10 Simple Ways to Save the Earth

Environmental issues can be overwhelming and seem beyond our grasp. However, there are several small things each of us can do to alleviate our impact on the environment. Here’s a list of simple ideas to live a little more earth friendly.

#1 Be a star: You don’t have to be a math whiz to figure out energy savings, Energy Star has done this for you. ENERGY STAR is a cooperative program between the US Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of Energy that promotes energy efficient products for the home and office. An average home can be responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than the average car. With this in mind, ENERGY STAR approved products are an easy way to reduce this impact. The simplest action is to change bulbs. ENERGY STAR light bulbs “require 2/3 less energy than standard lighting, generate 70% less heat and last up to 10 times longer” according to the organization. Switching to Energy Star bulbs saves both energy and money. According to ENERGY STAR, if every American home changed 5 high use light fixtures or bulbs to ENERGY STAR products it would prevent more than one trillion pounds of greenhouse gas from entering the earth’s atmosphere. The change would be equivalent to taking more than a million cars off the road for an entire year.

#2 Drive with Earth in Mind: One car emits as much carbon dioxide as the average home. What can you do? Think efficient when it comes to driving. Buying a fuel efficient car is the best choice you can make if you are driving with Earth in mind. Hybrids are becoming more common and as they do they will also become more affordable. If these are out of reach right now there are other ways to make your driving more earth friendly. For one, drive less. If you can walk, bike or take a train to work even once or twice per week it will decrease carbon dioxide emissions tremendously and save you money on annual gas, repairs and maintenance costs. Keeping your car tuned up, driving slower and avoiding idling also improves fuel efficiency.

#3 Keep it neutral at home: Half of household energy costs go towards heating and cooling and a large percent of this is getting temperatures to hot or cold. Keeping temperature settings more moderate greatly increases household fuel efficiency. Programmable thermostats are a great way to regulate temperatures throughout the day reducing the fuel draining charging periods to heat or cool. Replacing outdated HVAC systems increases efficiency by a third and tuning up your existing system can reduce heating costs by 10% annually. Rather than AC, try natural ventilation with the help of ceiling fans and watch your cooling costs go down by half.

#4 Put the Refrigerator on a diet: The household refrigerator is the biggest residential energy consumer. If you can replace an old model you can improve energy efficiency by up to 50%. Or, try lowering the thermostat 1 degree and keeping the condenser coil clean to improve efficiency by a third. Also keeping it cool on the outside will lower energy use, keep it in the shade and be sure the doors stayed closed to keep the cool inside.

#5 Hot enough: Hot water heaters, clothes washers and dishwashers can use energy inefficiently if the temperatures are too high. Turning the hot water heater down a couple degrees will boost energy savings. Some models are equipped with “energy saving” settings. Insulating the hot water heater and pipes helps maintain temperatures. Just like with HVAC, you can also equip you hot water heater with a timer so it isn’t constantly running. Try washing clothes in warm water rather than hot, they’ll be just as clean, last longer and you’ll save tremendously on energy.

#6 Green with Goals: Surrounding your home with trees and other plants soaks up carbon dioxide but they can do more than just that. If planted strategically, trees and shrubs can add insulation from wind and help keep things cool with shade. Using native plants cuts down the need for chemicals and decreases the amount of water needed to keep things growing. Also mulching gardens and flower beds helps keep moisture in and plants healthy.

#7 Green Investments: Simple economics: the more the demand, the more the supply. If consumers invest in green energy, it will become more affordable and more available. Many utility companies offer green credits, the option to buy power from renewable sources. “Green tags” are offered through many independent companies as a way to track and certify green power purchases and improve the renewable energy grid. You can also invest in these through socially responsible funds that perform as well as traditional, unfiltered funds.

#8 Go Organic: It might be a little more costly now but as demand increases the costs will go down. The truth is right now it costs more to buy less, chemicals that is. Not only are chemical pesticides a health hazard at home, they kill off important organisms in the field that help contain carbon dioxide in the soil instead of the air. Using chemicals for food production creates an ever increasing reliance on them. Other options besides organic include eating locally grown food and in season produce. Both decrease transportation costs and pollution. You might even consider growing your own vegetables or starting a community garden. It’s not as hard as you think.

#9 Insist it’s recycled: Buying recycled goods is a tremendous way to conserve energy. It takes much less energy to manufacture a recycled product than to make a brand new one. Aluminum, tin, glass and cardboard are usually made from some recycled content even if its not advertised on the product. Why? Because its cheaper to produce and usually cheaper to the consumer. It’s also important to remember that once you buy a product it becomes your responsibility so be sure to check if it can be recycled when you are down with it.

#10 Use Less: Everything takes energy to produce so the less you use the less energy you demand. If you need a lot then buy in bulk. Bulk items use less packaging and requires less energy for transport by you. Also, buy for the long haul. Quality products will last longer, require less repair and will save you money over time. Try to use up what you have before buying more products. Rather than always buying new try being creative for work and play. For instance, at Halloween try creating kids costumes from things you already have rather than buying new for one time use. Another idea is that you may already have what you need and just don’t know it. Staying organized can save you money by helping you avoid buying in duplicate or having things hanging around beyond their shelf life like batteries and OTC medications. Less stuff equals more time and more money in your pocket and less strain on the environment.

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