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Energy Saving Tips for Dishwasher

A dishwasher is one of the indispensable appliances in many homes today. It makes dish washing a lot easier and more convenient, thus helping you save a lot of extra time. However, the dishwasher also accounts for a big percentage in energy consumption at home. But by observing several energy-saving tips, you can greatly reduce the amount of energy you consume in dish washing.

Dishwasher Energy-Saving Tips

1. Don’t pre-rinse dishes before loading them to the dishwasher

You can save water as well as time by not pre-rinsing dishes before loading them to the dishwasher. Modern dishwashers are now powerful enough to remove all grime, grease and dirt from dishes. What you can do is to scrape-off leftover food and remove liquid from dishes and the dishwasher will take care of the rest. If there is really a need to pre-rinse, use cold water to save energy on heating.

2. Follow the instruction manual when operating dishwasher

Take time to read the instruction manual for your dishwasher and learn how to properly use it. By following the manufacturer’s instruction especially on how to load dishes, you can achieve maximum efficiency and save energy and water.

3. Utilize the “no-heat air-dry” feature to dry dishes

This feature doesn’t require heating so it lets you save energy. Use this feature if your dishwasher has one. But if you are using older models, you can simply turn off the dishwasher after the final rinse and open its door to air-dry. However, according to some users who tried this method, one major drawback of doing this is the increased spotting in dishes. But it is still worth trying; see for yourself how it will affect your dishes and how much energy you can save.

4. Dry dishes the old-fashioned way     

If you don’t like to have spots on your dishes and still save on energy, better dry the dishes the old fashioned way using a dish towel.

5. Use only the dishwasher in full loads

Regardless, if it’s half-full or fully loaded, the dishwasher will consume the same amount of water in washing so better wait until it’s fully loaded before you turn on the switch. However, be careful also not to overload it as overloading can also cause inefficiency and other malfunctions. If it takes more than a day to get a full load, you can use the rinse and hold feature if your dishwasher has. This is more economical in terms of the amount of water used in pre-rinsing each item.

6. Use the setting that has the most energy saving

Majority of newer models of dishwasher now has energy-saving cycles and settings. As most of the energy in dishwashing is consumed for heating the water, by using the “green” setting, you will be able to use less energy for the same load of dishes.

7. Practice regular dishwasher maintenance

After days or weeks of using the dishwasher, food particles and grime can accumulate in the dishwasher drain and get clogged. This in turn affects the efficiency of the dishwasher. By regularly cleaning the drain, this can maximize the full capacity of your dishwasher while consuming the same amount of energy.

These tips are not all-encompassing. You may have other tested and proven ways to save on energy in using the dishwasher. But nevertheless, by observing these simple tips, you can greatly save on energy consumption and reduce your electricity or water bill.

Thanks to Europro

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The Problem with Plastics

Studies have shown that water and other beverages in plastic containers may not be safe or desirable. Chemicals in the plastics can leak out into the water. These chemicals may cause a variety of health problems such as cancers, an increased risk of miscarriage, and interference with the body’s hormonal system.

The manufacture of plastic bottles uses large amounts of energy and generates toxic pollutants. Plus, although these plastics may be recycled, millions of plastic bottles end up in landfills each year.

Metal Water Bottles Are a Better Choice

A healthy goal is to stay hydrated by drinking lots of water. It’s still a good plan to carry water with you as you travel, play sports, or go to the gym. In this era of green practices, the new focus is on staying hydrated in the most eco-friendly way.

•    Instead of buying spring water, use filtered tap water.

•    Replace those plastic bottles with portable metal water bottles.

•    Aluminum bottles, such as those made by Sigg, are safe to use and can be reused repeatedly. They can also be recycled eventually

•    Stainless steel bottles, such as those made by Klean Kanteen, are easy to clean and maintain. They can also fit into bicycle water bottle cages.

There are many sources for buying the new metal water bottles. Look in health food and natural food markets. Check out camping and backpacking supply stores. Some coffee shops carry both hot and cold bottles. And, of course, there are many online sources.

