Energy Efficiency and Conservation

Energy conservation and energy efficiency are the first steps to take in addressing climate change, air pollution, rising energy prices, and our dependence on fossil fuels. Energy conservation involves behavioral changes, such as adjusting the thermostat and turning off lights that are not in use. Energy efficiency involves the use of technology that utilizes energy more efficiently, such as fuel-efficient automobiles or compact fluorescent lamps (CFL). The combination of conservation and efficiency will give you even more bang for the buck.


What is a phantom load?

 Phantom loads (aka energy vampires) are small amounts of electrical power consumed by an electronic device that is turned "off" (i.e. on standby mode).  Examples of phantom loads are the clocks in DVD players and microwave ovens, the small black wall cubes that adapt DC appliances to run on AC house current (e.g., cell phone and lap top chargers), and the instant-on features in televisions and home entertainment centers (i.e. remote-controlled). These loads typically range from 1 to 10 Watts per appliance. The concern over phantom loads centers on their contribution to energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions because they constantly draw power, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Power strips will eliminate pesky phantom loads but they must be physically turned off to do so. Remember to hit the switch and keep those energy vampires out of your home!  


Did you know?  Based on 67 Watts per household, Humboldt County’s approximately 50,000 households have a total phantom load on the order of 3.4 megawatts (MW), or nearly one and a half times the total output capacity of Matthews Dam hydroelectric plant at Ruth Lake (Humboldt Energy Task Force).


If all California residents replaced their old, inefficient gas furnaces with energy efficient furnaces, it would be the equivalent of taking approximately 120,000 cars off the road.


On average, refrigerators use more electricity than any other appliance in a home. Older fridges are the worst offenders, so give top priority to replacing a fridge manufactured before 1993. Potential Annual Savings of Investment: $70 and 1,720 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions.


Every gallon of gasoline you save avoids 22 pounds of CO2 emissions. If your car gets 25 miles per gallon, for example, and you reduce your annual driving from 12,000 to 10,000 miles, you'll save 1800 pounds of CO2.



What is an energy assessment?

An energy assessment (aka audit) allows you to investigate the energy use of your home or business in order to identify ways to increase the buidling's efficiency and comfort. In addition, the recommendations based on the assessment will help you to also lower your utility bill (energy and water) and to reduce the carbon footprint of your home or business. For more information please contact the Energy Program at 825-2168 or Redwood Coast Energy Authority.


Energy Efficiency and Conservation Resources

The City of Arcata encourages you to use energy as efficiently as you can. Numerous informational resources exist at the local, state, and national levels to help you save energy, improve the comfort of your home and workplace, lower your monthly utility bill, and reduce your contribution to air pollution and the generation of greenhouse gas emissions. For more information, click on one of the links below, or contact the City Energy Program Specialist.

 Humboldt Energy Task Force brochures (hard copies available through the Environmental Services Department located at City Hall):


 Take a FREE online energy class offered through Pacific Gas & Electric's Pacific Energy Center


                                                 Energy Saving Tips     


           ·         Studies have shown that using rechargeable batteries for products like cordless phones and PDAs is more cost effective than throwaway batteries. If you must use disposal batteries, check with your local waste management company about safe disposal options. 


·          There is a common misconception that screen savers reduce energy use in monitors, but this is not true. Setting your computer to sleep mode or manually turning monitors off will save more energy. 


·         Turn off your computer and monitor when not in use; Unplug battery chargers when the batteries are fully charged or the chargers are not in use. 


·         The heated drying cycle of your dishwasher uses a tremendous amount of power. Air drying your dishes is more efficient. Don't give up the dishwasher altogether. Studies have shown that washing dishes in the sink requires more energy (from heating the water) than using an energy-efficient dishwasher. 


·         Install a programmable thermostat to keep your house comfortably warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Try to turn the thermostat down at least 2 degrees in the winter than the standard temperature. If you feel cold, dress warmer while indoors. Do the opposite in the summer with the AC. 


