covered.

Don’t skip the lid on your food storage.  For one, your food will dry out. Yuck. For two, the food will contribute to the moisture in the fridge air, forcing your fridge to use extra energy to remove the added humidity.

In the market for a new fridge? Consider getting an ENERGY STAR certified one to save even more energy. And here’s a breakdown of just how much that extra fridge in the garage is costing you.


Sarah FolslandSarah is mom to the two cutest little girls in the entire world. Before choosing to make changing diapers and reading bed time stories her full time gig, she earned an M.A.in Political Science from The University of South Dakota, worked in the Governor’s Office as a policy analyst and dabbled in communications at her local utility. Follow Sarah on Twitter @EnergyMommy.

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‘This store uses how much energy?’

A new invention may save half a billion dollars in energy costs every year.

An energy-efficient fan is now on the market, and grocers are hoping that it will significantly ...

Tagged: grocery store, Q-Sync, energy efficient, refrigeration, Department of Energy, Energy Department

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‘This store uses how much energy?’

Little girls at the grocery store

Grocers are hoping an energy-efficient fan will significantly reduce their refrigeration costs.

Key Points

  • Grocery stores use lots of energy.
  • A new invention may help stores save on refrigeration costs.
  • Small changes can lead to big savings. 

A new invention may save half a billion dollars in energy costs every year.

An energy-efficient fan is now on the market, and grocers are hoping that it will significantly reduce their refrigeration costs. Keeping all that food cool uses a lot of energy, so this is a big deal for grocery stores. 

The Department of Energy designated the new fan an “emerging energy-saving technology.” It was invented by Joe Flynn, co-founder and chief technology officer of QM Power. The Q-Sync motor saves energy by stripping down the motor design to keep it as simple as possible while still allowing it to get the job done.

According to Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, grocery stores are responsible for 9 percent of the total energy consumed by commercial buildings in the U.S. A single large commercial freezer can use up to 38,000 kilowatt-hours of power annually. 

In addition to installing new energy efficient fans like the Q-Sync, grocery stores can save energy by making simple changes to how they display food and what lights they use.

Is your store energy efficient? If not, here’s a helpful resource if you want to lobby to make your vegetables more green.

I know two little cuties who will join your team.  



Sarah FolslandSarah is mom to the two cutest little girls in the entire world. Before choosing to make changing diapers and reading bed time stories her full time gig, she earned an M.A.in Political Science from The University of South Dakota, worked in the Governor’s Office as a policy analyst and dabbled in communications at her local utility. Follow Sarah on Twitter @EnergyMommy.

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Sarah’s Surprise Attack Savings – The Garage

What do you use your garage for? A workshop? A craft room with aisles of color-coordinated paper, stickers, ribbon and hot glue guns that is the envy of every Pinterest mom in the ...

Tagged: Surprise Attack Savings, energy efficient, garage

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Sarah’s Surprise Attack Savings – The Garage

Garage

Take John's advice and make your garage more energy efficient.

Key Points

  • The garage is an overlooked place to save some energy.
  • If you use it more for hobbies than, oh say, parking your car, think about insulating it.
  • Experts recommend in-floor heat. 

What do you use your garage for? A workshop? A craft room with aisles of color-coordinated paper, stickers, ribbon and hot glue guns that is the envy of every Pinterest mom in the tri-state region? (You know who you are).

If that’s the case, you might want to consider going energy efficient with the space. No one likes to scrapbook in the cold.

I attacked John Bates, owner of JIII Construction, on the job site of a garage expansion the other day. I’ve attacked him before. He’s very understanding and even turned down the “No Doubt” he and the crew were listening to (busted).

Here’s his advice:

 



Sarah FolslandSarah is mom to the two cutest little girls in the entire world. Before choosing to make changing diapers and reading bed time stories her full time gig, she earned an M.A.in Political Science from The University of South Dakota, worked in the Governor’s Office as a policy analyst and dabbled in communications at her local utility. Follow Sarah on Twitter @EnergyMommy.

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It’s your day to be a star

I don’t want to brag, but I’m kind of a big deal. I’m a star. An ENERGYstar.

OK, so maybe all you have to do to become an ENERGYstar is print a door hanger, but considering ...

Tagged: energy star, energy efficient

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It’s your day to be a star

Star at night

If you want to take your stardom up a notch, you can make an ENERGYstar pledge.

Key Points

  • ENERGYstar Day is coming up October 27.
  • You can take a pledge to do energy efficient things, like change light bulbs and such.
  • Can I have your autograph? 

I don’t want to brag, but I’m kind of a big deal. I’m a star. An ENERGYstar.