As metal bottles become more popular, there are many new brands popping up. Be sure to choose bottles that have non-toxic and non-leaching liners. Metal bottles come in a wide variety of sizes, colors, and patterns. Ideally they should be both durable and lightweight. A wise consumer always researches brands and product quality before buying.

In Summary:

– Be certain that you are choosing a bottle that does not leach, check the recycling symbol on your bottle.

–  If it is a #2 HDPE (high density polyethylene), or a #4 LDPE (low density polyethylene), or a #5 PP (polypropylene), your bottle is fine.

–  The type of plastic bottle in which water is usually sold is usually a #1, and is only recommended for one time use. Do not refill it.

–  Better to use a reusable water bottle, and fill it with your own filtered water from home and keep these single-use bottles out of the landfill. Unfortunately, those fabulous colorful hard plastic lexan bottles made with polycarbonate plastics and identified by the #7 recycling symbol, may leach BPA.

Useful Tips

•    You can carry drinking water in those metal travel coffee mugs, also.

•    Recycle your old plastic Nalgene bottles.

•    Rinse your water bottles frequently and thoroughly.

•    Cut in lemon or lime slices for extra flavor.

•    Add electrolyte powder mixes for that sports drink boost.

•    Get a bottle that can clip on to your belt or tote for easy transport.

Thanks to Who’s green

what kind of bottles you use? share your views in the comments section below.

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January:

  • Organize your home improvement files. Review warranties and product manuals to check on recommended maintenance for furnaces, equipment, appliances and tools. Mark your calendar to track scheduled upkeep and service.
  • Inspect furniture, cabinets and vanities for loose knobs, pulls and hinges. Tighten or repair as necessary. Lubricate squeaky door hinges with lightweight machine oil. Free sticky doors by trimming edges or shimming hinges with thin pieces of cardboard.
  • Fix squeaks in floors and stairs by applying weight to the area (having a partner stand on it works) and driving an 8d or 12d galvanized finish nail through the flooring into a floor joist or stringer. If you have access to the floor from underneath, glue and screw backs to the floor or treads and to the joist or stringer.
  • Look for bargains on discontinued appliances and tools. Before buying, make sure that warranties are valid.
  • Make a room-by-room inventory of everything in your house. In the event of fire, flood or other disaster, it will be important in filing an insurance claim. Photographs or video of your possessions can also be helpful.
  • Don’t close vents to crawl spaces. If you live where pipes can freeze and the floor becomes very cold, insulate pipes and under the floor. Vents play an important role in controlling condensation beneath a house.
  • Double-check insulation around exterior pipes that are exposed to freezing weather to be certain that water cannot seep under the insulation.

February:

  • Remove drain traps under sinks and clean them thoroughly. Clean pop-up drain plugs. Inspect the linkage for pop-up drains to make sure they are set properly. To adjust the linkage, squeeze the finger-operated pressure lock to release it and slide it up or down as necessary.
  • Inspect grout and caulk around tubs, sinks and showers. Chip out cracked grout and replace missing grout. Stained, discolored and mildewed caulk should be cleaned with trisodium phosphate or other household cleaner. If the caulk remains discolored, remove it and replace it with fresh, mildew-resistant caulk.
  • Refinish furniture in a heated garage or workspace equipped with ventilation fans. Otherwise, use water-based strippers, paints, stains and varnishes that are especially formulated for low odors.
  • Musty closet odors can be reduced or eliminated by removing the closet’s contents and washing walls with a diluted solution of chlorine bleach. In addition, try replacing solid doors with louvered doors. Note: If the mustiness is the result of moisture, find the source and correct it. Otherwise the problem will come back.
  • To keep valves from sticking and check for leaks, turn all water valves off and on. This includes outdoor faucets and valves to toilets, bathroom and kitchen sinks, laundry, bar, etc.

