watching Live Earth and
doing a lot of research for my home
improvement blog, I wanted to post something up here on my site
about trying to be a little greener. Many of you have kids and you
worry about what they eat, what they learn at school, that they’re
not singing London Bridge with a plastic bag on their head.
But… the truth is, we should all be worried about whether
or not the kids will be able to survive in 30 or 40 years.
Needless to say, it is true that individually we don’t make much of a difference. Sure, if millions of us all do our part… we will make a dent. But we need government intervention to really solve our climate crisis. Not to get too political, I’ll say that the first thing you should do is vote for people who are more concerned about our environment than their corporate donors.
Because I know that change is hard, I’ll start with some really easy things you can do to help your planet.
However - - I do want to say this… One, I’m not expert. This is just to help give a kick in the pants. If you can, do some more research on the Internet. Two, I’m working on a lot of these things myself and am far from perfect so I don’t want it to seem like preaching. Again — some friendly advice, in blog form, and it is just a sampling. I know that some people can feel overwhelmed by all the information. All these “Green Ideas” don’t mean you need to live off the land, grow your own veggies, sell your car and ride your Schwinn.
Just do what you can:
- Turn off the lights in a room when you leave — if you’re going to be gone for more than 30 seconds. Put timers on lights if you sometimes forget to turn them on at night
- Bump up your A/C a few degree or push down your heater a few degrees. 69 degrees is nice an chilly in August, but you can also live at 73 degrees. And use ceiling fans whenever and wherever you can - they distribute air more efficiently.
- Don’t leave the water running while you brush your teeth.
- Recycle - here in L.A. they come pick up our recycling, but if you don’t have it - separate cans, bottles, plastic, and newspaper and take it to a recycling center once every two weeks or every month so it’s not such a chore. Have your kids help so they get used to the idea
- When you go grocery shopping, take along a canvas bag or permanent carrying bag instead of using their bags. Or, save your paper bags and take them back to the store with you to have them refilled. If all that is too much to ask, at least get paper bags over plastic — and don’t double-bag it.
- Speaking of shopping — try to buy local foods when possible. Food that has to travel a long distance is so not green. If you don’t have a lot of local stuff or you’re not sure, try to buy from a local Farmers Market if you can.
- Go with rechargeable batteries if you can. All those AA batteries have to go somewhere when you toss them out after they last 20 seconds in your kid’s remote control car…
- Keep your fridge and freezer closed as much as possible - use the water and ice dispenser if you have one, do quick open-and-closes, keep little ones from opening them up with one of those child safety locks.
- Don’t use your dryer, if you can help it. Dryers use a lot of energy and if you can air-dry your clothes, you’ll save on the electric bill and help the planet.
- Appliances and electronic equipment use power even when they’re in the stand-by mode. Put a lot of those things on a power strip and turn off the power strip every night when you go to bed.
- Check the seal on your refrigerator door - put a dollar bill in doorway, close the fridge door on it, and pull out the bill. Try it at several points along the door. If the bill pulls out easily, or even slightly easy, you can have someone re-seal the refrigerator.
- Your water heater is cold! Give it a blanket! Wrapping a water heater with special blanket insulation can improve the efficiency and save money. Also, wrap foam insulation around all your water pipes. It prevents heat loss during transfer.
- Close your curtains - heat and cool air loss from older windows can be substantial. Also, the sun beating in the windows will warm the house and cause the a/c to come on and work harder.
Those are only a few of the great ways you can start to do your thing to prevent global warming. Now, for a bit more effort and/or cash, here are some other ideas… and they great thing about most of this stuff? It not only helps the planet — it saves you money!
FOR THE HOME:
- First, take out all the regular light bulbs in your house. Go to a hardware store and buy Compact Fluorescent (CF) bulbs. They’ll have a CF or Eco-something, or Energy-something on the label. Every bulb in my house is a CF bulb. My electric bill literally fell off the chart. It was kinda funny. Each bulb will save you about $50 each in electricity savings through the life the bulb. They last longer and use 70% less energy. If you don’t believe me - - I will buy any person who reads this all the bulbs for their house. But — here’s the catch — you’ve got to send me the difference in your electric bill from the same period last year. For three months. (I’ll be able to put L.A. Toddler through college if I get enough to fall for it
- Replace your old appliances. This is an expensive proposition, to be sure. But your fridge uses the most power in the house (the dryer is usually second) and older models are less efficient. Look for an Energy Star model, if you’re in the market. A lot of those appliances, like the dishwashers, can also use less water (also saving you money.) If just 1 in 10 homes replaced their appliances with Energy Star ones, it would have the same effect as planting 1.7 million acres of trees.
- Change the home filter on your house every three months. When it gets clogged, your a/c has to work harder and… use more energy. Ignoring it could lead to premature system failure and cost an arm and a leg.
- A programmable thermostat is so much better than the manual dial ones. You can set it to be off while you’re away, and crank up just before you come home. It can help out during vacations or long weekends, too. You can also have temperature zones set up in your house so that you can cool/heat one area of the house that you’re in and not parts of the house where you are not. And… you can also use it to drive out annoying mother-in-laws by convincing them they’re having hot flashes.
- Replacement windows can cost quite a lot. But, you could be losing a lot of heat and cool air through your windows. Again, you’ll save on the electric bill if you replace your single-pane windows with new ones that have UV protections and tight seals. Improves the value of your house, too.
- You wanna get nuts? Contact a solar energy company. See about installing a solar water heater. And if you want to go for broke, find out about solar panels for your roof. The cost is still ridiculous but they are super-low interest loans available and many states offer incentives and rebates and help with the loans. And… what you’re paying on the loan would have gone toward paying the electric bill. Eventually, you’ll be making more power than you use and you’ll be sending some of it back up the line to your power company. You’ll be off the grid!
FOR YOUR CAR:
- First, get your car a tuneup, if it hasn’t had one in several years. The better the car runs, the better mileage you’ll get and you’ll use less gas.
- Keep those tires inflated. Make sure you’ve got proper pressure for your tire - the car won’t have to work as hard to roll those wheels on your honkin’ SUV.
- Look into a K&N Filter for your car/truck/Ford Extortion. They give you more power and better mileage.
- Use the lowest octane fuel you can on your vehicle. Regular is fine for just about every new car. The only time you need it is when your car makes a “knocking” sound. Any other time, you’re throwing money away.
- Drive the speed limit. Don’t take off like a like you’re sporting a drag car and you’ll save gas, Speed Racer.
- Do not, do not, do not over-fill your tank. Pumping every last drop in is stupid. The excess evaporates or spills out when you drive off. And, if it’s a hot day, and you overfill and then go park somewhere… where will it all go when the fuel expands in your tank?
- Take all that shit out of your trunk. Lighten the load. Every 250 lbs. takes up an extra mile per gallon.
- Buy a smaller, more fuel efficient, or even a hybrid car the next time you’re in the market.
Well, that’s all for now. There’s so much more out there. But, it’s a start. I’m sure I’ve left off thousands of things that can be done - put a favorite in comments if you can! - but these were the ones I could think of…. I’ll probably come up with dozens more as soon as I hit “Submit”. Do what you can, when you can…
Every little bit helps.