Understanding "Energy", how to use it and how to save it

In order to save energy, you have to understand the basics of energy and energy use. This category provides you with enough background information and definitons to start your energy saving plan off right.

– energy efficiency ratio
– 10 tips for saving energy right now
– definition of kilowatt per hour
– definition of megawatt

Energy Efficiency Ratio

The energy efficiency ratio is an important term to know when maximizing energy savings in your home or business.

Definition: A ratio calculated by dividing the cooling capacity in Btus per hour (Btu/h) by the power input in watts at a given set of rating conditions, expressed in Btu/h per watt.

The EER(energy efficiency ratio) of a product also determines the product’s SEER or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio which is defined as the measure of cooling efficiency for air conditioning products. The higher the SEER rating number, the more energy efficient the unit is.

Also Known As: EER, SEER

Top 10 tips for saving energy right now

Saving energy doesn’t always take days of planning. There are many things you can do right now to start saving energy and cutting down on costs.

1. Setting Your Thermostat

Install a programmable thermostat compatible with your heating and cooling system. Make sure to set it comfortably low in the winter and comfortably high in the summer.

2. Lower Your Water Heater Temperature

Lower the thermostat on your hot water heater to 120 degrees farenheit.

3. Washing Clothes or Dishes

Follow the full load guideline. Never use the dishwasher or washing machine unless it houses a full load.

4. Using Power Strips

Plug your electronics into power strips. When turning off these electronics, power down using the power strip to prevent stand-by mode from drawing electricity unnecessarily.

5. Power Down Computers and Monitors

Turn off your computer and monitor when they are not being used. Contrary to popular beliefs, turning them on and off will not cause damage. If you are away from your computer at different intervals, make sure you have set the power save options.

6. Drying Dishes

Air dry dishes rather than using the heated drying cycle.

7. Washing in Cold Water

Wash clothes in cold water. This not only reduces hot water usage, but it is better for your clothing as well.

8. Use Compact Fluorescent Lighting

Use compact fluorescent bulbs to light your home. Not only do these bulbs use less energy, but they last longer than traditional bulbs.

9. Take Showers

Take short showers instead of baths. The amount of water used, and heated is significantly less for a shower.

10. Look for the Energy Star Label

Buy products that have the Energy Star label on them. All Energy Star products meet strict guidelines set by the US Department of Energy.

Kilowatt per Hour

Definition: A kilowatt-hour (kWh)measures a unit of energy, equal to 3,600,000 joules (3.6 MJ). It can also be described as the amount of energy that would be transferred at a constant rate of one kilowatt for one hour. This is the unit that is used by power companies to determine the amount of energy used by a home or business for billing purposes.

Also Known As:
kilowatt-hour, hWh, kilowatt-hr
Energy is measured in joules (J). How much energy is one joule? Not very much really. If you pick up a large apple and raise it above your head you will have used around one joule of energy in the process. On the other hand we use up huge amounts of energy every time we switch on a light. A 100 watt light bulb uses 100 joules of energy every second, i.e. one watt is one joule per second.


Definition: A megawatt is a unit for measuring power that is equivalent to one million watts (equivalent to one joule per second).

Also Known As: MW

10^6 Watts

Examples: One megawatt is equivalent to the energy produced by about 10 automobile engines.

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