March:

  • Daylight Saving Time begins. Honor the occasion by replacing batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Review the contents of your medicine cabinets and throw away dated prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines. Be sure all medicines are out of the reach of children or contained in a cabinet equipped with childproof locks.
  • Celebrate spring by cleaning the garage. Hold a yard sale, or organize a community yard sale with neighbors. Dispose of paint thinners, household cleaners and pesticides properly. Contact your city’s department of public works to find out the next scheduled collection of hazardous materials.
  • Clean the refrigerator, inside and out, with mild detergent. Remove all trays and shelves, wash, and allow to dry thoroughly before replacing them. Remove old ice from ice-making tray.
  • After heavy rains, inspect your basement walls for signs of moisture. If you detect wetness, run a portable dehumidifier. If condition persists, consult a waterproofing contractor.
  • Check to make sure your sump pump works properly by pouring water into the pump silo to raise the float and activate the motor.
  • Test the pressure and temperature relief valve on your water heater by opening it and allowing some water to flow out. If little or no water flows out or it doesn’t shut off, replace it. Bad valves can cause explosions.
  • Spring is a good time to build a doghouse. Make sure to provide adequate roof ventilation to allow hot air to escape. And don’t use pressure-treated wood in any area where your dog might chew it.

April:

  • Inspect screens (both house and vent screens to attic or crawl space) for tears and bent frames.
  • Clean window screens. Lay them flat on a picnic table or a pair of sawhorses and scrub them with a soft bristle brush and a mild detergent solution. Rinse with a garden hose and allow to dry thoroughly.
  • Inspect outdoor structures for deterioration — especially signs of rot. Use a small awl to probe posts, railings and window sills for soft spots. If you find any, plan to replace or repair them when the weather turns fair.
  • Prepare for the outdoor cooking season by inspecting gas grills. Remove cooking grills and thoroughly clean them with soapy water and a brush with brass bristles. Remove accumulated grease from lava rocks and ceramic briquettes by turning them over and igniting the burners. Allow 10 minutes on high heat to clean the briquettes.
  • Inspect garden hoses for leaks. Make temporary repairs with electrical tape. Pry out old washers and replace them. Don’t leave hoses connected to outdoor spigots until the danger of frost is completely over.
  • Caulk open joints, particularly around windows and doors.
  • Inspect the crawl space or basement after rains for water accumulation or excessive moisture. Look for signs of water damage on the subfloor and joists beneath bathrooms, the kitchen and laundry. Find and fix leaks now or pay the price later.
  • Shut off the water to the washing machine, remove the water supply hoses and examine them and the washers. Replace worn and damaged ones.
  • Check fire extinguishers to make sure they are not outdated, have lost pressure or are damaged.
  • Check all weatherstripping around doors and windows for wear, damage or loss of flexibility. Replace material that is no longer blocking air.
  • Clean your garbage disposal. Grind two trays of ice cubes made from a mixture of one cup white vinegar to one gallon of water.

May

  • Clean gutters. Inspect gutters to ensure all spikes, straps and clips are tightly fastened. Use a garden hose to flush debris from downspouts. Make sure downspouts or splashbacks direct water at least three feet away from the foundation.
  • Wash windows, inside and out, using a solution made from three tablespoons of non-sudsy ammonia to 1 gallon of water. Don’t work in the direct sun — the solution will dry too fast and streak. To clean windows with real (not removable) grills, use a hacksaw to cut a squeegee so it fits the windowpanes exactly.
  • Have central air-conditioning unit checked according to the recommendations of the unit’s manufacturer. Replace the filter in the forced-air system. Clean debris from condenser or heat pump located outside.
  • Remove mineral deposits from faucet aerators and shower heads by soaking parts in white vinegar and scrubbing with an old toothbrush.
  • Have swimming pools cleaned. Inspect and service pool liners and filters.
  • Shop for seasonal sales on air-conditioning units and window fans.
  • Dust ceiling fan blades.
  • Set thermostats and automatic sprinkler systems to adjust for weather changes.
  • Before placing metal patio furniture outdoors, coat it with auto polish.
  • Clean your garbage disposal. Grind two trays of ice cubes made from a mixture of one cup white vinegar to one gallon of water.

