energyWith the volatile economy Americans are looking for ways to lower energy bills and extend natural resources now more than ever. Because petroleum is ingrained in our everyday lives – from transportation and tires to computers and every day goods such as diapers – many Americans are interested in options that will help reduce dependence on foreign oil as well.
Here are a few helpful tips to lower energy bills and increase energy efficiency both at home and at the pump.
Don’t Warm Up Your Car
The best way to warm your vehicle is to drive it. Idling gets you zero miles to the gallon. More than 30 seconds of idling on cold days wastes fuel and increases emissions.

Conduct Regular Car Maintenance
Simple things such as properly inflated tires can improve gas mileage by about 3 percent. Replacing clogged air filters can improve gas mileage by as much as 10 percent. It also is important to use your car manufacturer’s recommended blend of motor oil. Using a different oil can decrease gas mileage by 1 to 2 percent.

Fill Up With Ethanol
Using gasoline with 10 percent ethanol is a key component to lowering high gas prices and stretching petroleum supplies. Experts recently noted that ethanol has lowered gas prices by 15 percent, saving drivers some $70 billion at the pump this year alone. The production of just one barrel of ethanol replaces 1.2 barrels of petroleum. In total, the use of ethanol in gas and E-85 will displace the equivalent of 52 large oil tankers filled with imported crude this year. The production of ethanol and the abundance of corn positions corn growers to lead America’s transition into a new era of energy based on alternatives to fossil and imported fuels. Check your owner’s manual to find out about ethanol usage.

Hybrid or Flex Fuel Vehicles
The interest in highly fuel efficient vehicles will not go away anytime soon. Save money at the gas pump and help the environment by investing in a hybrid or a vehicle that runs on E-85, an 85 percent ethanol blend.

locallygrownBuy Locally Grown Foods
Support your local farmers by
choosing local meat, milk and produce when possible to eliminate the costly transportation bill. Packaging, transportation, energy, advertising and profits account for 24 cents of the food dollar – energy costs have an even greater impact with high oil prices.

Turn Your Home Off
According to the United States Department of Energy, 75 percent of the electricity used in the average home is consumed while products are off. Unplug your appliances or use a power strip to cut off the electricity when you aren’t using it.

Screen Savers Don’t Save
Screen savers do not reduce the energy your computer uses. Instead, switch computers to sleep modes or simply turn off monitors to save energy.

Set Your Thermostat at 68
For every degree you lower the thermostat in the 60 to 70 degree range, you’ll save 5 percent on your home’s heating costs. Set the temperature even lower at night to save an additional 5 to 20 percent.

Use Fluorescent Light Bulbs
Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs, which use 75 percent less energy than incandescent.

Open the Shades
Open the shades or blinds and let the sun shine in during the day to naturally heat your home. Don’t forget to close them at night to help insulate against the cold.
Following these easy tips can help lower your energy bills and reduce our country’s dependence on foreign oil sources.

Get the Facts on Ethanol
The use of alternative energy is becoming more common in everyday life. Here are some facts to consider about one alternative source, ethanol.

-America’s corn growers are harvesting the second largest crop in our nation’s history, which means there will be enough corn to meet demands for food, feed and fuel as well as enough to provide strong exports to other countries over the course of the year ahead.
-U.S. growers will have reserve estimated at more than 1 billion bushels for other needs, as identified.
-Ethanol production creates co-products called distillers grains that are a high-protein source of animal feed and produces starch and corn oil that are used as common food ingredients.
-U.S. farmers harvest two kinds of corn, field corn and sweet corn. Field corn is used to produce ethanol. It typically isn’t eaten by humans in its raw form. Sweet corn is eaten as a vegetable.
-Blending ethanol with gasoline extends gas reserves and lowers the price at the pump by about 15 percent, according to industry experts. Plus, ethanol was selected as an important replacement for Methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE), a carcinogenic oxygenate in fuel.
-The Environmental Protection Agency concluded that ethanol reduces carbon monoxide emissions by as much as 25 percent, reducing ozone formation and the levels of greenhouse gases. Ethanol is cleaner than gasoline and helps reduce global warming.
-Many studies have shown ethanol provides 20 to 50 percent more energy than it takes to produce. This includes the energy needed to plant, grow and harvest the corn as well as to manufacture and distribute the ethanol.
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