It’s funny how simply flipping a little switch can have a big impact on our environmental footprint and our electricity bills.
You know in cartoons when someone gets a bright idea and a light bulb comes on over her head? Maybe that’s because taking a good look at your lighting is a great idea if you’re looking to shave off excess waste. Compact fluorescent light bulbs can cut around $30 off your electricity costs over the lifetime of each bulb because they use about 75 percent less energy and last up to 10 times longer than your run of the mill incandescent bulbs. Of course, the most efficient light bulb is one that is not turned on. Use natural light whenever possible and turn off the bulbs whenever they’re not needed. You might also want to look into task-specific lighting – a desk lamp, for example, can use less energy than overhead light fixtures.
• Heating and Air Conditioning:
Heating and cooling requires a little common sense, too. In the winter, open blinds that let the sun inside can help to warm offices just as in the summer, drawn blinds can help cool them. Go ahead and use that free natural resource – the sun – as a replacement for an expensive and dirty resource – coal–fueled electricity. Keep doors and windows shut to keep in the warm/cool air and forgo heating or air conditioning to an extreme.
Go ahead and turn that computer all the way off at the power strip. Allowing a computer to go into standby mode can use as much as 30% the machine’s normal energy expenditure so turning it off saves watts. Here are some other computer facts to keep in mind: Laptops use up to 90% less energy than the standard desktop; Ink– jet printers use up to 90% less energy than laser printers; Flat screed LCDs use approximately 1/3 the energy required for a CRT monitor.
The turnoff rule applies to any appliance or electrical doodad–when not in use, turn it off and if you can, unplug it. Many electronics still suck energy even when they’re supposed to be off. You can even save something like $150 a year if you unplug or recycle that extra fridge in the garage.
Good news for those of us with busy lives: Cooking with a microwave requires only two–thirds the juice that the stove demands and using that dishwasher is actually more efficient than hand washing your sticky cutlery. Just be sure to let the dishes air–dry.
When washing dirty garments, use the coldest water setting to refrain from wasting energy and line dry those laundered duds when possible. Not only will this washing approach save you an estimated 9 percent off your electricity bill, but your clothes with smell awesome.
If you must use the dryer, be sure to run it with full loads on the moisture–sensing setting and always clean out that lint trap.
• Buying New Appliances:
Energy Star equipment is the way to go. These are machines that have been certified by the EPA as preferable because they use less energy.