How Do Energy Efficient Home Accessories Really Work?


Special to Nvate | 497 words



While a lot of us probably have energy efficient products in our homes, we might be hard-pressed to explain how and why they actually work. Yes, we can speak with some authority about our high efficiency washers using less water, or the CFL bulbs that we are pretty sure are more energy efficient than their incandescent cousins, but this might be where our collective knowledge comes to a halt.

In an effort to help explain how and why energy efficient home accessories are good for both our utility bills and the environment, let’s take a closer look at three popular products:

Compact Fluorescent Lamps

Many of us have dutifully switched out our incandescent bulbs for the CFL variety. As Energy Star notes, CFLs actually create light differently than traditional bulbs. For example, the old fashioned incandescent bulbs rely on an electric current to go through the wire filament, which heats it up until it lights up.

In the CFL bulb, however, the electric current goes through a tube that has both argon and a bit of mercury vapor. This action then creates invisible ultraviolet light that causes the fluorescent coating on the inside of the tube to show light that we can see. Interestingly, CFLs need a bit more energy than incandescent bulbs when they are first switched on, but then once the energy starts cruising through the tube, the bulbs use about 70 percent less energy. Another point about CFL bulbs worth noting is that they take anywhere from 30 seconds to three minutes to become fully illuminated.

Cellular Shades

As it turns out, some types of window coverings can do more than prevent our nosy neighbors from looking into our kitchen windows to see what’s for dinner. Some can even provide insulation, which keeps the kitchen and other rooms in our homes cooler in the summer and toastier during the winter.

Retailers like The Shade Store feature several varieties of cellular shades, sometimes also referred to as honeycomb shades. In addition to offering privacy and light control, cellular shades can help reduce the amount of heat and cool air that is lost from a room, which in turn lowers energy bills. In the case of the single-cell cellular shade, air is trapped inside the cell right near the window. This insulates the window and keeps the room at a steady temperature.

High-Efficiency Washers

You might do your laundry in a high efficiency, or HE washing machine, and you probably have a general idea that the machine uses less water than your old washer did. As Consumer Reports notes, HE washers do more than use less H2O—they also spin a lot faster than old style washers, which means your clothes, towels and everything else usually require less drying time. In order to get the official HE symbol, the washing machine must actually use less water, detergent and energy. If just one of these factors is not true for the washer, it cannot be called HE.

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