By Peter Walsh for Home Rehab Online
Want to save money and make the planet more green in the process? Cutting energy and water use in your home is the best way to accomplish both. These simple green living tips could end up saving you hundreds of dollars a year on your utility bills — and they only require a few simple changes to your daily life.
Green Living Tip No. 1: Make Over Your Bulbs
Start by replacing your old incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs. It takes less than a minute to change a bulb and can save you up to $50 a year. When you add up all the bulbs in your home, that’s a lot of money in your pocket! The newest CFLs produce the same type of light as incandescent bulbs, but last ten times longer and use about a quarter of the energy that standard bulbs use, according to Consolidated Edison, the gas and electric power company that helps light up New York City. For added savings, get into the habit of turning off lights in any rooms you are not using. And during the day, open window shades and curtains to light your home the natural way.
Green Living Tip No 2: Get to Know Your Thermostat
When cooling your home in summer, make sure you’re only cooling the rooms you’re using by blocking air vents with cardboard or closing vents in unused rooms. Keep the thermostat on your air conditioner at 78 degrees; any lower and your energy usage rises and your electric bill could cost up to 40 percent more. Before you leave for the day, turn off your air conditioner and close shades and drapes on east-, south- and west-facing windows to block out the sun.
In cool weather, turn down your thermostat and wear a sweater indoors. Lower your heat to 68 degrees during the day and 60 degrees at night or whenever you’re away from home. During the day, warm your home by letting in sunlight — especially from south-, east- and west-facing windows. Pull down shades and close drapes at night to keep heated air in, and move furniture away from heating vents to allow heated air to circulate.
Green Living Tip No. 3: Unplug Your Computer
When you’re not using your computer, unplug it or shut it off. Most computers have a power-down or sleep-mode feature that lowers the energy usage by about 70 percent less than a computer that is sitting idle but still drawing electricity, according to the U.S. government’s Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy site. It doesn’t use more energy to power up your computer once it’s shut down, and it only takes a few minutes. And remember: If you’re using a screen saver on your monitor, your computer is still drawing power.
Green Living Tip No. 4: Power Down Unused Items
While you’re in unplugging mode, also shut down TVs and cable boxes, as well as any chargers for smartphones, gaming devices, hand-held vacuums, battery chargers, flashlights and power tools that you don’t plan to use in the near future. These items continue to suck power in order to keep their batteries charged, which costs you money and uses unnecessary energy. “Shut things off,” says Thomas Reddoch, senior technical executive for the Electric Power Research Institute, an independent, nonprofit science and technology research organization. “Make your home a smarter place to live.”
Green Living Tip No. 5: Shorten Your Showers
Finally, make it a point to take shorter showers. You could save more than 3,500 gallons of water per year by taking a five-minute shower instead of lingering under the spray. Read more water-saving tips to help you save even more while helping save the planet.
Image Credit: Credit: Flickr, Samuel M. Livingston
Peter Walsh is a NYC-based writer specializing in home and garden-related topics.
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