June:

  • Clean and seal decks. Ideally, you’ll need three consecutive warm, sunny days. On day one, dry out the deck. Apply deck cleaner and scrub the deck on the second day and let it dry 24 hours. On the third day, apply deck sealer.
  • Hire a certified chimney sweep to inspect and clean chimneys. Doing this task now instead of the fall allows plenty of time for repairs before the next heating season. It’s also easier to schedule a sweep.
  • Wash the exterior of your house, using ordinary garden hose pressure and a mild detergent. Beware of the pressure washers — they are powerful enough to force water under the siding where it may encourage mildew and rot.
  • Caulk exterior joints around window and doors.
  • Clean lint from the entire clothes dryer vent system, from the dryer to the exterior vent cap.
  • Inspect and repair or repaint all patio and deck furniture.
  • Check operation of attic fans and roof-mounted turbine vents

July:

  • Check all exterior walls for peeling or cracked paint. If you decide to repaint your house yourself, you can cut this job down to size by painting just one or two walls per year. Typically, paint on south and west-facing walls deteriorates faster and requires more frequent recoating than paint on north or east-facing walls.
  • Carefully inspect brick or masonry siding for cracks or missing mortar. Repair with fresh mortar or concrete caulk.
  • Inspect roofing material for cracks and loose or missing shingles and repair as necessary. If you have access to attic spaces, check underneath the roof for stains that indicate leaks, especially from “flashed” areas in roof valleys and around chimneys and vent stacks.
  • Inspect the operation of automatic light timers and motion-detector systems, especially if you plan a vacation.
  • Prune trees and shrubs so that branches do not come in contact with exterior siding.
  • Clean and repair cracks in concrete driveways using epoxy patching material. Repair asphalt driveways using asphalt patching material. Seal asphalt driveways every other year.
  • Inspect foundation walls for signs of termites –tunnels or dirt bridges. If you suspect termites, contact a professional exterminator.

August:

  • Use a vacuum with a narrow nozzle to clean condenser coils on the back or underneath your refrigerator.
  • Check faucets for leaks and replace washers or repair the faucet as necessary.
  • Clean underneath range hood. Remove and clean or replace range hood filters.
  • Fix “water hammer” noises by draining the plumbing system. Open the uppermost faucet (or the one furthest from the water meter) and the lowest (or closest to the meter) and allow the water to flow to a lower-level sink or floor drain. Draining the system restores air to air chambers. Close the lowest faucet and refill the system.
  • Plan interior remodeling projects and get estimates. Plan for the work to be done in early fall

September:

  • Paint interior rooms while it’s still warm enough to leave windows open. Ditto for shampooing or replacing carpets.
  • Check heating system including filters, pilot lights, and burners, and have the system serviced by a qualified professional.
  • Clean and vacuum dust from vents, baseboard heaters and cold-air returns.
  • Remove window air-conditioning units and store them. If they are not removable, cover them with plastic to protect them over the winter.
  • Tour the outside of your house to make sure that soil around the foundation is properly graded. Soil should slope four to six inches for a distance of three feet out from the foundation walls.
  • Watch for year-end close-out sales on lawn and garden equipment.
  • Inspect storm windows for any signs of deterioration and make necessary repairs.

October

  • Detach hoses in case of freezing temperatures. Remove all paints, caulks and liquid materials from garage or garden sheds.
  • Inspect weatherstripping around doors and windows and repair or replace if necessary. Learn more about caulking and weatherstripping.
  • Set thermostats and automatic sprinklers for winter. Clean gutters after leaves have fallen. Make sure downspouts are in good repair.
  • Check gauges on home fire extinguishers to ensure a full charge. Replace if necessary.

November: 

  • When setting clocks back to Standard Time, change batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Inspect automatic garage door opener and lubricate according to the manufacturer’s directions. Make sure all bolts and screws are properly tightened and secured.
  • Check for leaks around washing machine. A prime suspect for leaks are the water supply hose washers. Inspect hoses and replace if necessary.
  • Clean dishwasher, trash compactor and counter top appliances.

December:

  • Check the operation of all ground-fault circuit interrupter outlets by pushing the “test” button. The “reset” button should pop out, indicating the receptacle is operating properly. Press in the reset button.
  • Check inside bathroom vanities and kitchen sink cabinets for moisture and other signs of leaks. Carefully inspect pipes for condensation or slow drips. Repair the plumbing system if necessary.
  • Review the family fire escape plan with every household member.
  • Unpack and test all electrical holiday decorations. Repair or discard any that do not function properly.
  • Watch for sales on tools before and after the holiday season.

