Sometimes you get into a "green couch potato" mode and need a kick in the pants to get up and do something. As such, I've compiled a list of free and easy things you can do to help reduce your personal environmental footprint (either at the office or at home). You'll notice that none of these tips are earthshattering...just some commonsense things to do.
Hopefully you do all of these already and I'm wasting your time! If not, pick one (or more) and see if you can make a simple lifestyle change at the office - and at home - for the environment.
- Close or adjust window blinds and curtains. In the summer, close the blinds during the day to reflect the sun’s heat outward. In the winter, keep the shades closed to help trap warmth inside the house.
- Turn off unnecessary lights. This is a no-brainer: if you’re not using a space, turn off the light. Many people have been told that turning a light on and off uses more energy than leaving it on. This is only true if you’re turning it off for only a few seconds, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
- Unplug equipment that drains energy. Did you know that many items will draw energy even though you’re not using them? This is sometimes referred to as “vampire” power. Some examples are cell phone chargers and other power adapters. Also any items that have “instant on” functions, or things that have a clock. If you’re not using them, unplug them! Or put them on a power strip and turn the power strip off.
- Turn down the temperature on your hot water heater. For each 10 degree reduction in water temperature, you can save between 3 and 5 percent in energy costs. Some manufacturers set water heater thermostats at 140ºF, but most households usually only require them set at 120ºF. Reducing your water temperature to 120ºF also slows mineral buildup and corrosion in your water heater and pipes. This helps your water heater last longer and operate at its maximum efficiency.
- Wash your clothes in cold rather than hot water. Hot water does not clean clothes better, and actually is tougher on clothes in terms of wear and tear and fading. Using cold or warm water will get your clothes just as clean and use less energy. Always use cold water for the rinse cycle.
- Clean your lint trap in the clothes dryer after every load. Cleaning out the lint trap helps maximize circulation of warmed air in your clothes dryer, making your clothes dry faster and more efficiently.
- Do not preheat the oven. For most cooking and baking options (particularly for meat and vegetables), preheating the oven is not a big help. For very sensitive tasks, like baking, preheating the oven is still necessary. In other cooking-news, ways to reduce energy use include not opening the oven door during cooking, and turning the oven off a few minutes before the food is done (it will hold the heat as long as you don’t open the door).
- Set your thermostat a few degrees cooler/warmer. In the winter, consider keeping your house a few degrees cooler and wearing a sweater and some slippers. In the summer, do the opposite and keep the house a few degrees warmer.
- Open the windows instead of using the AC. Of course, it’s always more energy efficient to use natural ventilation rather than conditioned air!
- Heat only the rooms you use. In the winter, consider closing off rooms that are rarely used (like guest rooms). By closing the vents in that room and keeping the room closed, your system will use less energy to heat the space that you do use.
Coming soon - free & easy tips for water conservation.
Image Source: Energy Efficient Choices