The Blog

Conservation and Efficiency During Winter Months

By: Omar Bagnied

Winter’s cold months are ahead. As you gear-up for the season, here are some ways you can also help prepare your home to be warm and energy efficient all while saving money.

It is He who has appointed you guardians in the earth… (Surat al An’am, Ayah 165)

Air leaks are one of the main reasons for high energy bills during winter months. Several openings in your home allow cold air to enter and hot air to exit, thus making your heating system work harder. Here are some ways to identify those leaks and cover them:

Check for plumbing penetrations.
Often after plumbing work is done, gaps are left around the area. Foam (spray or rigid) can be applied to cover the area.

fireplace-chimney

Maintain your fireplace and chimney.
While your fireplace is in use make sure the damper is open, doors leading into the room are closed, and your thermostat is turned down to lower than usual.

Open dampers are equivalent to wide-open windows. If you don’t use your fireplace, make sure the damper is tightly closed, and consider putting a cover on your chimney.

Use caulk as an adhesive to cover air leaks inside your home, around the fireplace hearth, as well as outside your home in the structural area between your chimney and home.

save-energy-weatherstripping

Weatherize doors and windows.
Consider weatherstripping your doors and windows. To prevent heat from escaping, you can apply clear plastic film firmly around windows inside your home.

When the sun is out, open your blinds that face it. As evening approaches, close them to mitigate cold air intrusion.

The world is beautiful and verdant, and verily God, be He exalted, has made you His stewards in it… (Hadith via Muslim)

Other sources of high utility bills include inefficient use of utility outlets, lighting and water.

Assess utility outlets.
In an average household about 40 items are plugged-in at any given time. When items are not in use or turned-off, they still draw “phantom” power (or idle current) while plugged in.Let’s do the math! Say an electronic device, such as a blu-ray or DVD player, is plugged-in but never or rarely used for an entire year draws 15 watts of electricity (1 watt/yr = 8.76 kWh/yr).

If the cost of your electricity is $0.11/kWh, you’re spending roughly $14.50/yr on an item you never or seldom use just because it’s left plugged-in. When you consider the 30+ other items plugged in, it’s no surprise the average American household spends approximately $100/yr on items that are plugged-in but turned-off. A simple fix can potentially save you hundreds of dollars a year.

Re-consider the light bulbs you use!
While incandescent light bulbs may be cheaper, they are tremendously inefficient when it comes to using power. CFLs (compact fluorescents) and LEDs (light-emitting diodes) bulbs cost more on the front end, but use far less electricity.

Did you know, a 60 watt incandescent bulb uses 4x more electricity than a 14 watt CFL, and 6x more electricity than a 12.5 watt LED? The average lifetime of said incandescent is 1 year, comparatively, the CFL lasts roughly 7 years, and the LED 20 years!If you consider the average household has 25 light bulbs in use at any given time, over a 50,000-hour period the savings you’d accrue by using a CFL or LED over an incandescent would exceed $6,000.

And tell them that the water shall be shared between them (Surat al Qamar, Ayah 28)

Conserve Water
A seemingly innocent drip can turn into gallons if left alone! To conserve water inside your home, try simple things like:

  • fixing water leaks
  • shortening time spent in the shower
  • closing the faucet while brushing your teeth

Collect, store and reuse rainwater. Install a rain barrel or plant native greenery that will better soak water back into the ground. We’re all part of the same global water source as many small bodies of water feed into larger ones.

…waste not by excess, for Allah loveth not the wasters (Surat al A’raf, Ayah 21)

Incorporating all these changes at once might be a tall task. A good takeaway here is simply knowledge on ways to conserve resources, be efficient and save money. Perhaps choose a few small steps to start, and remember that espousing conservation and shunning excess are truly Islamic values.


References:
“Fall and Winter Energy-Saving Tips”. US Dept of Energy. 21 October 2013. http://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/fall-and-winter-energy-saving-tips

Brindle, Beth. “How much can you save by unplugging appliances?”. Howstuffworks. http://money.howstuffworks.com/personal-finance/budgeting/how-much-save-unplugging-appliances1.htm

“LED Light Bulbs: Comparison Chart”. Eartheasy. http://eartheasy.com/live_led_bulbs_comparison.html

Braun-Greiner, Kolya. Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake. Phone Interview.