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Do-it-yourself Energy Policy

Electric co-ops in Kentucky spend a lot of time and effort on helping you use electricity more efficiently.

Efficiency is the too-often forgotten energy resource. For all the attention given to developing wind, solar, and other new sources for powering the economy, energy efficiency is the closest at hand. In fact, the most prominent electric utility research group calls energy efficiency “the fifth fuel” for meeting demands for electricity, along with coal, nuclear, natural gas, and hydroelectric power.

As not-for-profit, customer-owned utilities, electric co-ops have a special interest in the most efficient use of electricity, because it can save you money. Almost by definition, greater efficiency means a more productive economy. And for those especially concerned about the environmental effects of generating electricity, energy efficiency will minimize the effects of any fuel source.

But co-ops also know it can be tough to spend the money on energy-efficiency investments, whether it’s more efficient windows, extra insulation, or even just higher-efficiency light bulbs.

Across the state, local electric co-ops are trying out a variety of programs to help with that step of spending money to make money.

Kentucky Living helps that efficiency mission by keeping the topic top-of-the-mind with regular and practical attention.

This month in The Future of Electricity column, refrigerators offer an example of this key point of energy use: by spending a little more now, you can save a lot later.

During the past 20 years, the amount a standard-sized refrigerator can hold inside has increased about 10 percent. And the amount of energy those average refrigerators use to keep food cold? Less than half.

One of the low-tech advances in efficiency comes in the form of the EnergyGuide label you’ll find on a lot of appliances these days. That yellow tag allows you to make comparisons so you’ll know how to get the best return for your energy dollar.

You don’t have to wait around for a state or national energy solution, you can start doing it yourself. Your local electric co-op can help you get started.

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