These simple steps will help you save energy and money, and live healthier all year long.
1. Instead of turning up the thermostat, add some clothing. Back in the 70s President Carter was ridiculed for telling people to “put on a sweater,” but he was right. Limiting use of your home heating system is actually one of the simplest and most effective ways of saving energy, money and lessening your personal carbon footprint. In addition, program your thermostats to lower the temperature while you’re away from the house or asleep, saving additional energy.
2. Swap out your incandescent lightbulbs for energy-efficient, environmentally friendly LEDs. Yes, Compact Fluorescent Bulbs (CFLs) are also energy-efficient, but they contain mercury. The new LED bulbs are brighter, just as cool, and will last for years.
3. Stop heating the outdoors. Seal off air leaks in your attic and basement to prevent heat from escaping. These two areas of the house are the biggest culprits for leaks. Go to How To Seal Your Attic and How To Seal Your Basement.
4. Decrease your water usage by replacing old shower heads with new water efficient ones. You’ll conserve water and the energy it takes to heat it (a big savings). Many older showers use up to three gallons per minute–a newer head could cut that by a third. Look for a shower head that dispenses water in multiple small streams instead of a fine mist. Also, consider attaching aerators to your faucets. These cylindrical devices thread onto the end of the faucet and limit the water flow, reducing water consumption for jobs like washing dishes or hands. They can be found at most hardware stores.
5. Eliminate most cleaning sprays and air fresheners from your house. These almost always contain harmful chemicals, especially for children. You can buy an all-natural cleaner or use vinegar for an easy homemade cleaning solution. Plain water on a cloth makes for a marvelous duster.
6. Make smart choices about your computer use. Your computer can consume a lot of electricity over time, especially if you’re in the habit of leaving it in sleep mode all the time without ever turning it off. Make it a habit to turn off the computer every night, and also shut it down if you know you won’t be using it for the next several hours. You might also want to consider switching to a laptop computer, which may only consume a quarter of the energy that a desktop does.
7. Turn your car off instead of letting it idle if it’s clear that you won’t move in the next thirty seconds. Starting a car releases less exhaust than letting it run and saves on gas as well.
8. Buy as many things locally as you can, whether it’s food, lumber or other things. The amount of energy we use by shipping goods across the country is staggering, and anything we can do to lower that is a plus.
9. If you’re planning a building project for this upcoming year, consider using engineered lumber made from fast growing trees. It’s glued together to form a final product and often outperforms solid-sawed wood for durability and longevity. Your standard two-by-four is often cut from old-growth wood, so by replacing it with this, you no longer contribute to the destruction of our forests.
10. Cut down on animal products in your diet. Not only do livestock release more greenhouse gases per year than cars, trains, or planes, but forests are routinely bulldozed to provide pastures for this growing industry. The less you can contribute to this problem, the better. We even suggest thinking about going entirely vegetarian or vegan to eliminate your personal contribution to this industry.
Bonus For Scrolling All The Way Down
This eleventh tip is a bonus, because it doesn’t really fit under “easy.” Though you will recoup your money over time: Swap out old appliances like refrigerators, furnaces and AC units for newer high-efficiency models. This can dramatically lower your energy costs and consumption.
These tips will not only make your life healthier and cut your energy bill, but if we all do our part we can have a significant impact on the environment.
Photo credit: Vierdrie