6 ways to celebrate Earth Day in your Proud Green Home
For Earth Day 2011, organizers are asking people to sign up for “A Billion Acts of Green.” You don’t have to stop at just one. You can make every day an Earth Day in your own home, no matter how big or small it may be.
Here’s a list of a few things you can do while saving a few dollars as well.
Invest in energy-saving appliances
The average family spends $2,200 a year on energy bills, nearly half of which goes to heating and cooling, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Depending on where you live, replacing your old heating and cooling equipment with equipment that’s earned the Energy Star label can cut your annual energy bill by more than $200. (Photo via Flickr/g_kat26).
Install energy-efficient lighting
Lighting makes up only about 9 percent of the average household’s energy use, but because the prices for energy-saving bulbs continue to drop, buying new bulbs typically pays off in less than a year.
CFL: An Energy Star-qualified compact fluorescent light can save more than $40 in electricity costs over its lifetime, uses about 75 percent less energy than standard incandescent bulbs and lasts up to 10 times longer. The spiral bulbs do contain a small amount of mercury, so recycle burned-out units rather than throwing them in the trash. If a CFL breaks, do not touch the mercury with bare skin.
Halogen: A type of incandescent light, screw-in halogens are most often used as floodlights, under-counter lights and in other spots where highlights are needed. Halogens use less energy than standard incandescent but more than CFLs.
LED:Affordable LED light bulbs are beginning to show up in the marketplace with standard screw-in bulbs available ranging from $10 to $40. LEDs use 75 percent less energy than a standard incandescent bulb, produce very little heat and offer very long life. Manufacturers estimate 22,000 to 50,000 hours vs. 2,000 hours for an incandescent option. Some models offer dimming capabilities as well. LEDs are also available in floodlights, spotlights and other accent lighting. (Photo via Flickr/hozae).
Stop the vampires
Plugged-in electrical devices suck power, that’s why they’re called vampires. Save energy by unplugging electrical devices that draw power even when they’re not being used. Plug devices into a power strip that you can turn off easily. New smart power strips sense when a device is not being used and shut off the juice. Energy Star-rated devices typically use less power.
The U.S. EPA estimates that vampire power from the United States alone adds 87 billion pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually, and costs homeowners $5.8 billion per year. (Photo via Flickr/XWRN).
Make every drop count
Conserve our planet’s precious water supply with a few simple tips you can use daily:
- Use one drinking glass or reusable bottle per day, rather than disposable plastic bottles.
- Dump ice or leftover water on plants instead of down the drain.
- Turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth, shaving and soaping dishes.
- Switch to low-flow faucets, showerheads and toilets when possible.
- Run your dishwasher only when it's full. Don't pre-rinse dishes. Tests show pre-rinsing doesn't improve dishwasher cleaning, and you'll save as much as 20 gallons of water per load. When you buy a new dishwasher, look for water-efficient models that use only about only about 4 gallons per wash.
(Photo via Flickr/gagilas).
Buy recycled products
Look for products that incorporate recycled materials from home furnishing to construction materials. This encourages companies to use recycled materials and helps create a market that encourages people to recycle their waste.
Install a rain barrel to capture rainwater for the lawn and garden. You’ll save on water utility costs and your plants will love it.
Plant a tree
Summer daytime-air temperatures can be 3 degrees to 6 degrees cooler in tree-shaded neighborhoods than in treeless areas. In addition to trees, you can plant climbing roses or vines. A lattice or trellis with climbing vines, or a planter box with trailing vines, shades the home's perimeter and lets in cool breezes to the shaded area.
Sign up for your contribution to “A Billion Acts of Green”
Take our Earth Day poll on Facebook
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