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ImageGarages are notorious for sucking in hot air during warm summer months and cold air in the bitter winter months.

If your garage is attached to your home, it can affect your home heating and cooling efficiency. It can also affect the air quality in your home.

  • With an attached garage, the main thing you want to do is keep the carbon monoxide from your autos, as well as the fumes from any stored materials, from entering your living space.
  • If you keep the fumes out, you help keep the heat and cold out as well.

Start by air sealing

The best place to start is by sealing any and all air leaks between the garage and your living space.

INTERIOR WALLS. Inspect any walls or doors that lead into your home from your garage. You want to use caulking and weatherstripping to seal all cracks, gaps, and spaces that you find. If there is a gap between the garage floor and the wall, be sure to fill that in. You can use the expanding foam type insulation if the gap is too large for caulking.

DOORS. It is extremely important to seal around any door that leads into your home.

EXTERIOR WALLS. Next, you want to seal any and all air leaks on the exterior walls. If the exterior walls have any windows, be sure to caulk and weatherstrip around those as well.

Insulation is next

The next step is to make sure the garage is well insulated.

If you have an older home, there is a good chance that the garage is not as well insulated as the rest of your home.

  • You want enough insulation in the attic above the garage to achieve a reflective value of at least R-30 (10 inches of insulation) or higher.
  • Determining whether your garage walls are insulated properly or not is tough to do by yourself, unless you can remove a piece of sheetrock fairly easily.

A home energy auditor with a “thermal imaging camera” can tell you in a heartbeat whether your walls are insulated. That’s an option you have to decide for yourself, depending on how much time you spend in your garage, and how energy efficient you want to make it.

If you determine the garage walls do need insulation, the easiest way to remedy the situation is by hiring a contractor that does blow-in insulation.

Other energy efficiency tips

Here are some other energy efficiency tips for garages:

  • Use compact fluorescent light bulbs to save on electricity.
  • Use concrete sealant to repair any and all cracks in the floor.
  • Make sure your garage door has a good bottom seal. If yours is worn out, replace it. They are available at most home improvement centers.
  • Consider investing in a garage door insulation kit. There are several to choose from, most range in price from $80 to $160.
  • On hot summer days, wait for the car to cool down before pulling in the garage.
  • On cold winter days, pull it right in.
  • If the hot sun is pouring through any windows, consider installing a solar screen.

Thanks to Green home guide

Please share your views & ideas about how you would like to green your garage in the comments section below.

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10 EASY HALLOWEEN PROJECTS THAT COST LESS THAN $5

Combine a few discount store items and stuff you’ve already got lying around the house to make devilishly inexpensive Halloween decorations.

Spooky Banner

Create an inexpensive banner using kraft paper and ribbon. Our letters were printed on card stock. Make the ruffled border with a sheet of decorative paper cut into strips, accordion-folded, then glued to the back of each letter. Punch a hole in the ruffles and thread a piece of ribbon or twine through for hanging.


Terrariums

No need for a green thumb. All you need are recycled food jars, twigs, black spray paint, a little cotton and a few toy spiders. Paint the jar lids and twigs black. Then fill the inside of the lids with dirt, twigs, spiders and cotton ghosts. Screw the jars onto the lids and place the terrariums on the windowsill Learn More

Coffee Filter Garland

This Halloween garland is made from basic white coffee filters. You just need an inexpensive needle, some ribbon or twine and a bit of time. We created chair garland, but you could make garland for a mantel, window or banister for Halloween or any occasion. Learn More

Countdown Calendar

Kids love to count down the days until Halloween. Use a bulletin board, mini paper bags and printable numbers to create this easy countdown calendar. Fill the bags with mini candy bars, gumballs or notes. Learn More

Picture Lanterns

This Halloween, line your front walkway with picture-frame lanterns. Print on vellum paper black-and-white drawings (with medical and Halloween themes)found on the Internet. Insert the prints in four dollar-store picture frames. Nail together the four frames in a square, then place a candle inside the frames. Learn More