OK, so maybe all you have to do to become an ENERGYstar is print a door hanger, but considering my home office technical difficulties and the fact that I had to hunt down a blank piece of paper from my 3-year-old’s art supplies, I consider that a major accomplishment. Also, don’t get me started on the wrath of a toddler who doesn’t want to share her art supplies. I tried to explain that I needed it to change the world, but that had nothing on her Picasso plans.

If you want to take your stardom up a notch (we’re talking Kardashian levels here), you can make an ENERGYstar pledge. You can resolve to do things like change a few light bulbs or purchase an energy-efficient gas water heater.

ENERGYstar day is coming up Oct. 27. Mark your calendars, and take a pledge now. Then offer your co-workers your autograph. Because you’re star, baby!


Sarah FolslandSarah is mom to the two cutest little girls in the entire world. Before choosing to make changing diapers and reading bed time stories her full time gig, she earned an M.A.in Political Science from The University of South Dakota, worked in the Governor’s Office as a policy analyst and dabbled in communications at her local utility. Follow Sarah on Twitter @EnergyMommy.

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Get inspired by the tiny house movement (even if you’re unwilling to give up your walk-in closet)

Do you ever feel buried by all your stuff? I was attempting to organize the girls’ toys the other day and was frustrated with how I’ve allowed our house to get buried in things. ...

Tagged: tiny house, save energy, energy efficient, Alliance to Save Energy

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Get inspired by the tiny house movement (even if you’re unwilling to give up your walk-in closet)

Tiny houses

With the small size comes some big energy savings.

Key Points

  • Tiny houses are getting more popular.
  • They’re efficient with space and energy use.
  • Even if you’re not ready for an extreme downsize, you can save energy like tiniest of tiny houses. 

Do you ever feel buried by all your stuff? I was attempting to organize the girls’ toys the other day and was frustrated with how I’ve allowed our house to get buried in things. Things that take up space, seldom get used and make cleaning a royal pain.

For a spit second, I had a glamorized vision of selling everything and moving our family into a tiny house. Then I realized that it would probably include downsizing my fridge, oven, washing machine and other average American home luxuries.

But if we did get on the tiny house bandwagon, we’d not only save on stuff, we’d save a lot of energy.

According to the Alliance to Save Energy, tiny houses average 100-400 square feet. Most could probably fit in the walk-in closet of the average American home that boasts around 2,600 square feet.

With the small size comes some big energy savings. On a basic level, there’s less space to heat and cool. Beyond that, many tiny homes use the latest in energy-efficiency technology like solar panels and Energy Star appliances.

I might not be ready to downsize to the tiny house extreme, but the Alliance to Save Energy says that’s OK. It believes that although tiny houses are great, it’s the little behaviors each of us make every day that will add up to a bigger change.

A few tiny house energy-efficient inspirations we can all adopt include installing LED lights, making sure our big ol’ houses are properly insulated, and actively thinking about reducing our every day consumption by turning off and unplugging the electronics we’re not using. And cleaning out unused toys never hurt anyone either. 


Sarah FolslandSarah is mom to the two cutest little girls in the entire world. Before choosing to make changing diapers and reading bed time stories her full time gig, she earned an M.A.in Political Science from The University of South Dakota, worked in the Governor’s Office as a policy analyst and dabbled in communications at her local utility. Follow Sarah on Twitter @EnergyMommy.

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NFL teams tackle green energy

My husband is a huge football fan, and he’s passing the tradition on to our daughters. Although most NFL headlines aren’t exactly positive these ...

Tagged: NFL, energy efficient, solar

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NFL teams tackle green energy

Football

The San Francisco 49ers' stadium creates enough solar energy every year to completely power the team's 10 home games every season.

Key Points

  • Many NFL teams are going green.
  • Several stadiums now have solar panels.
  • They are also using energy efficient lighting. 

My husband is a huge football fan, and he’s passing the tradition on to our daughters. Although most NFL headlines aren’t exactly positive these days, it’s stories like this that remind me this American pastime has a lot of good in it. Makes me feel a little bit better about my 3-year-old’s love of the game.

Checkout some of the great energy initiatives your favorite teams have taken on:

Lincoln Financial Field: Philadelphia Eagles

  • First professional stadium in the U.S. capable of generating its own electricity on site.
  • Largest solar-power capacity in the NFL including 11,000 solar panels and 14 micro-wind turbines.
  • Reduced electricity consumption by 33 percent.

