The month of March represents many activities to celebrate: St. Patrick's Day, the first day of spring, the beginning of Lent, Daylight Savings Time, the month Coca Cola was invented, and most importantly, NCAA brackets! Now, with the understanding that it is unfair to place a higher importance on any of these things as its relative to each individual's beliefs, the one concept many of us forget is that there is life beyond March Madness. In fact, there is so much life that we must act now to preserve the wonderful resource that's been given to us for this life: our energy environment.
Much of this may not be new to you but now is an opportune time to revisit the ways we can get MAD about energy savings in MARCH.
Many states along the east coast have experienced a significantly warmer winter than usual and quite an abrupt transition to sunny, springtime weather. That said, one way to keep the house cool (along with your energy bill) for those Friday night "game nights" is to plant some shade around the outside of your house, especially near windows. We've talked before about how a little shade can go a long way, but it's really important to remember just how much of an impact this can have. Trees can cool the surrounding air temperatures by as much as 9°F.
On your way to a Game Five barbeque? Great—consider riding your bike there! While National Bike Month (or Bike-to-work day) is in May, there is never a better time, especially when it's warm, to keep your carbon footprint low by getting that foot in gear! Understanding the energy impact you are having is one way to get motivated.
Some of us are lucky enough to have friends who will host every game at their place, but the more likely situation is that sometimes we have to "take one for the team" and prepare the house to host the championship party. First things first, check your bracket. Wait, that's second! First, ensure that any sliding glass doors from the inside of the house to the outside have clean tracks. Built-up dirt can cause damage to the door seal resulting in microscopic gaps that allow the cool air in the house to escape. Consider weatherstripping the door if you foresee a loss of energy conservation—then go check your bracket.
Use the time between games and parties to do a little extra spring cleaning. Eliminating dust bunnies and debris from behind your major appliances, such as the refrigerator, will improve operating efficiency thus saving energy in the long run. Keeping light bulbs dust free will ensure maximum illumination and minimal energy waste.
So, while our calendars are full this month with a variety of wonderful activities, let's keep in mind the importance of sparing the real madness by working toward a sustainable energy future.
Kristin Swineford supports DOE's Weatherization & Intergovernmental Program in Communications & Outreach.