Specimen Jars

Fill old glass jars with plastic rats, toy bugs and doll heads then add a little colored water. Fill out manila tags with the name of your specimen – shrunken heads, poisonous tarantulas, baby rats and the like – and wrap the jar with twine and the tag. Learn More

Welcome Trick-or-Treaters

Dress up your entry with a spider-web welcome sign. We removed the glass from a thrift-store picture frame, fastened small tacks onto the back of the frame then zigzagged ribbon and stretchy cotton across the tacks to create a web. Interlace some spiders and “Welcome” letters into the web for more fun! Learn More

“Dripping” Candles

Dribble glue from a hot-glue gun all over a piece of PVC pipe and a foam cup to make what looks like a long-burning candle. Insert a much-safer battery-operated tea light in the middle to make the candle glow. If the candles are placed under a black light, they will glow in the dark – perfect for any haunted house. Project To Try

Paper Lantern

To make your Halloween night or evening party really scary, embellish inexpensive paper lanterns with spiders, bugs and creepy-crawlies made from card stock. Learn More


Eight-Legged Cake

Cover a plain box cake with black icing to create a little critter and add cute spider eyes and eight polka-dot legs. This simple project is perfect for a children’s party or school gathering. Learn More

Thanks to DIY Network
Do you have any interesting Halloween ideas to share with us? Please feel free to share in the comments section below.
Happy Halloween!!! 🙂

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Step 1: Check for Drafts

First, determine if any air is flowing through your closed windows. A great way to do this is to hold a lit candle close to the window seams. If the flame bends, then it could be signs of a draft.

Also check the caulk on the outside window frame. Exterior caulk can dry out in the heat of summer. If you find a whole lot of gaps and cracks, it’s time to re-caulk.

check for drafts

Step 2: Remove Old Caulking if Necessary

Use caulk softener to help you remove the old caulking. It should be applied at least two hours in advance to give it a chance to work. Once the old caulking becomes soft enough, it should come up fairly easily with a putty knife or five-in-one tool. You must remove as much of the old caulk as possible to ensure that the new caulking will adhere properly and give the window a good seal.

Step 3: Apply New Caulking As Needed

Polyurethane caulk works for both small and large gaps, so one tube should take care of a whole window. To begin, cut the tip off of the tube of caulk at a 45-degree angle so that the tip will fit nicely into the window seam, and load it into a caulking gun.

Clean the surface as best as you can and make sure there are no traces of old caulking still left. Push the caulk along the seam in a smooth motion (Image 1). When filling larger gaps, move more slowly to let the caulk adequately fill the space. Finally, use a wet finger to smooth out the caulk and give it a clean, finished look (Image 2).

Give the caulking 12-15 hours to dry and set, and your windows should be airtight for the season.

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ImageMany of us can’t afford solar panels or a new hybrid car — and newly produced items like those can actually add to a personal carbon footprint, because of the energy and resources needed to make them.

But there are simple, constructive ways to reduce your carbon shoe size without the big price tag.  Here are some easy everyday choices and actions can make a huge difference:

 

Buy organic and local

When possible, buy organic or “fair trade.” There’s a better chance the food was grown in an eco-friendly way, and if it’s locally grown, it didn’t have to travel that far. This also goes for those double lattes — coffee often has a large carbon footprint because of the distance those beans had to travel to get here, and how they were produced. Also, try eating at restaurants that serve locally produced or seasonal foods.

Pay attention to packaging

When out shopping, try to go to stores or co-ops that keep packaging to a minimum. For example, you may chose to buy the loose tomatoes rather than boxed or plastic-wrapped tomatoes. Also, take reusable bags to the grocery store. When it comes to resources, plastic is better than paper — but a reusable cloth tote-style bag is better still.

Bye Bye bottled water

Bottled water has a huge carbon footprint — it’s bottled at one location in small plastic bottles and shipped all over. Try buying a reusable water bottle or canteen for your water. Also, a lot of restaurants have made the move from offering fancy bottled water, usually imported from an exotic source, to using in-house filtration systems that make tap water a good choice. Many plastic water bottles are recycled, but most are not, making the footprint even bigger.