CenturyLink Field: Seattle Seahawks

  • Uses point-of-use lighting in all restrooms, storage facilities and concession stands.
  • Only stadium in professional sports to receive the EnergyStar Portfolio Manager Partner Certification.
  • Installed 1,350 solar panels on the ring outside the stadium that produce 830,000 kWh per year.

 Levi’s Stadium: San Francisco 49ers

  • First stadium of its kind in the U.S. to receive LEED Gold Certification as a new construction building.
  • Creates enough solar energy every year to completely power the team's 10 home games every season.
  • Installed a 27,000 square foot green roof to provide insulation and reduce heating and cooling costs.

Sarah FolslandSarah is mom to the two cutest little girls in the entire world. Before choosing to make changing diapers and reading bed time stories her full time gig, she earned an M.A.in Political Science from The University of South Dakota, worked in the Governor’s Office as a policy analyst and dabbled in communications at her local utility. Follow Sarah on Twitter @EnergyMommy.

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Bring on the casserole

Labor Day has come and gone. Time to trade our outdoor barbeques for cozy casseroles (or hotdish, depending on what state you're from).

I always assumed that using my slow ...

Tagged: energy efficient, save energy, crockpot, oven

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Bring on the casserole

Caserole dish

Crockpot or oven, which appliance is the most energy efficient option?

Key Points

  • Fall is here, time for stews and casseroles.
  • Slow cookers don’t always save energy.
  • Your oven might be the more energy efficient option. 

Labor Day has come and gone. Time to trade our outdoor barbeques for cozy casseroles (or hotdish, depending on what state you're from).

I always assumed that using my slow cooker was the most energy efficient option to cook my favorite stews and one pot meals. It’s so little, it must be better than that big oven, right?

Nope.

Turns out that your oven might beat your Crockpot for energy use. The University of Connecticut looked into it. Here’s what they found:

"Crock pots run with lower energy wattage (70-250) than a conventional electric oven (2000-3000). However, while slow cookers’ heating elements stay on continuously, electric ovens cycle their elements on and off as needed to maintain temperature, often being on for only about one fourth of the actual cooking time. Assuming you would use a slow cooker on high for twice as many hours as your electric oven, the energy usage would probably come out about the same.

Total energy usage can be calculated by multiplying the wattage by your recipe’s cooking time. If you use a gas stove to cook with, it is harder to determine what the energy savings would be. Natural gas is a more efficient fuel than electricity, and the newer electric-ignition gas ranges are about 30 percent more efficient than older models that have a continuously burning pilot light. Units used to measure energy consumption are different between gas and electric energy sources so they are more difficult to compare."

Bottom line: Your slow cooker might save you energy by helping you get dinner on the table after a busy day of work, but it’s not necessarily saving you the kind of energy that comes from electrons.

Here are some great slow cooker hacks to help you prepare for casserole season. Just don’t forget to sprinkle on some cheese before serving. I don’t care what the recipe says: It’s always better with cheese.


Sarah FolslandSarah is mom to the two cutest little girls in the entire world. Before choosing to make changing diapers and reading bed time stories her full time gig, she earned an M.A.in Political Science from The University of South Dakota, worked in the Governor’s Office as a policy analyst and dabbled in communications at her local utility. Follow Sarah on Twitter @EnergyMommy.

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Now here’s something to humble brag about

I’m used to seeing Energy Star labels on things like refrigerators and lightbulbs. But did you know that you can get an Energy Star house? Yep, entire houses can earn that special ...

Tagged: energy star, energy efficient, energy star home, thermal enclosure, water management

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Now here’s something to humble brag about

Suburban neighborhood from above

Up your energy efficiency game and get your house Energy Star approved

Key Points

  • There’s such a thing as an ENERGY STAR home.
  • They’re really energy efficient.
  • If you live in an ENERGY STAR home, you should humble brag about it. 

I’m used to seeing Energy Star labels on things like refrigerators and lightbulbs. But did you know that you can get an Energy Star house? Yep, entire houses can earn that special Energy Star label.

No, you don’t have to print a gigantic logo on your siding. Unless you want to. If you achieve that status, you would probably want to humble brag about it (“My laundry has really piled up while I’ve been working on getting my house Energy Star certified.” #myhouseisgreenerthanyours).

According to Gina McCarthy, Administrator for the EPA, Energy Star homes are energy efficient from the ground up, and most go through a rigorous certification process to get the seal of approval. Here’s a glimpse of what Energy Star homes include:

  • A thermal enclosure system with comprehensive air sealing, quality-installed insulation, and high-performance windows to deliver improved comfort and lower utility bills;
  • A high-efficiency heating, ventilating and cooling system that's designed and installed for optimal performance;
  • A comprehensive water management system to protect roofs, walls and foundations from moisture damage; and
  • Energy-efficient lighting and appliances that keep utility bills low while providing better performance and longevity.

