22+ Tips for a Greener Life

It doesn’t take a lot of time or money to start living green, and with a few simple changes, you can start small and build new habits that will lead to a more eco-friendly life. In honor of Earth Month, here are a few easy and inexpensive ways to tread lightly on the earth this year.

Protect both the environment and your pocketbook with these 22+Tips for a greener life:

Inside the Home

1) Install a Programmable Thermostat
A programmable thermostat allows you to decrease run times when you are away or asleep. This way energy isn’t wasted.

2) Set the Thermostat Higher in Summer, Lower in Winter
When you are home, set your thermostat a little higher in summer or lower in winter. Lowering the thermostat in winter can reduce energy usage by 3 percent, for instance.
http://www.pnm.com/save/energy_tips_winter.htm
http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/consumptionbriefs/recs/thermostat_settings/methodology.html
http://www.ccetompkins.org/energysavings/factsheets/thermostat.html
http://www.warmair.net/html/thermostats.htm (Very useful calculator)

3) Use LED bubls
CFLs use 78% less energy than incandescent bulbs.
https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/save-electricity-and-fuel/lighting-choices-save-you-money/led-lighting

4) Become a Microwave Gourmet
Microwaves use 50% less energy than conventional ovens. Another benefit is that in summer a microwave won’t contribute additional heat to the kitchen, prompting the air conditioner to run more.
https://www.brit.co/microwave-recipes/

5) Shade Sun-Facing Windows in Summer With Awnings, Curtains, etc. in Summer
Reduce the amount of unwanted heat that enters your home during the summer, and in turn reduce air conditioner use.
http://downtownhomestead.com/landscaping-energy-efficient-home/

6) Open Sun-Facing Windows in Winter
In winter, do the opposite. Open your sun-facing windows to allow the sun to come in and warm your home, meaning less use of the heater.

7) Change Air Filters Regularly
Change the air filter for your heater and air conditioner regularly. A dirty, clogged filter makes the heater or A/C run more.
http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=heat_cool.pr_hvac

BONUS TIPS:

Cold Wash
Not you, but your clothes. By turning your washer settings to cold/cold and turning off the hot water valve you cut down on the amount of energy consumed by your hot water tank. Cutting the energy use cuts your gas or electric bill, and chances are your clothes won’t notice the difference as much as your wallet.

Change Your Shower Head
According to the EPA, by installing a WaterSense labeled shower head the average house can save up to 2,300 gallons of water per year. That reduces your carbon footprint by cutting the water heating costs by 300 kilowatts per year. Check out your local home center or hardware store to find out what will work for you.

Turn Off the Water When You Brush Your Teeth
Conserving water when performing everyday grooming tasks like bathing, showering or brushing your teeth is an excellent way to start living green. How many times have you let the water run for minutes while you brush your teeth or wash your face? Water is a precious resource and you could conceivably save gallons of water by becoming more mindful about letting the tap run while brushing your teeth.

In the Yard

8) Use an Automatic Water Sprinkler Timer
Use an automatic water sprinkler and consult your local water district for optimal watering times. Consider one with a rain sensor, so your sprinklers don’t run needlessly when it is rainy.
http://allaroundthe.house/lawn-sprinkler-ultimate-guide/

9) Stagger Watering Times
On top of using an automatic sprinkler timer, stagger watering times in areas where runoff occurs quickly to minimize waste and pollution. If runoff starts after 5 minutes, but your yard requires 15 minutes of watering, run three separate sessions of 5 minutes each at intervals that are 60-90 minutes apart.
http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/TOOLS/TURF/MAINTAIN/cycle.html
http://www.snwa.com/html/land_irrig_cycle.html
http://www.weatherset.com/Explain/SmartWatering.html
http://allaroundthe.house/watering-your-lawn/

10) Mulch
Prevent weeds and rapid soil moisture loss by applying mulch to your gardens and flowerbeds. Even your yard can benefit — today’s electric lawn mowers also mulch, meaning they leave finely cut blades of grass on the yard after mowing. These clippings decompose and fertilize the grass while helping the ground retain moisture. This both reduces watering and the use of artificial fertilizers, which pollute water supplies through runoff.
http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/FEATURE/BACKYARD/benmulch.html

11) Xeriscape
Xeriscaping is the replacement of water-hungry grass and plants with drought-resistant varieties (often native to the area) and alternate ground coverings such as rocks.
http://allaroundthe.house/guide-planning-low-maintenance-landscape/

12) Plant Trees.
Trees clean the air and shade your home in summer. Just check with local guidelines and do your research ahead of time so that you plant a beneficial and low-maintenance tree. Planting a tree in your backyard is a fantastic way to go green and show your support for the Earth. Trees are the living embodiment of what it really means to “go green” because trees get rid of carbon dioxide in the air and release oxygen into the environment. If you don’t have a lawn or backyard, plant something green on your patio or balcony, or fill your apartment with houseplants. Living plants like Boston ferns are a healthy addition to your home, as they help offset the pollutants lurking in our home environment by purifying the air. Before you bring plants home, check to make sure they are safe and non-toxic for children and pets. Adding plants or trees to your life is an easy and inexpensive action that can yield big benefits for the earth.