Energy-proof your home

We’re not talking major upgrades here… Make sure all of your windows close properly and that the attic in your home is properly insulated. This can save you big bucks on your energy bill. Also, keep your heating and cooling systems properly maintained, and switch to reusable filters when possible. Try switching from incandescent to compact florescent light bulbs. Compact florescent light bulbs use about 75 percent less energy than our normal light bulbs and last much longer. Compared to regular bulbs, the fluorescents are more expensive, but they will eventually pay for themselves due to lower energy costs.

Go native

Use native plant species to landscape around your home or business. The plants will probably grow better in a familiar environment, and the plants may also get shipped a shorter distance to get to your local nursery. Also, use organic soil when planting — it’s made using more eco-friendly methods, and uses less resources. And remember, green plants are a good way to offset carbon. So plant something, anything — it helps.

Window shop

If you have the urge to spend, try window shopping or browsing first. This helps ensure you are only buying things you really need, or really want, and you’re not just impulse buying. Remember, every item in a store, no matter how small, has a footprint — so if we are conscious consumers, we can reduce our own footprint and the overall footprint of our nation.

Take a direct flight

If you need to travel by airplane, try taking a direct flight when at all possible. Your impact is reduced when you take one flight, as opposed to hopping on a couple or more passenger jets to reach your final destination. You might also feel a little less harried when you arrive, because changing planes can be a real hassle.

Switch water heaters to vacation mode

Most water heaters have a “vacation” setting for when you are away from home for an extended period of time. Switching to that “away” mode still keeps the water warm, but will not use the energy it takes to keep a tank full of piping-hot water. Enjoy your vacation even more, knowing that you’re saving money and reducing your footprint.

Unplug it!

Unplug appliances that you don’t use frequently. Most electronics have a standby mode that siphons energy even when not in use. Cell phone chargers, laptops, televisions, stereos — there’s a whole list of items that should be unplugged when not in use. Try using a power strip for groups of electronic items. One flick of the switch and it’s all off.

Keep your car

With gas prices seemingly always on the rise, it’s tempting to buy a hybrid or electric vehicle. But if your older-model car is in good condition, you’re better off keeping it in good running condition. Even hybrids create a big footprint when they’re built, so consider driving that old clunker for a little while longer. Also, try more eco-friendly modes of transport when possible, like buses, trains, a bicycle, telecommuting or even walking.

Chuck your microwave

Admittedly, this is a bit drastic. But this speaks more to those convenient frozen dinners some rely on because of their busy schedules. A freezer full of meals is actually more energy-intensive — it costs more to freeze foods, ship them cold, display them frozen in the grocery store and keep them frozen in our homes. So while the modern convenience of the microwave and the Lean Cuisine is enticing, it’s much more resource-intensive. Cook fresh food when you can, and you’ll also find yourself eating out less often.

Use cold water

No, not in the shower… but maybe in the washer. Try using cold water to launder things that don’t need to be cleaned in hot or warm water. It takes a lot of energy to heat up water — multiply that by the number of loads, and that’s a big footprint. Most major detergent makers sell detergents designed to have the same cleaning power as with regular soap. Try washing mixed loads in cold water, too.

Have the family over

Family gatherings are a good way to spend some quality time with loved ones, with very little carbon impact. Cooking and entertaining for larger groups is more efficient and, per person, a lot less expensive. And who can put a price on these “carbon freebies”?

Make time for errands

A lot of us try to run errands in-between work and other commitments. Try bundling errands together to reduce how far you need to travel. Going back-and-forth to the same part of town on different days to run errands uses more gas than if you planned and did everything in the same area all at once. And if you really want to make it a “carbon freebie,” try carpooling and running errands with a buddy.

The Three Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

It seems like something from a kid’s sing-a-long, but sometimes we lose sight of just how much we buy. Try buying less, and reusing and fixing things when you can instead of buying new. And for a lot of people, recycling is as easy as rolling the trash bin to the curb. Just remember to do it at work, too.

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