Greener BeeGreen ElectronicsCounty Program Offers Green Advice for Spring

At the 2017 Santa Barbara Earth Day Festival, emPower Central Coast will hand out water bottles and offer home energy efficiency tips and information on incentives for making home upgrades.

Representatives from emPower will be at the Community Services Department’s Energy and Sustainability Initiatives booth (#382-383) in the Public Square.

The Earth Day Festival is April 22-23 at Alameda Park, 1400 Santa Barbara St. Hours are 11 a.m.-7 p.m. April 22, and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. April 23.

In addition to the emPower program, the Division of Energy and Sustainability Initiatives also oversees implementation of the county’s Energy and Climate Action Plan.

Central Coast emPower will give away a reusable water bottle to the first 50 people who visit the Earth Day booth and participate in the “bright idea for energy efficiency” activity.

Visitors also can learn about their home-energy use, simple efficiency tips like the ones listed below, and how insufficient insulation, unsealed gaps and other troubles can affect indoor comfort.

“Earth Day is a time for residents to access information and resources to kick start their green home projects,” said Ashley Watkins, program services supervisor.

“There will be a wealth of passionate people in one spot looking to share their knowledge,” she said.

Booth visitors can schedule a free home-site visit from an emPower energy coach, who can search for common home energy-efficiency issues such as inefficient equipment and poor insulation levels.

The emPower program also can refer homeowners to participating local, qualified contractors, and connect them with utility incentives up to $5,500, as well as low-interest, unsecured financing that starts at 3.9 percent.

While the biggest reduction of home energy use comes from working with qualified contractors to replace inefficient equipment such as furnaces, seal drafty wall gaps and install proper insulation, following are some tips to get started:

» Test out nature’s dryer by hanging laundry out to air dry. If your machine is in your home, be sure the unit is sending its exhaust outside. If not, that’s a lot of heat being released into your home..

» Consider whether a toaster oven will do the job. Heating up the full-size wall oven will use more energy and release more heat into the house than a smaller toaster oven.

» Power down electronics and appliances. Many electronics and appliances still draw power even when in sleep mode or with the power switch turned off.

Resolve this issue by using an advanced power strip that can be flipped off when the connected appliances aren’t in use.

» Replace incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs. Today’s LED bulbs can be six times more efficient than their outdated incandescent counterparts. They’ll also last significantly longer. Cost to consumers on this emerging technology is falling.

» Reset your water heater’s thermostat to 120 degrees. Many come from the manufacturer set to 140 degrees, but you’ll still be able to get comfortable hot water after dialing it back.

Insulating the first six feet of the hot and cold water pipes connected to the water heater will help keep water warm and reduce standby heat loss.
For more information, visit

— Angel Pacheco for emPower Central Coast.

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