Living An Environmentally Friendly Lifestyle

Saturday, May 11, 2013

20 Easy Ways to Go Green for Free

energy tree
Going Green.  It's a term you may hear alot, but think about very little.  Most people think living environmentally friendly (referred to as Green living) is expensive, and requires alot of effort.  This couldn't be farther from the truth. 

There are many everyday things you can do for free that help the environment with very little effort on your behalf.  Here is a list of just 20 examples:

1.  Don't let your computer and monitor enter sleep mode.

If your computer has been sitting idle so long it went into sleep mode, it's already wasted too much energy.  In sleep mode, the memory still uses full power consumption and the rest of your computer and monitor still use small amounts of electricity to keep it ready to power back up in a hurry. Powering it down completely when not in use saves on electricity and doesn't add much extra time to start back up when you need to use it.

2.  Unplug your electronics when they aren't in use.

Televisions, cable boxes and stereos all use electricity even when they're turned off.  When you hit the power button on them, the electronics go into a sleep mode but don't shut down completely.  They have to stay on a little bit to detect when you give them a command from the remote control.  Unplugging them when not in use saves a tremendous amount of electricity over time.

3.  Recycle your dead batteries and  electronics.

Batteries and electronics are some of the worse environmental hazards you can throw away.  They contain pollutants like mercury and lithium that will seep out over time and soak into the ground.  There are many places that will recycle your batteries and junk electronics for free

4.  Rent instead of buying.

OK, this one isn't free, but if you were going to spend $20 on a movie, and rented it for $5 bucks instead, it's technically more than free.  Renting movies or checking out books from the library saves you money, and cuts down on wasted production. I personally don't feel the need to own something I'm only going to use once or twice, when I have the option to rent it.  Sure it's nice to have a few books around if the power goes out, or a small selection of movies if the cable goes out, but I don't need entire collections to satisfy my needs.   If it's something you know you're going to want to watch or read again, go ahead and buy yourself a copy.  But it's not necessary for every book or movie you like.

5.  Mow your lawn less often.

Add an extra day or two between mowing to lower gas and water consumption.  Lawn mowers are some of the worse gas-hogs around today.  Fuel efficiency just isn't a factor when manufacturing lawn mower engines.  Also, most species of grass grow better when they're kept at least 2 1/2 inches tall. It creates more surface area to absorb sunlight, which creates thicker turf and deeper roots.  This also means you won't need to water as often.

6.  Only buy Energy Star appliances.

Energy star appliances are built to strict efficiency standards.  Meaning it will probably use less electricity to use compared to the same appliance that doesn't have the Energy Star approval.  OK, so this one isn't technically free, but it's a no-brainer when it comes to eco-friendly consumerism.  And since buying appliances with the energy star approval doesn't cost extra, it made the list.

7.  Change your incandescent light bulbs.

Switch your light bulbs from incandescent to CFL or LED light bulbs.  HEY!  THESE AREN'T FREE!! - well....they kind of are.  Most electric companies will offer a rebate for at least half (if not all) the cost of the light bulb if you switch from incandescents.  Please read How much could you save switching to CFL or LED for more information.

8.  Wash full loads of  laundry and dishes.

Washing small loads of laundry and dishes consumes just about as much energy as a full load.  Waiting until you have a full load to wash cuts down on alot of wasted energy.  In summer months, waiting until evening will save money by avoiding the peak rate on electricity.

9.  Wash your laundry in cold water.

Up to 85% of the energy used in washing your clothes is from heating the water.  Using cold water will get most of your clothes just as clean while cutting down on energy consumption. 

10.  In warmer months, dry your clothes on a clothes line

One of the biggest energy hogs in your house today is your clothes dryer.  Hanging your laundry on a clothes line saves a great deal of electricity.  Especially your jeans and other denim-wear since they take the most time to dry.

11.  Turn down Hot water heater.

Water heaters are the biggest waste of energy in you home.  If you think about it, we all have our hot water heaters on hotter than we need.  How many times have you taken a shower or washed your hands and not had to use cold water to cool down the water coming out?

12.  Wrap your water heater in a blanket.

Everyone has an extra blanket laying around somewhere so this still qualifies as free.  The extra layer of insulation will drastically lower the amount of gas or electricity used to keep the hot water hot.  I'm not a big fan of traditional water heaters anyway.  They use energy to maintain the water temperature when not in use.  It's kind of like keeping a car running 24 hours a day so that way it's warm when you go to use it.  On-demand water heaters are your best option, but for now, the blanket will do.

13.  Clean the coils on your refrigerator and air conditioner.

Those coils are radiators used to dissipate heat from the motor to more-or-less stop it from overheating.  There is a little more to it than that, but I'm not going to spend time educating you about refrigerants.  Cleaning the coils every month or so allows your refrigerating system to run at maximum efficiency. 

14.  Keep your fridge and freezer ass full as possible.

When you open the door, you let cold air out, and warm air in.  A full refrigerator or freezer will use less energy cool the inside back down to the desired temperature because all the items in it remain at that desired temperature for long periods of time. 

15.  Turn the thermostat up or down 2 degrees.

Those 2 degrees aren't much in the way of comfort, but are a big reduction in energy use.  In the cold months, you can put on more clothes or cover up with a blanket, and in warmer months, you can wear shorts and tank tops.  One tip I have is wearing socks.  Your feet regulate alot of your body temperature.  If your cold, wearing socks will help warm your body temperature.  If your hot, going barefoot around the house will help you stay cool. 

16.  Clean your house.

Keeping your house uncluttered creates better air circulation allowing your heater and air conditioner run more efficiently.

17.  Close drapes and blinds during hottest part of the day.

Keeping your drapes or blinds closed on your south facing windows during the hottest part of the day stops the sun from shining in and warming up the place.  You're air conditioner and electric bill will be glad you did. 

18.  If its something you buy frequently, buy it in bulk.

When it comes to things you use frequently like coffee grounds, butter, and laundry detergent, it's better to buy them in bulk.  It saves you money, and uses less packaging waste. 

19.  Potty train your child as early as possible.

Sure, there's an age limit on these sort of things, but the earlier, the better.  If you're like most Americans, you use disposable diapers instead of cloth diapers.  Sure, I could have said "switch from disposable to cloth" as a way of going green, but I know most people just aren't willing to do this.  So instead, I'm choosing my battles and saying potty train them as soon as possible.  For each day your child isn't potty trained, 3-6 more non-biodegradable diapers are getting thrown in the garbage.

20.  Avoid bottled water

Unfortunately for our society, it is more socially acceptable to be toting around a bottle of Evian or Smart Water than it is to be carrying around a reusable insulated mug.  That's why I say "avoid" bottled water instead of don't buy bottled water.  People want to look hip in public and that's just the way it is.  But when your sitting on the couch with a bottle of water by your side, you're just being foolish.  Chances are, there is perfectly drinkable water coming right out of your tap.  All you have to do is fill up a pitcher of it and stick it in your refrigerator.  For the exact same amount of water you would have in your bottle, you've now saved 85% in cost, and 100% in waste.  If you're not a fan of your tap water, you can always buy a filter for a fraction of the price you're paying for the bottled water.

So there you have it.  20 of the easiest ways to go green for free. They don't take much effort or money on your behalf.  It's actually not as hard or expensive to go green as many people think.  In many ways it's actually cheaper to be green since one of the biggest factors is using energy more efficiently.

I'd like to hear your thoughts and any other easy ways you've found to go green for free.


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