As individuals and families spend more time at home, there's a growing need for energy to power resources and tools that we need for school work, working remotely, cooking and recreational purposes.
October marks Energy Action Month, and during this observance, it's an opportunity to recognize how our community can save energy through efficiency and conservation.
To get the entire family involved, the City and Columbia is sharing a special activity. It's a great way to promote learning, creating and sharing.
Did you know that 10% of electric bills can come from "energy vampires," items that suck power even when not being used? Eliminating vampire power is a great way to save money on your monthly utilities.
Detecting vampire power is easy and doesn’t require any special training - just a watt-meter, such as the Kill-A-Watt energy detector.
The goal of this activity is to demonstrate the benefits of saving energy.
A book on energy. Our staff has curated a list for children and families, which is available here.
*If you are going to do this experiment, please have a parent or adult with you.
Select a title from the list and read together.
Afterwards, explain how vampire power comes from electrical items that consume power even when they’re off and not being used. Then discuss important reasons to ZAP energy vampires. (Save electricity; save money; prevent pollution; reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help create jobs.)
Pick a room to monitor for energy vampires. Start with a room that has several electrical items plugged in.
Unplug an item (TV; lamp; coffee maker; etc.). Then plug it into the Kill-A-Watt energy detector.
Plug the Kill-A-Watt energy detector into the wall with the appliance plugged into it. If your detector is displaying any energy used, you’ve located vampire power.
Repeat this process for all of the appliances in your home. Reducing or eliminating phantom loads can add up to significant monthly savings.
Assess the situation and decide which items could potentially be unplugged. If it’s something that is not used often, simply unplug it and let the person plug it in when they need it. A few examples include coffeemakers, toaster ovens and microwaves. It’s simple enough to unplug and re-plug when needed.
Otherwise, place vampire power items onto a power strip or a smart strip. This way, you can control when your appliances draw power.
Share what you learn with us, using #SCEnergyHour and #EnergyActionMonth.
Want to learn more? Library staff can make personalized recommendations on subjects, such as energy, and put those book on hold for customers.
Dominion Energy SC is also offering up some additional energy-saving tips.
Set your thermostat at 68˚F or lower in the winter and 78˚F or higher in the summer. Each degree higher or lower can significantly increase your heating costs in winter and cooling costs in summer.
Install a smart or programmable thermostat for added convenience. This will allow you to automatically raise or lower the temperature settings when you’re asleep or away from home. Make sure the thermostat is compatible with your HVAC system.
Check air filters monthly and change when dirty. Leave interior doors open and don’t close vents to allow adequate air flow through your HVAC system.
Periodically check your ductwork for leaks or tears. Repair fallen or crushed ductwork and use mastic (a plaster-like substance found at your local hardware store) to seal leaks.
Have your central heating and cooling system serviced annually by a professional. This can extend the life of the system while maintaining optimum efficiency.
Upgrade your attic insulation to a minimum of R-38 (12-14 inches), which can help save on heating and cooling costs.
Caulk, seal and weather-strip around all seams, cracks and openings to protect against drafts. Pay special attention to windows and exterior doors.
Set your water heater at 120°F and visually inspect the unit for leaks periodically.
Replace standard incandescent light bulbs with ENERGY STAR® LEDs, which are 90 percent more efficient than incandescent bulbs.
Unplug appliances, lights, TVs, computers, etc. when not in use or consider installing advanced power strips.