Hello, Lebanon. It’s me, your friendly Green Patriot. Today I’d like to discuss something I’m sure we’re all very familiar with…energy, electricity, and our pocket books.

The basic premise of my argument is that we want more energy and a lower price, correct? Think about how much you pay for both the electricity and the generator. So much of our home life is energy-based, and we don’t even notice until the power cuts off. Think about it; electricity powers lightbulbs, appliances, electronic devices, air conditioners, and heaters. We use gas for cooking, but most of us use electricity as our primary source of energy. Every time you turn on a light or a TV, use hot water, or switch on the air conditioner or the heater, you consume energy. Given that this is a non-renewable source of energy, this is harmful for our environment. With some of these tips, we can reduce the harm done to our environment. Besides, some of these tips will help you trim the costs, too!

The first tip seems obvious: avoid keeping it on when you are not using it. Turn off the lights when you leave the room. Turn off the hot water if you aren’t going to use it anymore, etc. However, there is more to this simple tip than meets the eye. Think about how we use our light and appliances for a second.

One popular misconception is that turning on a light uses far more energy than it consumes while it is operating. Not so. It is true that when an incandescent or fluorescent lightbulb is first switched on, it requires a brief surge of electricity. But that surge is so short that it doesn’t make a difference. It is better to turn off the lights when you are not using them. Better still is to use energy-saving bulbs. These are widely available across Lebanon. Called compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs, they use about one third of the power required to produce the same amount of light that is produced by a standard incandescent bulb, and last for a longer time. They also do not produce the same amount of heat that standard lightbulbs do; they are more efficient. I use them in my house, and they are awesome. Some of the older models flicker; make sure to ask for the newest models. My fellow Lebanese, they rock.

Turning things off also applies to another household culprit which I’m sure a lot of us aren’t even aware of; the “standby power” button glowing in red when your TV, DVD player, microwave, and computer are “off.” Not off, but “off.” I use these quotation marks because standby power, by definition, means that the electronic device is not fully off.  A device placed on standby power consumes electricity 24 hours a day just to stay warmed up for whenever you decide to use it. After you turn it off, simply pull out the plug, and there will be no damage done to your device.  In addition, did you know that if your phone or laptop (or any other electronic device)  is still in the charger even though it is fully charged, the electricity is still in use? Even if the charger is connected to the socket but the device is unplugged, electricity is still running through the charger. A lot of us keep the charger in place, but this costs the environment…and us…in terms of energy consumption.

It is now time to discuss energy conservation when it comes to heating and cooling. The largest amount of expenditure in a house pertains to heating and cooling. If there are rooms in your house that aren’t being used, shutting the doors to those rooms results in an overall reduction in the amount of area that the heating and air-conditioning systems have to heat and cool. In the summer, close the curtains during the daytime to avoid sunlight coming in, and use ceiling fans or electric fans for cooling as opposed to heavy-duty ACs. In winter, you can reduce the theromstat a bit, and reduce the amount of energy you use.  Instead, passive solar heating can really make a difference in winter. All this means is opening up the curtains on south-facing windows during the daytime to allow sunlight into the house. After this, close the curtains at night to keep the heat inside. This will warm up your house, conserve energy, and reduce your bills.

 My fellow Lebanese, it time for us to take charge of our environment, our electricity, and our wallets. We can make a greener and healthier environment for ourselves if we want to. WE CAN DO IT, Lebanon!!