Thinking about upping your energy efficiency game and getting your house Energy Star approved? Here are a few resources to help you get started:

Now back to the humble brag. What’s the best one you’ve heard? Or maybe you’re even guilty of yourself. Please share them below.  


Sarah FolslandSarah is mom to the two cutest little girls in the entire world. Before choosing to make changing diapers and reading bed time stories her full time gig, she earned an M.A.in Political Science from The University of South Dakota, worked in the Governor’s Office as a policy analyst and dabbled in communications at her local utility. Follow Sarah on Twitter @EnergyMommy.

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The next generation of tiny houses

When my friend Hillary camps, she takes a semi-truck load of stuff along. The first I camped with her I couldn’t believe one person could own so many totes full of gear. Portable ...

Tagged: Ecocapsule, Grid, energy efficient, tiny house, wind power, solar power

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The next generation of tiny houses

Ecocapsule

If you’re looking to significantly downsize and reduce your energy bill to nearly zero, the ecocapsule might be something to consider.

Key Points

  • A new microdwelling can help you live off the grid.
  • It’s powered by wind and solar, and collects rainwater.
  • The 86-square-foot home is well insulated and energy efficient.

When my friend Hillary camps, she takes a semi-truck load of stuff along. The first I camped with her I couldn’t believe one person could own so many totes full of gear. Portable sink for washing dishes? Check. Enough dinnerware to host a family reunion at a moment’s notice? Check. Tent large enough to house the entire field of Republican presidential candidates? You better believe it. And don’t even ask about her blow up mattress and full sheet set. Interestingly, she chose to pack a pillow about the size of a postage stamp. Because a full-sized pillow would be breaking the “roughing it” camping code.

Hillary, my friend, this invention is not for you.

Architects in Slovakia have created an “egg-shaped, wind- and solar-powered microdwelling.” It would fit in Hillary’s tent’s front porch.

The tiny home is described as a “frontier dwelling” where people can live off the grid. It’s solar and wind energy can be stored for times when the sun doesn’t shine and wind doesn’t blow. The pod’s natural curves collect rainwater, and thick insulation keeps the inside at a comfortable temperature.  

Each inch of the 86-square-foot space has a purpose. The design is intended to accommodate two people with a place to sleep, dine, study and store items, and it even has a toilet and shower.

No word yet on a price, but it should be on the market later this year. If you’re looking to significantly downsize and reduce your energy bill to nearly zero, it might be something to consider.

If you decide to have a huge garage sale, let me know. I have a friend who would probably purchase the entire contents of your kitchen cabinets to round out her camping collection. 


Sarah FolslandSarah is mom to the two cutest little girls in the entire world. Before choosing to make changing diapers and reading bed time stories her full time gig, she earned an M.A.in Political Science from The University of South Dakota, worked in the Governor’s Office as a policy analyst and dabbled in communications at her local utility. Follow Sarah on Twitter @EnergyMommy.

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Three incredible ways the greenest building in the world is saving energy

Lots of new buildings have green technology these days. Things like energy efficient lighting, heating and cooling are becoming more mainstream.

The Bullitt Center in Seattle ...

Tagged: Bullitt Center, green technology, energy efficient

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Three incredible ways the greenest building in the world is saving energy

Bullitt Center

Lots of new buildings have green technology these days. Things like energy efficient lighting, heating and cooling are becoming more mainstream.

Key Points

  • Architects are thinking beyond the usual to make buildings green.
  • The Bullitt Center in Seattle earned the title “Greenest office building in the world.”
  • The building generates its own electricity, harvests all its water needs from the rain and has composting toilets. 

Lots of new buildings have green technology these days. Things like energy efficient lighting, heating and cooling are becoming more mainstream.

The Bullitt Center in Seattle went beyond those predictable energy savers to earn the title “greenest office building in the world” by the American Institute of Architects. 

  1. It harvests its own water – Bullitt is the first office building in the country to get all of its water from the rain. The building has a cistern in the basement that holds 56,000 gallons of water – enough to provide all of the building’s water needs for 100 days.
  2. It has composting toilets – The building’s toilets send waste down to the basement where it decomposes with wood and water.
  3. It produces all its energy onsite – Bullitt gets all of its energy from solar panels. That may not sound all that incredible, but when you factor in that this building is in Seattle – one of the cloudiest cities in the country – it’s a pretty big feat. The designers specifically chose solar energy for the building to show that solar is viable even in areas where you’d think it wouldn’t be an option, and hopefully inspire builders in sunnier areas of the country to use it in their designs. 

