How can I be more environmentally responsible, "green"?
Dave - I really want to do the right thing and start being more environmentally responsible, so, what can we do to be more "Green"??
p.s. - We just got married, have an older home, and really don't have the money to go out and buy new energy efficient technology and appliances.
I'm glad you asked because there really are a quite a lot of easy adjustments you can make that won't cost anything at all and several will actually save you money. The general rule in becoming more "green�? is to generally follow the principle that "less is more�?. Less water usage, less electricity usage, less "disposables" usage, these all contribute to a greener home and lifestyle. Here are a few that you can do right away.
Heating & Cooling
Remember to close the doors on rooms you use infrequently. In addition, close off the vents/ducts entering those rooms, which will enable you to not waste energy to heat and cool rooms that you infrequently use.
Adjust your home thermostat by increments of one degree. In the summer, set your thermostat one degree warmer and in winter, make it one degree cooler. In a day or two, you won't notice it, but you will when the utility bill comes. (1 to 2 degree change will generally translate into a 3-to- 4 % savings on the utility bill)
When it is hot outside and you want to keep the house cooler, keep shades closed during the day on your east, west and north windows and delay heat-generating activities until evening. When it's cold and you want it warmer during the day keep your shades open on your south and west windows, but closed on the east and north. Always lower all shades at night to keep heat in.
Dry washed (or wet) items on a clothes line instead of throwing them in the dryer.
If you do need to use a dryer - keep lint cleaned out of the trap. The dryer will be much more efficient; clothes will dry faster, and not require extra runs.
Adjust the water heater (electric or gas) down to 120 degrees because that temperature is hot enough for nearly all normal household purposes, except dishwashers, most of which all have their own heating coil for the power scrubbing cycles. Just think how often you actually turn on the cold water faucet in order to cool off the hot water so you don't burn your hands. Keeping the same tank of water heated above 120 degrees day and night is just wasting energy, in fact, hot water accounts for about 30% of the average home's power bill.
Open windows and doors during the hotter spring days when there is a breeze blowing to save on air conditioning.
Dishwashers and washing machines should only be turned on when there is a nearly full load.
Let your dishwasher 'air dry' instead of using the heating element.
Close the fridge door after use. Try to reduce the number of times you open the refrigerator. The fridge is one of our biggest energy users in the home. Also while it may sound crazy, your refrigerator actually works best if the freezer is defrosted and full. This helps your refrigerator function at top efficiency and saves you money in the long run.
This is a BIGGY - Always make sure to turn things off when not using them. One of the biggest issues I have with a lot of people is that they tend to just leave a light on or a television on when they're not at home or in the room. What's the harm in turning them off? This is the simplest, easiest, most overlooked way to save energy and money. Remember your parents or grandparents always telling you to turn out the lights when you leave a room? Great advice! Do it now. If you aren't going to be using your computer for several days - turn it off completely. Otherwise, consider using the computer's "sleep mode," which cuts energy consumption by 60 to 70 percent, according to EPA estimates. We all have gotten a little forgetful or perhaps lazy an times and tend to leave lights and other types of electrical items on even when not in a room rather than just "flick" the switch.
Open the curtains and drapes for light during the daytime.
Fill up & seal a reused plastic bottle with water (or a brick) and put it in the tank of your toilet so it uses less water with each flush - this is an easy thing is to!
Grab that new spouse of yours then go wash & dry the dinner dishes by hand.
Only use the amount of water needed to do the jobs you need to do. Don't let the water run when brushing your teeth of washing your hands. Many of us brush our teeth as we watch and hear the bathroom faucet pour water down the drain, or take 30 minute showers, in part for the feeling of just being there 20 minutes after we really are "clean."
Using a broom instead of the garden hose to clean your sidewalk and driveway can save a lot of water
Wash your clothes in cold water with cold-wash laundry detergent. Studies have shown that washing in cold actually help the clothing last longer and they come just as clean. Apparently, hot water can shock the clothing and fade the colors after several washing even if you have the best detergent available. Cold water does not.
Set a timer for sprinklers. (Perhaps, an egg timer which you can set to make noise every half an hour). It's easy to forget you've got water running, so make an effort to remind yourself to either move the sprinkler or turn it off. This way you don't waste water.
Lifestyle & Miscellaneous
To cut down all that junk mail you throw in the trash, send your name, address, and signature to: Mail Preference Service, c/o Direct Marketing Association, P.O. Box 643, Carmel, NY 10512 and ask to be taken off mailing lists. You can also opt out of the endless stream of credit card offers by calling the credit reporting industry's toll-free line at (888) 567-8688.
Try to plan your route in order to combine errands when out with the car, so, you drive less.
Save your grocery & shopping bags (paper or plastic), they can be reused for all types of purposes: cleaning the cat box, lining the bathroom garbage can, take them back to the store and reuse them again, the plastic ones are great for line paint trays with the plastic ones (just throw out when your done).
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