25 Surprising and Simple Tips for a Greener Life

By Tyler NordgrenDec 1, 2007 12:00 AM


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Conservation isn’t sexy, it’s not fun, and while you're turning down the thermostat,it's easy to forget that that kind of thing can change the world. But it doesn’t cost much of anything, it’s easy, and, yes, diminishing the impact you have on the world will make a difference. Follow these 25 tips for a cheaper, more efficient and, of course, greener life.

1.  Set your thermostat comfortably low in the winter and comfortably high in the summer. Install a programmable thermostat that is compatible with your heating and cooling system.

2.  Use compact fluorescent light bulbs. They produce 75% less heat (i.e. energy) than regular light bulbs and can last up to 10 times longer.

3 . Air dry dishes instead of using your dishwasher's drying cycle.

4.  Turn off your computer and monitor when not in use. This is not bad for your computer and hasn’t been since the days of mainframe computing.

5.  On average, idle machines use 11 percent of a home’s electricity. Turn them off! Plug electronics into power strips and turn thepower strips off when the equipment is not in use.

6.  Lower the thermostat on your hot water heater to 120° F.

7.  Take short showers (5 minutes) with high-efficiency showerheads. Skip the bath.

8.  Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes.

9.  If you’re buying a new car in an urban center with bumper-to-bumper traffic, check out a hybrid. If you usually use your car for long stretches on the highway, an efficient gas engine—or better yet, modern diesel engine—may be even more eco-friendly than the hybrid. And while you’re driving around in your old vehicle be frugal with the gas and brakes. Speeding ,rapid acceleration and braking wastes gasoline.

10.  With nothing more than proper insulation, most homes can cut their bills by over 30%. Check the insulation levels in your attic, exterior and basement walls, ceilings, floors, and crawl spaces.

11.  Check for holes or cracks around your walls, ceilings, windows, doors, lights and plumbing fixtures, switches, and electrical outlets that can leak air into or out of your home. Caulk and insulate everywhere.

12.  Do not leave fireplace dampers open. If you’re not sure if it’s open or close, double check.

13.  Use lighting controls—like occupancy sensors, dimmers, or timers—to reduce lighting energy use.

14.  If you’re home pre-dates 1980, reinsulate. Only 20% of homes built before 1980 are well insulated.

15.  Look to Amory Lovins, whose Colorado home grows bananas with a heating bill of less than $5 a month. What’s his secret? Loads of insulation. Adding insulation creates a more uniform temperature and increases comfort.

16.  Set your thermostat as low as is comfortable in the winter and as high as is comfortable in the summer. Make sure you’re winter temperature is not higher than your summer temperature and vice-versa.

17.  Clean or replace filters on furnaces at least once a month.

18.  Bleed trapped air from hot-water radiators once or twice a season. If you don’t know what this means, call a professional.

19.  Place heat-resistant radiator reflectors between exterior walls and the radiators. And make sure not to put heat-absorbing furniture—like a couch—in between the radiator and the room.

20.  Turn off kitchen, bath, and other exhaust fans within 20 minutes after you are done cooking or bathing.

21.  During the heating season, keep the draperies and shades on your south-facing windows open during the day to allow the sunlight to enter your home and closed at night.

22.  Insulate your electric hot-water storage tank and the first couple of feet of hot and cold water pipes connected to the heater.

23.  Drain a quart of water from your water tank every 3 months to remove sediment that impedes heat transfer and lowers the efficiency of yourheater.

24.  Screen savers use energy. Make sure your computer automatically switches to sleep mode and turn your monitors off if you can.

25.  Buy a laptop for your next computer. They use significantly less energy than desktop computers.

You can find more tips and statistics and the sources for the statistics above at avariety of government websites. Check out the sites below:

Give yourself a home energy audit with this online calculator. Tips, definitions, and step-by-step how-to.

Should you replace that behemoth of a fridge? What effect will CFLs have in your home?

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