13) Don’t Hose Down to Clean, Sweep Instead
Don’t waste water hosing down your walkways. Sweep with a broom instead.

14) Don’t Use Gas-Powered Tools for Yard. Go Electric or Push.
Don’t pollute the air and drive up the demand for gasoline. Instead, consider electric tools or push tools, which are quieter and cleaner to operate.

Finances; Record Keeping

15) Go Paperless
More and more banks and other businesses are giving their customers the ability to opt out of receiving paper bills and correspondence. Going paperless not only saves trees, but also reduces clutter around your home, which in turn helps control indoor dust buildup. Paperless delivery drives down costs for providers and means less vehicles operating to deliver paper mail.

16) Print Efficiently
There are four easy ways to print more efficiently.

a) Learn to use Print Preview to see how a document will look when printed, rather than actually printing it.

b) Use a virtual printer to preserve documentation in PDF files rather than on paper; this is great for printing verification of online transactions, for instance.
http://www.pdfforge.org/pdfcreator

c) When you have to print, consider printing on both sides of the page to reduce paper usage.
http://word.tips.net/Pages/T001418_Printing_On_Both_Sides_of_the_Paper.html
http://blog.techsoup.org/node/579

d) Use the print selection option or programs that prevent the printing of unnecessary advertisements and empty space.
http://www.denningesolutions.com/howto_printselection.html

Electronics

17) Unplug Electrical Devices When Not in Use

Appliances and household electronics may appear to be dead when you hit the off button; however, these items still consume power and waste precious electricity when they remain plugged into outlets. Make it a habit to go through your home unplugging these electrical vampires that silently suck electricity even when they aren’t active. After you’ve turned off appliances and unplugged them, make it a new habit to also shut off lights whenever you leave a room.

BONUS TIP:

Using a power strip is another great way to save electricity. Plug all your devices like the computer, printer and scanner into a power strip and turn it off when you leave your office to ensure these devices won’t draw any electricity when not in use. (Don’t forget to turn your computer off when you’re done using it–leaving your computer on and using a screensaver is another energy drain!)

18) Use E-books and E-Readers Instead of Newspapers and Books
With inventions such as Amazon’s Kindle and continued development of smart phones and portable media players, it is possible to comfortably read from the screen.

Transportation

19) Walk or Bike
Spare the air, reduce gasoline consumption, and get some exercise.

20) Keep Your Car Maintained
A well-maintained car pollutes less and runs more efficiently, meaning less fuel consumption. Also, proactive maintenance prevents costly breakdowns. Have your car’s oil changed regularly (consult your owner’s manual and sites like AAA to determine the optimal schedule).

BONUS TIP:

Check Your Tires
By running your tires at the recommended pressure you save gas mileage and reduce wear-and-tear. Every three pounds of pressure you are low can decrease fuel economy by about 1 percent. Also, if your tires are at different pressures they can wear incorrectly causing possible alignment issues later on.

21) Organize Your Errands

Make sure you plan out your route before you do any sort of running around. Try and combine trips to spend less time on the road. Do you need to go to the post office today? Or can it wait till tomorrow when you go grocery shopping. By reducing your time on the road you reduce fuel consumption and harmful emissions. However, the nicest “green” benefit might be the stuff that’s staying in your pocket when you don’t have to fill your tank as often.

22) Car Pool
Many of your local cities offer park-and-ride lots to help accommodate carpooling. Another benefit is that you can use the carpool lane to make your commute quicker. Talk with your coworkers or check on-line resources to find out more about what’s offered in your area.

 

If you think that going green isn’t accessible to the average person and takes too much time, effort or money, these tips show how easy it is to start living a more sustainable life. Follow one small step at a time until it becomes a habit, and then add another green tip to your day.
Incorporate a few of these easy changes into your life, and in no time at all, you’ll be well on your way to becoming part of the green movement!

All of these ideas are relatively easy and inexpensive to implement. Please share your tips in the comments!