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A Message from Climate Change Maryland on National Energy Awareness Month

A Message from Climate Change Maryland on National Energy Awareness Month

By Larissa Johnson, Climate Change Maryland Coordinator

Throughout the country, Oktoberfest is in full swing, and Halloween is lurking just a few weeks away. This October, Maryland is celebrating National Energy Awareness Month by showing Marylanders how to save energy, protect your environment, reduce the amount of pollutants in the air and keep money in your pockets!

Every minute of every day, we are using energy – it powers our cars, buses and trains – it is needed to grow, process, package, transport, cook and refrigerate our food – treat our water supplies and wastewater – and keep our homes, schools, and workplaces comfortable. We use energy in every facet our lives and yet we often take it for granted.

Not only are our energy choices directly impacting our climate but those changes in the climate could have profound and negative impacts on our electricity grid – think about the 2012 Derecho or Superstorm Sandy in 2013 – extreme weather events like these will become more prevalent and so will the impacts to our electricity system.

Now is the time to start considering where your energy comes from – did you know that Maryland generates nearly 60% of its electricity needs from coal. Coal-fired power plants contribute approximately 5,000 MW of electricity in the summer (when demand for power is at its highest with air conditioners running). There are also two nuclear power plants at Calvert Cliffs, which provide 29% of the electricity produced in Maryland, for a total of 1,829 MW. Renewable resources, including hydroelectric plants, wind farms, and solar cells contribute 6.6%, or roughly 900 MW of electricity generated inside Maryland. The following chart reflects the various fuel sources of electricity generation within Maryland.

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There are two things we can do as Marylanders – we can use less energy overall which is the goal of the EmPOWER Maryland Initiative to reduce state consumption 15% by 2015 and we can start investing in cleaner renewable energy sources.

Your monthly electricity bill can be used to show you how you are using energy in the home and where you can reduce. Here are some additional tips from energy.gov that exemplify how lowering your family’s energy usage contributes to our state’s economy, security, and environment and can help lower your monthly bill.

1. Did you know that changing air filters regularly and cleaning (or unblocking) return duct vents keep your HVAC system running efficiently and improve its lifespan. Regularly wash out the condenser fins on the AC unit outside. Once a year, have your system inspected to fix problems before they become expensive repairs.

2. Keep access to your breaker panel clear and always keep a flashlight with fresh batteries stationed nearby. Also keep your panel information up to date by posting a breaker directory on the inside of the panel door.

3. Write the number of the circuit breaker on the inside of outlet and switch faceplates with a marker. This way, you can always be sure of knowing the right breaker for your outlets and switches.

4. Airsealing your home with weatherstripping on windows and doors and filling drafts with caulk or expandable foam will save you money off your heating and cooling costs. Not only does this reduce the cost of your energy usage, but it can keep out pests and will also improve the air quality by blocking out moisture that can encourage the growth of mold and mildew. Remember to close and seal your fireplace flue when it is not in use.

5. Wind-blown dirt and debris prevent your windows and doors from closing snuggly and allows moisture and cold air into your home. Twice a year, inspect your windows and doors to be sure they close properly and clean dirt from tracks, rails, and jambs.

Looking for more information about the EmPOWER Maryland initiative, go to http://climatechange.maryland.gov/empower/