Are you concerned about global warming? Do you fear that landfills will be located in every neighborhood polluting the air you breathe, the water system and the playgrounds your children pay in? Even if you aren’t an environmental guru or a “tree hugger,” there are several easy and inexpensive things you can do in your home to save energy and money. You don’t have to go out and spend thousands of dollars on upgrading your systems, such as electric, water and sewer. Contractors do not need to take over your home installing new doors and window treatments and solar energy power sources.
Recycle: If you do not believe that recycling makes a difference take this challenge. Notice how many bags of trash you have each day without recycling. Recycle for one week and you will see that you actually have more things in the recycling container than you do in the trash can
Here are a few tips for recycling: wash out the cans, jars, and other containers as you use them. Rinse out the cans while you are cooking. If you have any doubts look for the recycling symbol on the side of the container. You may be surprised. Many items are recyclable such as fruit and vegetable cans, two liters, milk cartons, juice containers, beer cans, pop cans, ready to feed containers of formula, glass, and even the boxes that your cereal, cereal bars and fruit snacks come in. I collect up my items in a bowl while I am cooking, walk over to the sink and rinse them out while I am doing the dishes. A plastic bag from Kroger’s or Wal-Mart sits inside one of the sinks and everything is dropped in there. This is easy to do, does not involve scrubbing and is good for the environment.
If you do not have a recycling service in your area there are a few ways you can recycle at home. Try using empty baby food jars to make your own candles. Take empty yogurt containers and fill them with paint or homemade play dough. You can even use a toilet paper roll to determine if an item is a choking hazard for your young child.
Purchase energy efficient light bulbs. To find out what light bulbs you should use in different appliances and fixtures visit http://www.environmentaldefense.org. You can choose according to style and shape, fixture and brightness as well as what color of light you would prefer. While you are there you can calculate the savings you will have after switching out all of your bulbs. In my case I switched from using 6-60 watt light bulbs regular light bulbs to energy efficient. By watching sales, I purchased the light bulbs for 1.78 each at Walgreen’s, so they are not much more expensive than regular bulbs. Over the course of the life of the new bulbs I will save approximately $200.00 in energy costs (and that is not all the bulbs in my house by any means – but I only change it as they go out) and the change will prevent 2500 pounds of CO2 being released in the air.
Install a programmable thermostat to control the heating and cooling in your home. You can program it to have a set temperature during the part of the day when no one is at home and adjust again for evenings, nights, and weekends. I purchased my programmable thermostat at Lowe’s for approximately $35.00. You can save 2% on your bill for every 1 degree you turn your thermostat down or up depending on the season. It is estimated that a programmable thermostat could save approximately $84.00 a year. Not only did I save money with a little investment but also saved the amount of carbon released into the air.
Should you be in the market for new appliances or a new car – go ahead and look for the Energy Star symbol. These products are governmentally endorsed as energy efficient and in many cases come with a government rebate – in the form of a credit on your income tax return. Yes, big ticket item but if you are replacing your old and outdated appliance spend a little more money on the item, save money monthly on the energy efficient one and get your income credit back. Sounds almost like free money!
Quick and easy tips for saving money and energy:
Turn off ceiling fans and lights at night. Just leave on the fans in the bedrooms. It will help keep the rooms cool. During the winter place fans on the reverse setting so that warm air will be blown down.
Unplug your chargers when they are not in use. We all do it, leave our cell phone, Swiffer or other appliance charger plugged in until the next time we use it. But even that uses energy.
Make sure you change your filters for the air condition and heating systems. This will keep your HVAC running more efficiently.
Install low flow shower heads and faucets.
Only flush when needed. Yeah this sounds a little gross but hey, if Tyra Banks can do it so can I. The average flush uses between 1.5- 5 gallons of water depending on the age of your toilet. If you don’t like Tyra’s way of saving water install a water saver flush kit.
Not only should you only run your dishwasher when it is full, but use the energy saver option and have the dishes air dry.
Use cold water when washing clothes and wash full loads. Many detergents are now specifically for cold water use. Approximately 85-90% of the energy used when washing your clothes is for heating the water.
If you need to purchase a new washing machine, don’t just look for the Energy Star but try to buy a front loading washer. Front loading washers use 40% less water and 50% less energy than top loading washers.
Clean your vent screen in the dryer each time you use it. Even non energy efficient dryers will use less energy with an empty vent.
Turn on the light for your oven to check on your dinner and save all that nice hot air for the oven. Your oven will work less and in hot summer months and so will your air conditioner.
Install a bathroom fan with an automatic humidity sensor. The fan only runs long enough to remove the excess moisture and then turns itself off.
Print on both sides of your page or save your sheets to use again. Often I print a coupon which takes about 4 inches of the paper, leaving me another four inches. Instead of throwing that paper away, keep a stack of it for the kids to color on or to print out more coupons.
Recycle your paper shredding. In this day of identity theft almost every home has a paper shredder in it. Keep a bag of your shredding and use it to “fill” gift bags with or as a packing material. You will be surprised. Not only does it make a colorful gift bag filler but it saves money on purchasing paper which – let’s be honest – is just going to get thrown away anyway. If you use it for packing material it is not as heavy as some other packing materials and it saves you money both in shipping and materials.
Use reusable containers. I even reuse the Gerber 2nd step plastic containers. They are non breakable, have their own lids and after washing them out they are the perfect size for packing snack in the diaper bag and they are stackable so they are easy to store.
Check with your local school’s art teacher and libraries that have arts days. Believe it or not many of the things we throw away she can use – like newspapers, baby food jars and rolls from paper towels and toilet paper.
Maybe you are a tree hugger, an environmentalist, or a true believer in global warming. Maybe you just like to save money. Whatever your reason may be for using any one or all of these tips doesn’t really matter. Just use them.