Fuel Economy Suffers in the Heat
not a surprise that using your car's air conditioning (A/C) is the main
contributor to reduced fuel economy in hot weather. How great of an impact it
has depends on a number of factors such as the outside temperature, humidity,
and intensity of the sun. During hot summers, air conditioning use can reduce a
conventional vehicle's fuel economy by more than 25 percent.
your windows down can also reduce fuel economy. Open windows increase
aerodynamic drag (wind resistance), so your vehicle requires more energy to
push through the air. This effect is quite small at low speeds but increases at
fuel economy in hot weather:
- Park in the shade or use a sunshade so that the cabin doesn't get as hot.
- Drive with the windows open for a short time before using your A/C. Letting hot air out of the cabin first will put less demand on the system and help your vehicle cool faster.
- Don't idle with the A/C running before driving. Turn the A/C on after you begin to drive or after briefly airing out the cabin. Most A/C systems will cool the vehicle faster while driving.
What Light Bulbs Should I Buy?
home uses about 15 percent of its electricity for lighting, but there are easy
ways to reduce this energy consumption and save money.
Review the Lighting Facts
label on light bulbs before purchasing them. These labels are required by
law to help consumers choose the most efficient bulb for their needs. The
labels provide helpful information about the bulb, including information on
brightness, color, energy usage, estimated operating cost, life expectancy, and
You can also
look for the ENERGY STAR label when choosing your bulbs. Light bulbs with this
label have been proven to meet energy-efficiency standards set by the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). ENERGY STAR certified bulbs use 70-90
percent less energy than traditional incandescent
bulbs and over their lifetime can save you between $30 and $80 in electricity
cost for each bulb.
Different light bulb technologies exist with varying levels of efficiency:
- Incandescent bulbs, which are based on older technology, convert most of their energy to heat and not light.
- Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) are more energy efficient and last longer than incandescent bulbs. They are now available in a wider range of colors and not just the blue tones of early models. However, CFLs contain a small amount of mercury, so they should be carefully disposed of or recycled whenever possible.
- Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are an emerging light bulb technology. LEDs are long-lasting, efficient, and do not contain mercury, and unlike CFLs or incandescents, they are cool to the touch.
bulbs can contain mercury and heavy metals, they should be disposed of
carefully. Residents are encouraged to
take advantage of their local recycling or household hazardous waste programs,
if available. Visit Earth911.com
to find an appropriate recycling center near you. Light bulbs used in homes can
be thrown away with regular trash; however, the EPA recommends used or broken
CFLs be sealed in a plastic bag.
to save money and electricity is to use natural sunlight as much as possible.
You can do this using mirrors and light colors to reflect light within your
home. Also, removing obstacles blocking light from your home, such as
windowsill clutter, can bring in more sunlight. Other options include adding
skylights and window shades that can easily be adjusted to let a maximum amount
of light in.
Tell Us How You Take Care of Texas for a Chance to Win a $50 H-E-B Gift Card
made your office greener? Did you update your sprinkler system with the latest
technology? Do you recycle bottles into art or home décor? Share your
story of how you Take Care of Texas. Top entries will be added to the
website, and one entry will be selected at random to win a $50 H-E-B gift card. Contest ends
Aug. 11 at noon. Complete Contest Rules
Texas Agriculture Foundation Improves Watershed and Soil Health
The ranches of the Dixon Water Foundation feature an innovative use of an old “technology”: livestock. Using planned grazing strategies to aggressively graze defined fields before moving the herd, they mimic the natural grazing of migratory bison, which inhabited much of this area in the distant past. This strategy actually improves the health of soil, strengthening the root systems of vegetation, and contributes to healthier watersheds and improved biodiversity on the property.
The livestock feed intensely on small plots for short amounts of time. Their waste is left on the land and serves as natural fertilizer for the grasses. Ranch managers typically allow six months or more as a recovery period for the plants and soil. Management at the Dixon Water Foundation admits more planning is required than if livestock were allowed to graze openly, but once the plan is in place it actually streamlines daily work for the ranch managers. Watch the video for more information and to see the land.
Know of another great environmental project? Applications for the Texas Environmental Excellence Awards, the highest environmental honor in the state, are open now through September 25, 2015. Dixon Water Foundation is past winner in the agriculture category.