Earth Day is usually accompanied by marches, rallies and calls to action that make it sound like the planet will explode if we don’t all go live in a hut somewhere in the Yucatan. But it really doesn’t have to be like that.
There are some simple ways you can save money, energy, and resources and be just a little greener — in your wallet and for the environment. Here is our Top Ten list!
1. When an appliance breaks, buy a new ENERGY STAR® rated one. Sure, it costs a little more, but study after study shows that the premium you pay up front gets paid back, and then some, over the life of the appliance through reduced utility bills.
2. Find the energy leaks in your home. Old windows, poor insulation, cracked or missing weather stripping, leaky ductwork – they all cost you money. But it doesn’t have to cost much to fix. Sure, blowing insulation into the walls can be expensive, but it pays off fairly quickly. Plus, replacing weather stripping, caulking, using plastic wrap on windows during the winter, and taping up loose joints on exposed ductwork are all dirt cheap and can save you big when your bills come.
3. Take public transit. We know this isn’t for everyone. Some people lack access to a solid public transit system. Others travel too far or have responsibilities that make it impossible to take the bus or train. But even if you just take public transit or car-pool a couple times a week, the savings can add up big in reduced gas purchases and vehicle maintenance. Not to mention the reduced stress of not having to worry about traffic.
4. Put your home entertainment center on a power strip. Nothing in the home consumes more power than our entertainment devices. What most people don’t realize is how much power they draw when they’re not actually on. Most electronics have a standby mode where they draw reduced power. In the case of an Xbox 360 and large plasma TV, that can result in up to $200 per year on your electricity bill! Throw them on a power strip and turn the power off there to keep them from sucking down all your juice. Just remember, though – if you put your DVR on the power strip, it won’t record House reruns while you’re gone.
5. Soften your water. Believe it or not, hard water doesn’t just taste bad. It costs you money, too. Hard water leaves mineral deposits in your hot water tank and reduces the efficiency of all your water-using major appliances. Plus, it’s hard on your clothes, meaning you’ll have to buy new ones faster – almost 30 percent faster in some cases.
6. Use compact fluorescent (CFL) or LED bulbs. Sure, you’ve heard this one about a billion times. But maybe you don’t like the light they give or you think they’re still too expensive. Well, there have been huge improvements in the technology of CFL and LED bulbs – now they’re closer than ever to the nice warm glow we get from old-school, Edison-inspired bulbs. And not only are they cheaper than ever before and save you up to 80 percent of your electricity used for lighting, they last longer, so you don’t have to buy as many.
7. Small changes in the way you eat can have big results. No, you don’t have to become a card-carrying vegan and eat like a rabbit. You can net a big difference with just a few small shifts in the way you eat and shop. Look for in-season vegetables that were grown near you. That’ll save you money, plus reduce the resources that went into making it. Plus, that produce tends to taste better, since it wasn’t grown to survive a 3,000-mile journey. That means the kids might actually eat it. Plus, supporting local growers means more jobs!
8. Buy a fan. The summer heat is on its way and that means the air conditioning is going to get cranked. But we don’t need to turn it on quite as early as we do. Unless it’s truly sweltering, a ceiling or table fan can make us feel much cooler. Air conditioning is a big energy hog, while a fan costs just a few pennies a day. Plus, with a fan, you can set the A/C a few degrees higher without sacrificing any comfort – saving that much more money.
9. Go for the bells & whistles. Not all the latest features on appliances are aimed at making things cleaner, faster or just plain cooler. There are features besides the ENERGY STAR rating that can save energy and money as well. For example, moisture sensors in clothes dryers ensure the appliance isn’t running longer than it needs to, reducing wear and tear on your clothes while saving you money in the process.
10. Pay attention to your filters! By far the most simple, but often the most ignored, way to save money, especially during the summer and winter, is changing your furnace filter. A dirty filter can raise energy costs by up to 30 percent! Plus, a dirty filter will reduce the cooling and heating capacity of your HVAC system and wear it out that much faster. Other filters in the household matter too. The lint filter in the dryer should be cleaned with every load of clothes. If you use a portable or window A/C unit, clean or replace that filter regularly.
We also invite you to check out our Energy Star rated appliances on Kenmore.com.
How are you celebrating Earth Day?