So you’ve finally taken all those hybrid car commercials and “please recycle” bumper stickers to heart, and you’re jumping on the ‘green’ bandwagon. Not quite sure where to start? We’re here to help.
Even simple things can make a difference towards reducing your carbon footprint and living a sustainable lifestyle. So before you invest in a Prius or start planning your neighborhood’s next big Earth Day block party, consider the following baby steps:
1. Keep an eye on your thermostat: It can be tempting to crank the AC all day long, especially in the sweltering, summertime heat. Keep in mind that there are simple things you can do around the house to keep cool, such as shutting the blinds when no one is home, or opening windows and doors when there’s a breeze outside. In general, try to keep your thermostat set to 78°F or higher in the summertime and 68°F or lower in winter.
2. Unplug appliances: Chances are, you won’t be using the toaster for more than ten minutes at a time. Try to get in the habit of unplugging your small appliances (blenders, food processors, coffee makers, hairdryers etc.) when they aren’t in use. Try to use your larger appliances only when absolutely necessary. If the weather is a breezy, beautiful 75°F, consider hanging your clothes outside on a clothesline instead of using the dryer. If you’re just heating up leftovers, try to use the toaster oven or microwave instead of the standard size oven. These small habits can make a big difference.
3. Buy energy efficient light bulbs and/or appliances: According to Energy Star and the EPA, if every American household replaced a single light bulb in their home with an Energy Star approved, energy-efficient bulb, we could prevent approximately 9 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions every year. That’s the same as the GHG emissions from about 800,000 cars!
4. Turn off the lights: If you’re leaving the house, be sure to shut off all the lights and any electronics (television, computer, game units etc.). If you have children, be sure to set an example for them, and from an early age, get them in the habit of turning off the lights and those unused electronics.
5. Don’t leave the water running: On a similar note, be sure to shut off the faucet when you’re not actively washing your hands, cooking, etc. The American Dental Association recommends that we brush our teeth for an average of two minutes, at least twice a day. Can you imagine how much water we waste by leaving the faucet running the whole time?
6. Use water sparingly when gardening/tending to the lawn: You might want to find out from a lawn care specialist the minimum amount of time required to effectively water the lawn, or do some research to find an irrigation method that may help conserve water. Be sure to never leave hoses running unnecessarily.
7. Carpool or bike: It happens all the time… you meet your friends/neighbors for dinner or at an event and realize that (even though you all live close by) everyone has brought separate cars. To drive the point home (no pun intended), passenger cars contribute to about 11,450 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions each year. Let’s all do our part to reduce our emissions!
8. Keep your car well maintained: If your province/state has annual emissions testing requirements, be sure to abide by them. If not, it’s a good idea to get your emissions checked out anyway. A well maintained vehicle is more likely to produce fewer and less harmful emissions than an older vehicle that has been neglected.
9. Recycle: Most neighborhoods offer recycling pickup as a part of their waste removal services. Find out which materials are accepted through your neighborhood’s recycling program (paper, cardboard, plastic, aluminum, etc.), or find a local recycling center if you have anything else you’d like to recycle.
10. Paper or plastic? Choose neither: We know you’ve seen those reusable, cloth shopping bags at your local grocery store. Use them! For about a dollar, they’re an extremely cost-efficient way to contribute to your green efforts. They also make the chore of bringing the groceries in from the car so much easier!
Have any other simple tips to share with us? We would love to hear! Connect with us on Just Energy Facebook and share your going green stories and efforts with us.