Earth Day is April 22; it’s a great day to make small changes that help keep our planet green and clean. What can you do to help? The possibilities include things as small as turning off the water when you brush your teeth and as large as buying energy-efficient appliances. The greatest benefits of going green? Using energy-efficient products can help save about 30% on energy costs ($400 per year for the average family), while also helping the environment.
- Turn off the lights when you leave the room, even if it’s for a few minutes. Even better, replace your incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs), which use about 75% less energy than an incandescent bulb. If every American home replaced just one conventional light bulb with a compact fluorescent light bulb, it would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes a year. Then, of course, remember to turn off your new CFLs when you leave the room.
- Replace aging, inefficient water heaters, air conditioners, and heating systems. They’re the biggest source of energy use in your home. New high-efficiency systems pay for themselves quickly in energy savings.
- Ensure your home is insulated to current guidelines. Look for insulation that is made from recycled materials.
- Turn off the water when you brush your teeth. If you brush your teeth for 2 minutes, twice a day, you’re wasting almost 3,000 gallons of water a year. Install aerators on all faucets to use less water when they’re running.
- Next time you’re in the market for a new washing machine, buy a high-efficiency model. A conventional washer uses up to 50 gallons per cycle; HE machines use less than half that—and half the energy as well.
- Repair leaky faucets and toilets to save about 200 gallons of water a day.
- Change your air filter monthly. It not only keeps your air cleaner, it helps your air handler run more efficiently.
- Open your windows whenever possible. Fresh air and energy savings really add up!
- Reduce by buying less: less disposable merchandise, less packaging, less chemicals.
- Reuse: Buy cloth napkins and towels; if it’s fixable, fix it; buy gently used items instead of new if possible; and donate unwanted items to charity instead of throwing them away.
- Recycle: Paper, plastic, metal, electronics, motor oil. Compost when possible. Buy recycled materials whenever you can.
- Perform a home energy audit to find where your home is wasting energy. You can do one yourself using checklists found on the internet, or for a more thorough audit, most utility companies and heating and cooling companies perform them.
These are just the tips for your home! There are so many little things that each person can do to keep the Earth green. Choose those you think you can do, and start them today. Then, make other small changes during the course of the next year; chances are on the next Earth Day, you’ll notice a difference in your energy bill and your wallet.