Tip #1 – Turn off the lights when not needed, even as you go from room to room in the course of your day (or evening)
According to ENERGY STAR, as much as 20 percent of a home’s energy use comes from light bulbs. Using a compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL) requires about 75 percent less energy than incandescent, but lights that are turned off save the most energy of all.
Tip #2 – Wash clothes in cold water (and honestly, the new cold-water detergents do the job just fine)
According to the US Department of Energy, a washing machine uses up to 90 percent of its energy to simply heat the water in a laundry load, and the higher the temperature, the greater the cost to you and the environment. Keeping your cool will save energy and make your clothes last longer, by using cold water.
Tip #3 – Clean the lint filter in your gas or electric clothes dryer, to realize big savings.
Tests have shown that keeping the lint trap clean may provide savings of up to $34 in energy costs each year (ENERGY STAR).
Tip #4 – Better yet, use a clothesline or clothes ‘tree’ and keep the dryer shut off.
An outdoor clothesline costs only a few dollars. You might also want to consider buying an indoor drying rack, so you can keep up your energy efficient ways even when it’s raining.
Tip #5 – Some local utilities now have low-impact hydro-electric windmills and solar farms contributing ‘green energy’ to their grid.
Find out if your local utility has such a program and ask if they give a discount for purchasing power from these ‘green’ generators. Tied with this is doing your laundry and other energy-intensive activity in mid-day or late evening, when demands on the grid are less.
Tip #6 – Isolate your fridge, for its own good
If your fridge is beside a vent, stove or dishwasher (which give off a lot of heat) your fridge will have to work hard and use more energy to keep its cool. If possible, keep the fridge isolated and reap the financial rewards.
Tip #7 – Forego cleaning products for plain old hot water and white vinegar – the ultimate green living product. If you need something more powerful, most department stores now carry lines of easily identifiable environmentally friendly cleaning products that are less toxic and come in recyclable packaging.
Tip #8 – Make the green grass of home a hardy perennial
Perennial ryegrass and drought-tolerant fescue are grass types that need less watering and chemical care. Use a healthy layer of mulch to reduce weed growth, retain moisture in the soil and keep roots cool, which again lessens the strain on the community’s water supplies. And don’t mind the beneficial bugs, birds, frogs and toads that might make your backyard their home as a result.
Tip #9 – Buy biodegradable pots for your home and garden
Buying plants already potted in bridgeable materials, like bamboo, coconut, rice or wheat fiber, rather than plastic, will eliminate another step in the recycling process.
Tip #10 – Whether it’s bedding, furniture, flooring or wall and window coverings, shop green and leave the plastics behind
Draperies, window blinds, and shades are all now available in natural fibers such as cotton, hemp, linen, wood, reeds, silk or bamboo. Upholstered furniture containing silk, wool, latex or natural rubber are emerging, as are sofas and chairs stuffed with a foam product made from soybeans. In this manner, we can eliminate the need for petroleum-based foam stuffing in our houses, saving thousands of barrels of crude oil in the process.
Additionally, ask for ‘reclaimed wood’ in new flooring or furniture. Reclaimed and recycled wood from salvaged timbers found in old barns, homes, bridges and even sunk at the bottom of our creeks and rivers can also be used to reduce chemically-treated wood for floors, furniture and construction supports.