Air pollution. Greenhouse gas emissions. Global warming. Bringing attention to environmental issues like these are what Earth Day is all about. But what can you—a single, solitary person—really do to help save the planet? Plenty.
You could plant a tree, ride your bike to work, and buy your produce from a local farm instead of a big name grocer. You could also use rechargeable batteries, pay your bills online, and opt for paper instead of plastic bags at the store.
In your home, there are even more actions you can take that will help the planet on Earth Day…and every day.
An average home has about 45 lights that continually drain energy when left on. Swap out your incandescent or halogen bulbs with more efficient compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs. If each U.S. household replaced just one less efficient bulb with a CFL, the reduction in pollution would be equal to removing 1 million cars from the road.
Better yet, upgrade to LEDs. Although more expensive on the front end, they’ll save you more over time because they last up to 15 times longer and are up to 60% more efficient than CFLs.
Upgrade to TDDs
No artificial light source is as efficient as the sun, so open the curtains or blinds instead of flipping on your electric lights. Or install a tubular daylighting device (TDD). Also known as a tubular skylight, this alternative lighting option captures sunshine and brings it inside your home through a highly reflective tube, allowing you to cut electricity use by turning your artificial lights off during the day.
For the ultimate in lighting efficiency, look for hybrid TDD offerings. These units use sunlight to brighten your home during the day and ultra-efficient LEDs for nighttime lighting. The Solatube® Smart LED™ System even triggers the LEDs automatically, so they’ll only turn on when you really need them. The unit can also be outfitted with an Occupancy Sensor that prevents the LEDs from activating unless a person is actually in the room. So you’ll never have to worry about wasting energy from leaving the lights on.
Use ceiling fans
When warm weather arrives, annual energy bills can increase by up to $120 with the use of air conditioning. To conserve energy and keep bills under control, use a ceiling fan to distribute cool air throughout your home. It can make the air feel up to 10 degrees cooler while reducing the strain on the power grid.
Adjust the thermostat
If you absolutely must use your air conditioning, adjust the thermostat one or two degrees higher than you normally do. Each degree can cut your energy use as much as 10%. Using a programmable thermostat is even better because it can be set to automatically adjust when you’re away.
Install a solar attic fan
Another way to minimize your air conditioning use is to install a solar attic fan. These solar-powered units vent hot air from your attic to keep your interior cooler. This minimizes your need for air conditioning, cuts your electricity use and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
Motor power, body design and aesthetics are all considerations when selecting a solar fan. High-quality Solar Star Attic Fans are a good option because they combine a high-performance motor with a Venturi body design for powerful, reliable performance and whisper-soft operation. And thanks to integrated solar panels and a low-profile design, Solar Star Attic Fans are compact and attractive, so they beautifully maintain your home’s curb appeal.
Take shorter showers
Did you know that you use twice as much water in the bathtub than in the shower? To control your water use, replace baths with showers and limit yourself to just one bath per week. You could even institute an occasional “showers only” week in your household. You’ll save by cutting back on your water consumption as well as the energy needed to heat the water.
If you’re already a shower person, you can still cut energy by shortening your showers to 5 minutes. You’ll not only save thousands of gallons of water but also hundreds of pounds of carbon dioxide emissions annually.
Don't run the water
Do you run the water while you’re brushing your teeth? If so, you’re wasting water. Refrain from turning on the faucet until you’re ready to rinse, and you’ll save as much as 5 gallons a day.
Skip the pre-wash
Don’t rinse your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. Just insert them as they are and your dishwasher will do the rest. You’ll save up to 20 gallons of water each load, and conserve the energy you would have used to heat the water.
Wash full loads
Run the washing machine only when you have a full load of clothes and reduce water temperature. If all U.S. households used the warm-cold cycle instead of the hot-hot cycle, the country could save the amount of energy equivalent to 100,000 barrels of oil a day. Replacing machines that are 10 years or older can save energy too.
Adjust your water heater
Another way to conserve energy is by adjusting the heat settings on your water heater from 120° F to 140° F (48.8° C to 60° C). This small action alone could save you $80 or more per year.
Regulate frig temps
Your refrigerator doesn’t need to be ice-cold to keep your food and beverages from spoiling. Setting the thermostat between 35° F and 40° F (1.6° C and 4.4° C) is sufficient to keep your food fresh, and it also can save you up to 20% in energy.
A second refrigerator or freezer that’s an older model can further increase your energy use. If you can live without it, consider recycling it for increased savings.
Turn off devices
Even when they’re not turned on, devices you leave plugged into a wall outlet draw power. These culprits are easiest to spot at night. Just look for the glowing lights on your TV, DVD player, tablet and other devices.
You can reduce electricity use and save up to $300 a year by using a smart strip or by simply unplugging items when they’re not in use.
ADD IT ALL UP
If you take these actions, you could save almost $2000 a year on your energy bill. With Earth Day just around the corner, now is a great time to incorporate them into your every day routine. If you do, you’ll not only have a more efficient home but you’ll also be helping to improve the health of the planet 365 days a year.
What other activities have you undertaken to save energy in your home?
Images courtesy of Stuart Miles, Idea go, Keerati and adamr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.