You can learn more about the building here.

Photo credit: Nic Lehoux 


Sarah FolslandSarah is mom to the two cutest little girls in the entire world. Before choosing to make changing diapers and reading bed time stories her full time gig, she earned an M.A.in Political Science from The University of South Dakota, worked in the Governor’s Office as a policy analyst and dabbled in communications at her local utility. Follow Sarah on Twitter @EnergyMommy.

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Four ways to make your computer more energy efficient

At work and at home, you probably spend a good amount of time in front of a computer monitor, likely watching this Jimmy ...

Tagged: energy efficient, computer, power strip, screen saver

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Four ways to make your computer more energy efficient

Girl on laptop

It’s hard to know when you’re stepping away from your screen if it’s best to leave it running, put it into sleep mode or turn it off altogether.

Key Points

  • Turn off your computer monitor if you’re stepping away for more than 20 minutes.
  • Shut your computer down if you aren’t using it for more than 2 hours.
  • Plug your computer and accessories into a power strip. 

At work and at home, you probably spend a good amount of time in front of a computer monitor, likely watching this Jimmy Fallon "Saved by the Bell" cast reunion. But are you making your computer as energy efficient as possible?

It’s hard to know when you’re stepping away from your screen if it’s best to leave it running, put it into sleep mode or turn it off altogether. Well, the guesswork is over. Here’s a quick guide to efficient computer use.

The 20 minute rule — According to energy.gov, if you’re aren’t going to use your computer for more than 20 minutes, go ahead and turn off the monitor.
Rethink that screen saver — Sure, it’s great to see that adorable picture of your son/daughter/puppy/cat/goldfish/marathon finish line selfie on your monitor 24/7. And yes, we’re sure your co-workers want to admire it while you’re away at a meeting (unless you’re the guy with the marathon selfie, in which case you’re just making the rest of us feel bad). But that screen saver is not an energy saver. Don’t mistake your computer going into screen saver mode as an energy saving mode. It actually takes more energy to showcase those cuties.
The two-hour rule — If you’re stepping away for at least two hours, then shut down your computer completely. The experts at energy.gov say that even though there’s a small surge of energy when you turn your computer on, it’s still less than the energy used if you just keep it running.
Use a power strip — Plug your monitors, printers, scanners and whatever other accessories you have into a power strip/surge protector. That way, if you’re not going to use them for an extended period, you can turn off the switch on the power strip. Otherwise, these devices will keep sucking energy even when turned off.  


Sarah FolslandSarah is mom to the two cutest little girls in the entire world. Before choosing to make changing diapers and reading bed time stories her full time gig, she earned an M.A.in Political Science from The University of South Dakota, worked in the Governor’s Office as a policy analyst and dabbled in communications at her local utility. Follow Sarah on Twitter @EnergyMommy.

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Sarah’s Surprise Attack Savings - At Home

In this week’s episode of Surprise Attack Savings, I got to attack someone in my own house.

Joe Youngblood from J&S Sheetmetal, Heating & Air Conditioning in ...

Tagged: energy efficient, Surprise Attack Savings, furnace, filter

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Sarah’s Surprise Attack Savings - At Home

Furnace Filter

His first priority to make my home more efficient was to check my furnace filter. When those filters get full, your furnace has to work harder to push the air through.

Key Points

  • Replace your furnace filter to make it more energy efficient.
  • Dirty ones make your furnace work harder to push the air through.
  • Experts recommend changing your filter every other month. 

In this week’s episode of Surprise Attack Savings, I got to attack someone in my own house.

Joe Youngblood from J&S Sheetmetal, Heating & Air Conditioning in Box Elder, S.D., stopped by, and I asked him what his top ways are to save energy. He works with this stuff every day, so he’s familiar with the most common mistakes when it comes to energy efficiency.

His first priority to make my home more efficient was to check my furnace filter. Here he shows step-by-step how to change your filter to keep your furnace as efficient as possible. When those filters get full, your furnace has to work harder to push the air through. He recommends changing it every other month.

Disregard the crying baby in the background. She was fine (really, Social Services, I fed her right after this interview was done. Promise).


Sarah FolslandSarah is mom to the two cutest little girls in the entire world. Before choosing to make changing diapers and reading bed time stories her full time gig, she earned an M.A.in Political Science from The University of South Dakota, worked in the Governor’s Office as a policy analyst, and dabbled in communications at her local utility. Follow Sarah on Twitter @EnergyMommy.

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