Making your home more energy efficient can both help the planet as well as lighten the burden on your monthly gas, electric, and water bills. The website www.climatecrisis.net -a site originally dedicated purely to the film An Inconvenient Truth but since become a guide to green living- is a truly fantastic resource for accomplishing the goal of energy efficiency.
The site lays out some basic suggestions on how you can impact the environment through your daily life on an incremental basis. Here are some highlights, both from the site and my own suggestions/experiences:
Purchase fluorescent light bulbs.
This is possibly the most basic yet effective method of reducing the amount of energy and natural resources you draw on in your home. Fluorescent bulbs use less energy, last longer, and, lets be serious, with their spiral shape, just look cooler. It is estimated that this will reduce your carbon emissions by 150 pounds per year/per light bulb.
Low flow shower heads.
This, in effect, does two things to produce a positive environmental impact. First, the very obvious effect of using less water for each shower you take. Worldwide water shortages, particularly in the American Southwest, make it necessary that water conservation methods be foremost on our mind. Secondly, if you are like me and enjoy hot showers, the low flow head will decrease the total amount of hot water you use, lessening the need for energy to warm the water. It is estimated that this will reduce your carbon emissions by 350 pounds per year.
Use cold water instead of hot.
Whether it is washing your clothes or washing your hands, cold water saves an expediential amount of energy when compared to warm or hot water.
Monitor your thermostat.
Cooling your home in the summer and heating it in the winter uses a considerable amount of energy. By lowering your thermostat in the winter and only turning on your AC on the hottest of days in the summer, you will be limiting your carbon usage by a significant amount. Insolating your house properly is also a big factor, since it limits the amount of air actually needed to cool and heat your home. Many companies have begun to pop up in major cities offering a full inspection of your home to discover where poorly insulated spots may be. I would not dissuade anyone from utilizing these services, since they can be beneficial, but with a can of compressed and a watchful eye you should be able to find the problematic spots in your house and insulate them on your own.
Purchase energy efficient products.
Virtually every electric appliance on the market now has an energy efficient counterpart. The best part is, most of them include the “Energy Star” symbol which is only added to products that undergo an independent review process, thus weeding out the frauds.
Unplug you appliances.
Most people don’t realize that every second an appliance is plugged in, whether it is in use or not, it is utilizing energy. Granted, the amount of energy actually used at any given point in time is minuscule, however, as is the case with almost anything, in the long run it adds up. You should unplug things not in use and unplug everything when you go on extended trips.