13 Easy Free & Almost Free Ways to Slash Your Energy Use
This is a guest post from Shel Horowitz, author of Painless Green: 111 Tips to Help the Environment, Lower Your Carbon Footprint, Cut Your Budget, and Improve Your Quality of Life—With No Negative Impact on Your Lifestyle. Read more tips at his blog http://goingbeyondsustainability.com
Readers of this blog already know WHY we should save energy. You understand the impact on carbon in the atmosphere, the effect on our wallets of continually buying fossil fuels with finite supplies, and the threats to peace and democracy in relying too heavily on fossil and nuclear.
But maybe you’ve been stuck on the HOW. Saving energy can feel complicated and expensive—and even scary.
But it doesn’t have to be! Ordinary people with no technical skills can easily save quite a bit of energy. And most of the best ways cost little or nothing, are easy to install, and allow you to maintain the lifestyle you enjoy. No freezing in a dark cabin around here!
Enjoy these tips from my $9.95 ebook, Painless Green: 111 Tips to Help the Environment, Lower Your Carbon Footprint, Cut Your Budget, and Improve Your Quality of Life—With No Negative Impact on Your Lifestyle.
We’ll begin by slashing your heating energy (and bills):
- Get an energy audit from your local electric company. Power companies typically do energy audits for free or for a $10 or $20 fee.
- Put your hand over an electrical outlet on an outside wall on a cold night and you’ll feel the rush of frigid air! Insulate your electrical outlets, switches, and phone jacks on outside walls. If your energy auditor didn’t give them to you, most hardware stores sell inexpensive foam outlet and phone jack insulation pads; just unscrew the face plate, slip the foam pad on, and put the face plate back.
- Slip child-safety outlet protectors into any exterior-wall outlets you’re not using. They block a lot of heat loss.
- Caulk your windows. A $3 to $5 box of Mortite or similar rope caulk could last 2-3 years—even longer if, come spring when you remove the caulk, you store it in an airtight plastic bag for reuse. Any place you feel a draft, fill the crack with rope caulk.
- If you go out for more than an hour or two, turn down the heat or turn off the air conditioning. Well-insulated houses will come back to temperature very quickly when you return.
- If everyone regularly leaves the house for most of the day, consider a programmable thermostat. You can set, for example, winter temperatures for 60°F at night, 65 in the mornings before you go to work, 60 when the house will be empty, and 65 starting half an hour before you come home.
Now a few from the cooking section. Some are very easy, but not all that obvious.
- If you’re using your oven, throw in other stuff that you can eat later. So while your casserole is cooking, you can also cook potatoes or winter squash with no additional energy cost.
- Clean the coils behind your refrigerator. Vacuum them every four to six months. (You may have to unscrew a panel to get to them.). Your refrigerator will run cooler and quieter, last longer, and use less electricity.
- Eat less meat. Did you know it takes seven times as much land to raise a pound of beef as it does to raise a pound of grain? And that global warming is sped up by the abominable practice of knocking down tropical rain forests to create artificial grazing lands for beef? Beef and pork, especially as commercially produced, have a very high carbon footprint; reducing our intake could dramatically reduce not only world hunger but also global warming and threats to biodiversity (especially in the rain forest). Consider Asian-style meals based around rice or other grains and using meat more as a flavoring than a main ingredient. Or eliminate it from one meal a day. Or give it up entirely. As a vegetarian since 1973, I never run out of fascinating foods to prepare, try, and eat.
My last few tips are about saving water
Squandering water (especially heated water) is one of our biggest energy thieves. So when we save water, we save heating fuel, too.
- Switch from bottled water to filtered tap water, if you live in a place where the tap water is good enough to drink (which it is in many parts of the world). Bottled water is an environmental disaster! It consumes petroleum, generates garbage, and wastes or contaminates several times as much water as goes in the bottle—and bottling plants can draw down the local water supply, causing problems for agriculture and for local residents. Plus, the carbon footprint of transporting the water around the world is significant.
- For better flavor and health, use a simple, inexpensive home water filtering system, which will lower your costs and produce far less waste.
- Learn the secrets of loading your dishwasher (in mine, I can fit most of the prep and all the serving, cooking, and eating dishes for a dinner that serves eight people). Load it as full as you can without interfering with the water’s ability to get to the tough places.
- A two- or three- minute shower will use a lot less water than a bath —especially if you turn the water off while you shampoo. A 20-minute shower will not—so aim for short showers. If you’re taking a luxurious hot bath, see if anyone else wants the water before you drain the tub. Even if the next person freshens it with a couple of gallons of new hot water, it’s a lot less than refilling from scratch.
So there you have 13 of the 111 great tips I’ve put together for you. The ebook has much more, including whole sections we didn’t cover here: yard and garden, transportation, and shopping. And since I’m not even charging the $9.95, please go get your copy right now: http://painlessgreenbook.com/earthday (code: energyauthority)
Shel Horowitz shows businesses how to create and market profitable products and services that turn hunger and poverty into sufficiency, war into peace, and catastrophic climate change into planetary balance. His latest award-winning book is Guerrilla Marketing to Heal the World. Contact Shel via http://goingbeyondsustainability.com