The Low Down On Green Living
June 10th, 2008
The heat of summer is coming, and that means many of us are about to crank up the AC, make an extra batch of ice, and generally burn energy like it’s our job. But we need all need to continue to try to conserve as much energy as possible to conserve resources and slow the march of global warming. And we get to save money at the same time–woo hoo to that!
Here are the ten things we can all do at home to cut our energy consumption. We start out nice and easy, then ramp up to some extra-credit methods at the end of the list for you Climate Crusaders.
1. Resist the urge to live in a refrigerator. 78 degrees is plenty cool in the house. Turn down the AC and get a programmable thermostat so you’re only cooling the house when you really need to.
2. Air dry your dishes and clothes. The dryer and dish washer use a lot of energy– and the air does the drying job just as well. See some great clothes-drying racks here.
3. Take shorter showers and do not take baths. Hot water heating is one of the major uses of energy in any home. Showers are the way to go– and keep ’em short. Baths use much more water and heat than do baths (unless you’re taking 30 minute showers!).
4. Make sure you have energy-efficient lighting throughout your home. Everyone has heard about compact fluorescent lights by now– but are you up to date on LED lights? Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) have come a long way, baby, and they are often 10 times more efficient than compact fluorescents.
5. Ditch the beer fridge. It’s amazing how many homes have two refrigerators. Please do not use more than one fridge. And if you have an old model, get a newer Energy Star model.
6. Use ceiling fans rather than AC. They are much more energy-efficient and you can get very reasonably priced Energy Star models.
7. Get solar screens for your windows. These screens cut 75% of the heat coming through your windows, but don’t impact your visibility. They are really great energy savers. See them here.
8. Plant trees! Placing deciduous trees on the South side of your home is a great way to block summer heat, but keep the sun shining on your home in the winter when you need the warmth.
9. Spend one night each week in candlelight. It’s romantic, fun and inspires new conversation. If you’ve got kids, how about turning off the TV one night and playing a board game by candlelight? Clue would be particularly spooky!
10. Use a solar oven for some cooking. They really work! You don’t want that hot oven on in your house anyway. You can either buy a solar oven, or you can learn to make one yourself. It’s another fun summer activity to do with your kids.
** #11: For the truly hard core, here’s a great tip I learned in Africa. If you don’t have or don’t use AC, at night you can wet a scarf or towel or sheet and lay it on your chest. The evaporative cooling effect will really do the trick for you. Sleep tight!
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