Episode 14 - Scary Energy Costs

Intro: Welcome to 1000 Ways Green! The show where we give busy people like you easy ways to help save the planet for our future generations, and of course, try to save you money along the way.

Now, you might be wondering, who is this? I don’t recognize this voice at all. Well hello there! I’m Dan Laschansky, a close friend of your regular host Patrick, and also the co-host of another local podcast, The Grim Cities. It’s a podcast where we discuss haunted, paranormal, and out of this world topics from the twin cities and beyond. And since it’s halloween, peak spooky season, I'm possessing 1000 Ways Green! So, at least for today, you’re stuck with me whether you like it or not. Now, I obviously LOVE to talk about spooky/scary/creepy things, but if I’m being honest, nothing is as scary as the issues our planet is grappling with due to human activity, and in turn the consequences that we ourselves are facing. So today, I’ll be talking about ways you can fight something especially prevalent in all of our lives, scary rising energy costs.

Mint Green level: First, your mint green challenge this week is to install foam wall plate insulation behind each of your outlets and light switch plates, especially when these are on outside walls. By doing these easy one time installs you'll add insulation behind your switches or outlets and stop the open and easy transfer of heat through your walls. Because if you've never taken off any of these plates, it may have a fair bit of insulation or if your home is like Patrick’s, very little insulation behind the plates and so it's just a space where heat is easily lost. (get affiliate link).

Shamrock Green level: Next, your shamrock green level challenge this week is to master your curtains. Now, this next bit assumes that you live in the northern hemisphere. If you happen to live in the southern hemisphere, basically just flip everything you're about to hear.

In the summer you want to close your South facing window curtains during the day and open them at night. By doing this you prevent the energy and heat from the sun from getting into your apartment or house. This means you won't need to turn on the air conditioning as often, you'll save more money and you'll simply be more comfortable. To make this work most efficiently you'll want to use thermally insulated curtains that have that white lining on the back to repel more heat and light. Those types of curtains can save you up to 33% of heat gain or loss.

The flip side of this is to do the opposite of this in the winter and open your south side curtains during the day to let the heat in, then close them after dark to keep it in. The North side windows won't get solar heat so they should be smaller as they will only lose heat to your home all year long.

If you want to be even more on top of it, you can open the east facing curtains in the morning and west facing ones in the afternoon for maximum solar heat gain.

Forest green level: For this week’s forest green challenge you should get a smart thermostat. They give you the convenience of being able to turn your heat or A/C on before you get home and be more comfortable. Also most of them allow the thermostat to learn from you and will auto adjust the temperature when you’re not home to save you money plus not use energy when you don’t need it (which then won’t release greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere). I’m going to recommend 4 different thermostats to you, two that are on the more inexpensive end and two that are more premium. Before I talk about any of the options below I want to make it clear, you need to check the wiring behind your current thermostat before you buy any of these as some homes won’t work with some models. Each model has directions for how to do this and see if it is compatible, but if you don’t check you’ll get tricked rather than have a treat when you purchase.

So, your first low end option we’re going to look at is the Amazon Smart Thermostat. This thermostat is the cheapest of the bunch but still may qualify for a rebate. It has 3 modes (home, away and sleep) and can be controlled via your phone or Alexa but not much else.

The other option on the low end is the Google Nest Thermostat. This one is usually $130, but is on sale for $100 at the time of this episode. This one will automatically turn on and off when you come and go from your home, you can set schedules and can be controlled via your iPhone, Android, Alexa or Google home devices plus it will give you alerts when your furnace is acting funky so you can hopefully catch it before it breaks.

For your first high end option we’re looking at the Nest Learning Thermostat. This has pretty much all the features of the last Nest Thermostat we looked at but it will automatically learn your routines and create an optimized schedule for you without you having to do anything. It also will show you a green leaf when you are setting your thermostat to an eco-friendly temperature. This model will also show you your energy history and allow you to add in temperature sensors so you can both see the temperature in multiple locations in your home but also program it based on those locations. Maybe you want your bedroom to be 70 in the morning but your living room to be 70 in the evening. These let you do that. By owning either Google Nest Thermostats you’ll be earning these leaves by your actions, plus earn more online through Google’s Nest Renew program. Once you earn enough leaves you can exchange them to do one of 3 things:

  1. Expanding clean energy access

  2. Supporting clean energy careers

  3. Increasing energy affordability

Your fourth and final thermostat I’m recommending is the 2022 Ecobee Smart Thermostat with an air sensor. This is your most expensive of the 4 but is the only one that works with Google, Alexa and Apple homekit systems. It has all the features of the last model except for the leaf functionality/rewards program, but it also adds in the air sensor and a smoke alarm detection system. If you want to pay for an Ecobee smart security plan it will also tell you when someone has broken into your house. This is a top of the line thermostat.

Even if you already have one, maybe there is a loved one in your life that could use one of these for the holidays. Until next time, Be Green and Be Seen. And since it's Halloween and I'm Dan, Boo Felicia.

Links from the show:


Low End Options:

High End: