By Sarah Metzer, Denver Zoo Science Program Specialist
Education Representative on Denver Zoo's Polar Bear International Committee
International Polar Bear Day is a great time to look at the energy use in our homes. Heating and cooling accounts for nearly half the energy we use, energy which largely comes from the burning of fossil fuels. This releases additional carbon dioxide into our atmosphere, trapping heat like a blanket around the Earth. Unfortunately that extra heat is melting sea ice which is critical for polar bear survival. On February 27 you can join Denver Zoo by committing to turn down your thermostat 2 degrees to conserve energy during the Thermostat Challenge. Bundle up for bears with friends, family, and the community to save our sea ice!
Why stop there? Be part of the solution to reduce carbon emissions every day with simple, often inexpensive steps that add up to make a big difference.
- Can you remember the last time you changed the air filter in your furnace? Regular changes and maintenance increases the lifespan of heating and cooling equipment, saving energy and helping reduce carbon emissions. The zoo HVAC team has created a program to regularly protect and maintain air filters throughout the zoo in support of the zoo’s goal to reduce energy usage.
- Programmable thermostats are a great investment that ensures you are saving energy when you leave the house. Some models even have the option for you program directly from your smart phone! The zoo uses a building automation system in many of our administration and office buildings to save energy through programmed temperature set points.
- Feel a draft? Seal it up by applying caulk to windows and adding weather stripping around doors. Heat rises, so adding even a little extra insulation in the attic ensures that heat doesn’t escape through the roof. The zoo staff supports our goals by identifying opportunities to add extra insulation and reduce heat loss from our buildings.
- It takes energy to heat water for our homes too, so consider taking a shorter shower. The bonus here is that you are also conserving water! The zoo has implemented multiple water saving projects since 1999 that has saved over 300 million gallons of water.
- Open up those windows on nice days! Give your furnace or air conditioning unit a break and save energy by using the outside temperature to heat or cool your home. The zoo’s Toyota Elephant Passage exhibit utilizes programmed windows that will open or close depending on the outside temperature to help regulate the internal building temperature.
- Looking to upgrade or replace? Look for Energy Star appliances rated for energy efficiency. The zoo is committed to only purchasing Energy Star rated appliances.
The great news is that humans are problem solvers. We tackle these challenges the way polar bears tackle the tundra! Choose a sustainable future, and support representatives that do too. Join Denver Zoo in melting hearts, not ice caps.
Visit Denver Zoo February 27 through March 2 for special International Polar Bear Day activities!
FOR DENVER RESIDENTS: Ways to Conserve Energy At Home!
To learn more about ways to conserve energy at home visit www.DenverEnergy.org
The Denver Energy Challenge is a no-cost energy advisor program administered by the City and County of Denver. Are you looking for ways to reduce your energy use? Need help programming your thermostat at the right temperature? Contact an advisor through the City at 720-865-5520.
Advisors can help you:
- Review a previous audit or help schedule one
- Prioritize energy saving measures
- Interactive advising via video chat or send photos of your home
- Provide a list of pre-screened Contractors
- Compare and review bids -Locate rebates, financing and help you apply
- Answer any questions you have about energy savings
FOR DENVER BUSINESSES: Conserve Energy (and more) in Your Business!
Certifiably Green Denver is a no-cost sustainability program administered by the City and County of Denver. Are you a business owner looking for ways to reduce operating costs? Want to be more sustainable? Sustainability improvements around energy, waste, water or transportation can help you get there. Contact a sustainability advisor through the City to get started and for your free green business assessment. 720-865-5457.