I have continued to read about our climate and energy crisis over and over again in the past few months. I have started to change the way I use energy and oil related products, despite all the marketing and advertising messages I encounter every day. Amazingly saving energy also saves money, so it really is good on 2 levels. Here are my top ten ways to save energy, conserve resources and save the planet by living more ecologically friendly:
1. Use the compact flourescent light bulbs in ALL your lights, lamps and fixtures. Seriously buy as many as you can, and use them in everything that they can fit in. Your electric bill will permanently be cut in half.
2. Turn off lights, appliances and other electrics in any room you’re not in. This is easier for someone like me that lives alone, but why do you need lights in a room you’re not in?
3. Turn down the fridge and freezer. Trust me, your ice cream will be easier to scoop. Most fridges and freezers have dial settings from 1 to 10. I got mine on 6, but turned it down to 3. I tried this on an older fridge at my parents house and their ice cream was liquid. SO this is probably only good for fridges recently bought in the last 5-7 years. Or do it slowly and try one notch down at a time until you see how far you can go. And duh, buy the most energy efficient appliances in the first place if you are buying new ones. Look at the labels and pick on efficiency since it will be generating energy costs for the next 10-20 years.
4. Turn off or un-plug all non-essential electrics when your not home. I unplug the phone charger, the electric antenna for my TV, the DSL modem and the cordless phone because I dont need them sucking down energy when I’m not home and I don’t have an answering machine anyway. I also got rid of those plug in air freshners that light up. Totally un-necessary. I also turn off external hard drives and the printer when not in use. And it’s good to turn off the screen on the TV or computer if you get a call in the middle of watching something and hit pause for a half an hour.
5. Drive with nothing in your trunk or back seats (except your spare tire and basic tools need to change it). Also, inflate tires to proper levels. Most importantly though TURN THE CLIMATE CONTROL OFF!! This wastes soooo much gas, if it is air conditioning it wastes the most, if its just air circulating it does too. Just say no to climate control until it gets over 80 degrees out. Then well, we have to use the air conditioning or we’ll melt.
6. Turn off the air conditioning when I’m not home. If you live in a small place like mine, re-cooling it costs less than running it all day. If you have a big huge house, this may not be the case, but for those of us like me, it is the way to go. Also, close the drapes or shades to block out the sun and keep from getting warmer that way too. Make sure the seal around your window unit is taped shut so you aren’t letting in as much hot air as the cool air its making.
7. I have been buying less in general. Less clothes, less stuff. (I really have enough clothes that are made in china and shipped and trucked here with a lot of oil) I’m doing more digital online communication, and less paper. I pay bills online, not needing elvelopes or stamps. It sucks though if your credit card gets canceled for security stuff and you have to re-set everything up again.
8. Go Local, I only drive when I have to and limit my trips driving to a few a week. Needless to say I live by public transit, and take the electric train to work. (city visit once, burbs visit once, grocery once every 2 weeks) This way I fill up only 2 times a month. (I get 25 mpg, I’d like to get better mileage, but this car is paid off so I am sticking with it for a while)
9. Bike ride in the city rather than taking Cabs. My boyfriend is the champion of this one. He saves money and the earth all at the same time. Go Kev!
10. Limit your cell phone’s auto connecting feature. I have had issues doing this with my treo, both by running out of battery in less than a day (wasting energy) and causing pay per use charges I didn’t authorize since I took the internet connectivity off my plan. This saves the battery for when you really need it if you can get them to really take it off your phone. I am still wrangling with it though.
11. Don’t do dishes in the dishwasher or laundry until you’ve got a full load. If you live in a house with other people combine loads with them to save loads. Why not really? It saves soap and time too. You should have enough plates and underwear to last until the load is full right? Also, turn off the auto plate warmer part of the dishwasher cycle and just open the door a little. The plates will dry overnight and you don’t waste the electricity of 15 minutes of heating the racks. Drip dry if you can instead of using the dryer…in the summer this works on clotheslines, but in the winter not so much.
Got more practical suggestions? Leave me a comment and let me know: