Tips for energy savings before summer

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Sunday was international Earth Day. Across the world, people came together that day to talk about clean energy and negative industrial impacts to the environment, among other concerns. While Earth Day is officially over, there are countless things people in Pearl River County can do to help the environment as the weather grows warmer.

While electricity is a relatively clean source of energy, the process of generating it can lead to dangerous waste and byproducts. According to an article by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in 2016 about 67 percent of all electricity generated in the United States was produced from burning fossil fuels, industrial waste and biomass. These processes led to several harmful substances being put into the air, such as sulfur dioxide, which causes acid rain, nitrogen oxides, which causes damage to the lungs, mercury and other hazardous heavy metals and more, the article states.

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Clean sources of energy, such as solar and wind generated power, have a very small impact on the environment, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s website. However, these energy sources are typically expensive, and make up a much smaller portion of the United State’s overall energy production.

Currently, Mississippi Power is the largest partner for renewable energy in Mississippi, Mississippi Power Spokesman Jeff Shepard said. The company currently uses solar energy to generate approximately 105 megawatts of power, which is enough energy to power about 15,000 homes, Shepard said. Coast Electric Power Association also installed a test solar farm at its office in Kiln.

While use of clean energy is growing in Mississippi, much of the state’s electricity is still generated using combustion methods.

To protect the environment during this long transitional period, several steps can be taken to cut down on energy use.

Shepard said people have more control over their power usage than most realize.

He said the first step is to ensure the home is properly insulated. Check the insulation in the attic to see if more should be added, and check windows and doors to see if they are securely caulked and sealed, he said. 

Next, start changing personal habits to cut back on electricity use. For instance, Shepard said that with the summer coming up the optimal setting for a thermostat is 78 degrees. Shepard said if things get warm, open the windows in the morning and at night when it is cool to let air flow through the home.

“Use mother nature’s air-conditioning,” he said.

Shepard said if possible, invest in energy-saving appliances and light bulbs. LED bulbs use less energy than regular bulbs and will last much longer. While the initial cost may be higher, the combined savings from the light’s lifespan and low energy use will end up paying for itself.

Finally, Shepard suggests having a professional check appliances to make sure they are running at peak-performance before the beginning of summer. Finding a problem before the weather gets warmer will help appliances function more efficiently – cutting costs and maintenance time.