·         Turn your lights off when you leave a room and switch from incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) or LEDs for more energy efficient lighting.  


·         Adequate insulation in your attic, ceilings, exterior and basement walls, floors, and crawlspaces, as recommended for your geographical area, can save you up to 30% on home energy bills! 


·         Plug home electronics, such as TVs and DVD players, into power strips and turn off the strip when not in use. Many household appliances continue to suck electricity even when switched off. Nationally, these phantom loads create annual emissions equivalent to 17 power plants! Eliminate phantom loads by unplugging idle electronics and switching off power strips. Potential Annual Savings: $200 and 480 pounds of emissions. 


·         About 90 percent of the energy used for a load of laundry goes to heating the water. Some stains demand hot water, as do bed linens (to kill dust mites). Wash all other loads in cold. Always clean your dryer vent to ensure it is not blocked. This saves energy and may prevent a fire. And air dry clothes on a sunny day. Potential Annual Savings: $300 and 330 pounds of emissions. 




                                       The Water-Energy Connection

                     How conserving water will lower utility bills and greenhouse gas emissions in Arcata


Delivering water to and from your home is energy intensive. Did you know 64 percent of the City’s total municipal energy use goes toward pumping, distributing, and disposal of water used in our Community? In 2010, the 723 million gallons of water our Community consumed generated 660 tons of carbon dioxide emissions. That is an annual emissions equivalent of nearly 70,000 gallons of gasoline consumed or roughly 120 passenger vehicles or the electricity use of approximately 80 average single-family households in the United States annually. 


It also takes energy to heat the water used in your home.  By reducing the amount of water you use each day, you not only decrease the need to pump, transport, heat, treat, and dispose of water but you also save money on your utility bills!


To conserve water and energy:

1. Water your lawn only when it needs it. Step on your grass. If it springs back, when you lift your foot, it doesn't need water. So set your sprinklers for more days in between watering. Saves 750–1,500 gallons per month. Better yet, especially in times of drought, water with a hose. And best of all, convert your lawn to native plants.

2. Fix leaky faucets and plumbing joints. Saves up to 600 gallons per month for every leak stopped.

3. Don't run the hose while washing your car. Use a bucket of water and a quick hose rinse at the end. Saves 150 gallons each time. For a two-car family that's up to 1,200 gallons a month.

4. Install water-saving shower heads or flow restrictors. Saves 500 to 800 gallons per month.

5. Run only full loads in the washing machine and dishwasher. Saves 300 to 800 gallons per month.

6. Shorten your showers. Even a one or two minute reduction can save up to 700 gallons per month.

7. Use a broom instead of a hose to clean driveways and sidewalks. Saves 150 gallons or more each time. At once a week, that's more than 600 gallons a month.

8. Don't use your toilet as an ashtray or wastebasket. Saves 400 to 600 gallons per month.

9. Capture tap water. While you wait for hot water to come down the pipes, catch the flow in a watering can to use later on house plants or your garden. Saves 200 to 300 gallons per month.

10. Don't water the sidewalks, driveway, or gutter. Adjust your sprinklers so that water lands on your lawn or garden where it belongs—and only there. Saves 500 gallons per month

Did you know...

  • Letting your faucet run for five minutes uses about as much energy as letting a 60-watt light bulb run for 14 hours.

  • Reducing household water use will not only help reduce the energy required to supply and treat public water supplies but it can also help address climate change. In fact:

    • If one out of every 100 American homes retrofitted with water-efficient fixtures, we could save about 100 million kWh of electricity per year—avoiding 80,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions. That is equivalent to removing nearly 15,000 automobiles from the road for one year!
    • If 1 percent of American homes replaced their older, inefficient toilets with WaterSense labeled models, the country would save more than 38 million kWh of electricity—enough to supply more than 43,000 households electricity for one month.


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