Whether you're surfing the Internet, driving your car, cooking dinner or running the air conditioner, you're using energy. The fact is, people rely on electricity and fossil fuels to get them through most of their daily activities. Energy is costly, however, and its production often has negative environmental consequences. If you're looking to save some money and reduce your environmental impact, take some basic steps to conserve energy at home, on the road and at the office.
Start at Home
The best place to conserve energy is the place where you spend the most time: your home. Heating is usually the biggest household energy draw, so change your air filters, tune up your equipment, seal your ducts and turn down the thermostat when you're away. You can also adjust your water heater and cooling system to work more efficiently. Turn off and unplug appliances when you're not using them, and don't run partial loads in your washer, dryer or dishwasher. If your fridge runs continually, raise the temperature or consider replacing it. Switch out any incandescent light bulbs in your house with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), and don't leave your computer or television on when you're not using it (see References 1).
The U.S. Department of Energy Office of Efficiency warm up your car by driving it instead. Speeding, rapid acceleration and hard braking waste gas by up to one third, so slow down and drive moderately. Clear out any extra weight and avoid using roof racks unless it's necessary. Keep your tires properly inflated, get regular tuneups and change your air and oil filters. Try to combine all your errands into a single trip, and if you can stand your co-workers, ask them to carpool with you (see References 2).
Implement energy-saving tactics at work to save your business money and help the environment. Make sure all incandescent bulbs are replaced with CFLs, and remind people to switch off lights they aren't using. Turn off the lights near windows, and in hot months, use window shades to help cool the office space. Ask your co-workers to turn off their computers and monitors at the end of the day, and turn off the copier as well. Save paper by making double-sided copies and only copying what you need. Ask your manager about having a qualified professional perform an energy audit, and suggest remote meetings when possible instead of business travel (see References 3).
Sometimes your energy use is the result of an inefficient building. If that's the case, you might consider remodeling, changing the landscaping or even moving to a new space. An energy-efficient building can help you make use of passive solar heating and ventilation for cooling, and incorporate materials that will reduce your energy use for heating, cooling and lighting (see References 4). You can also use energy-efficient landscaping strategies: grow plants that are native to your climate so they won't need as much care and water. Use trees for shading and windbreaks, which will save you money on cooling and heating costs (see References 5).
An award-winning blogger, Jessica Blue has been promoting sustainability, natural health and a do-it-yourself attitude since graduating University of California, Berkeley in 2000. Her work, seen in a wide variety of publications, advocates an environmentally-responsible and healthy lifestyle.
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