Green for Free
Think going green is difficult or expensive? Not so! These ideas are free. That’s right, absolutely free - and you can start using them immediately. See more ideas on Sustainability Made Simple and Spend a Little, Save a Lot to add a little more green to your everyday life.
Turn it truly “off”
When does “off” not mean “off”? When you’re talking about TVs, DVD players, cordless phones, battery chargers and dozens of other home electronics. If a product has a digital clock, electronic display, “instant-on” feature, remote control, or external power adaptor, it still draws standby power even when the device itself is turned off. This “leaking” energy, also known as “phantom load,” accounts for about 25 percent of the total energy used by home electronics. Fortunately, there’s an easy solution: unplug these devices from the wall outlet when you’re not using them. If they’re plugged into switched outlets, just turn off the switch or plug them into power strips that you can easily switch on or off as needed. This way, no current flows to the electronic devices, so they don’t consume any electricity.
Dress for the occasion
In the winter, put on a cozy sweater and set your thermostat a notch lower. About 68°F is comfortable for most people, but you might feel fine with the temperature even lower. In the summer, turn on the air-conditioning only when you really need it, and set it to 78°F or higher. Raising the thermostat by 1 degree in the summer can reduce your air conditioning costs by 3 percent to 5 percent.
Be a smart cookie
When cooking smaller meals, save energy by using a microwave or toaster oven rather than heating up the full-size oven. On the stovetop, keep a lid on pots and try not to boil larger quantities of water than you need. Also, be mindful about how your food choices affect the environment. Whenever possible, eat local and opt for minimally processed natural, organic and sustainable foods.
Let the sun shine in (or keep it out)
Window coverings are more than just window dressing—they can actually help manage your heating and cooling bills. On hot summer days, try closing window coverings on the sunny side of your home to keep it cooler. If winters are cold where you live, thick insulating drapes or shades will help keep warmth in at night. On sunny winter days, open the window coverings so the sun’s rays can help heat your home.
If you’ve got an extra fridge or freezer idling away in your garage or basement, it could be costing you $200 or more every year to keep it humming, depending on the model’s age and size. Spare your wallet and the planet by unplugging it. Many local utility companies will recycle your old refrigerator for free, and some will even send you a check after they take away the old watt-guzzler.
Hang up and dry
Take advantage of the sun’s free energy and dry your clothes on a line. If it’s raining or you don’t have space outside, hang clothes indoors on lines or racks. If you do use a dryer, clean out the lint trap before every load—a lint-laden trap makes the dryer work harder.