EDITOR’S NOTE: EACH TUESDAY MY GREEN SIDE BRINGS SIMPLE TIPS FOR GREEN LIVING TO THE CHRISTOPHER GABRIEL PROGRAM. WE ALSO HIGHLIGHT A FAVORITE GREEN SITE EACH WEEK. YOU CAN STREAM THE SEGMENT AT APPROXIMATELY 1220PM (CENTRAL) EVERY TUESDAY AT WDAY.COM OR, IF YOU’RE IN NORTH DAKOTA OR WESTERN MINNESOTA, LISTEN ON YOUR RADIO AT AM970 WDAY.
In case you missed it, a dramatic pipeline explosion in Canada this past weekend caused Xcel Energy officials to ask all of its residential and commercial natural gas customers in Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin to cut back on use of the fuel by turning thermostats to 60 degrees and avoiding the use of appliances that are run by natural gas.
So, in light of our shared experience, I thought we could revisit some ways to conserve energy. As we go through our daily routines there are simple things we can do to reduce our impact on the planet.
Here some things you could start doing today:
In your kitchen:
- Clean off the top of your refrigerator. Storing things on top of your refrigerator actually makes it work harder – interfering with its operation and using more energy.
- Keep local and organic foods in your fridge.
- If you’re using is correctly, a dishwasher actually uses less energy than washing by hand with hot water.
- Don’t rinse your dishes before placing them in the dishwasher. This save the planet 6,500 gallons of water per year and you at least $30 per year. Scrape your food scraps into a compost bin.
- Run your dishwasher on the economy cycle or prop the dishwasher door open to air-dry, rather than using the heater dry function.
- Only run your dishwasher when it’s completely full.
- Save energy and time when boiling water by placing a lid on the pot.
- A few minutes before you’re finished cooking, turn the burners off completely. The residual heat will finish the job.
- A heated oven loses 20% of its heat every time it’s opened. Use the light to check on your food.
In your bathroom:
- Save water by turning off the tap while you brush your teeth.
- Keep your shower time to five minutes or less.
- Repair leaky faucets or toilets. A single dripping hot water faucet can waste up to 200 gallons of water a month.
In your home office:
- Turn off your computer and printer when you’re not using them, or you can use the power or energy save option.
- Unplug chargers for cell phones and other rechargeable devices when not in use; they still use energy when they’re plugged in.
- Reuse envelopes and backsides of paper, print double-sided and purchase high recycled content paper.
In your laundry room:
- Wash only full loads of laundry.
- Front loading washing machines can save as much as 40 cents per load.
- Use cold or warm setting for your washer, not hot. This can save 10 to 20 cents per load.
- Use non-toxic laundry detergents to avoid harmful exposure to chemical detergents and water pollution.
- Dry clothes the natural way whenever possible. Hang clothes outside on warm days and hang up lines inside for the winter.
- Irons use as much energy as ten 100-watt light bulbs.
- Clean out your lint filter every time you use your dryer so it doesn’t have to work as hard.
Around your home:
- Check furnace or heat pump filters once a month for blockages and replace them regularly. A dirty air filter can increase your energy costs and lead to early equipment failure.
- Wrap with insulation any hot-water pipes that pass through unheated spaces. For steam pipes, use non-foam insulation, because foam can melt.
- Keep your warm air vents clean.
- Keep drapes or furniture away from radiators and baseboard heaters so heat can flow freely.
- A programmable thermostat can save you $100 a year when programmed and used properly.
- You can save 3% per day on your heating bill for every one degree that you lower your thermostat setting. For example, if you normally keep your thermostat at 75 degrees and you lower it to 72 degrees, you can save 9%.
- Remove window air conditioners when the weather gets cool. If you can’t, enclose them with a cover.
- Use an efficient humidifier to maintain comfortable humidity levels and help you conserve heat. Proper humidity helps you feel comfortable without turning up the heat.
- Use ceiling fans to circulate warm air in winter, especially in rooms with high ceilings.
- Next to heating or cooling, water heating is typically the largest energy user in the home. To conserve energy, conserve hot water. Set your water heater no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit or about midway between the low and medium settings
- When you leave a room, turn off the lights.
My Green Side’s web pick of the week:
The Alliance to Save Energy has been working since 1977 to build a stronger, more energy-efficient America. The Alliance is staffed by a core group of professionals with diverse expertise. Committed to advancing energy efficiency as our greatest energy resource, Alliance staff promote the organization’s mission through research, education and advocacy.
“Time and again, the Alliance has shown that energy efficiency is typically the fastest and cheapest way to reduce greenhouse gas and other emissions while improving our economic competitiveness, natural security and public health.”