Emvironmental Love: Energy

Posted on 20 August 2009

A few more of my personal earth-loving strategies, concerning energy…

1. Use the “low” setting on your dryer, or—even better—hang things out on a clothes line or indoor clothes rack to dry.  This is a particularly good method for items like t-shirts, undies and gym clothes that don’t really need to be all fluffed and nice-looking. 

2. I think I may have mentioned this in my post on water, but turn your water heater down to 120 degrees Fahrenheit, and was clothes in cold or warm water rather than hot.  The soap is doing most of the work, anyways.

2. For the items that do need to go in the dryer, use dryer balls!  Keep a sharp eye out for them at your local CVS/Bed, Bath and Beyond.  They’re great for saving energy in your dryer, and mean that you never have to waste money/energy on dryer sheets again!  More specifically, these are two plastic balls with stiff points all over them.  In addition to dissipating that pesky ol’ static cling, they bounce around in the dryer and help spread your laundry out so it dries quicker.

3. Turn off the lights whenever you leave a room (don’t be afraid of the dark!) and use compact fluorescent light bulbs.  Despite the slight pause you sometimes encounter between flipping the switch and having light, they are totally worth it! 

4. Open your dishwasher when it begins the “dry” cycle.  While it air-dries, you save the electrity necessary to heat the dishwasher for an extra half hour.

5. Unplug things that aren’t being used.  This includes things like toasters and blenders, but particularly battery chargers and appliances that have clocks on them like microwaves; all of these items continue to sip energy from your system as long as the plug is in the wall.  Only charge things when they need it.

6. Make an effort not to automatically turn on or leave on the air conditioning in your car and home.  For example, if you’re driving slower than 60 mph, you actually get better gas mileage driving with the windows down than with the air conditioning turned on.  As long as it’s not stifling out, this is worth the trouble and the extra noise.  Using air conditioning in stop and go traffic can reduce your fuel efficiency by up to 12 percent.

7. You can also save gas (and help the environment by reducing carbon emissions) by turning off your car engine if you’re sitting at a light or in traffic for longer than 10 seconds.  Starting up your car again is more fuel efficient than idling for more than 10 seconds.  Making sure your car’s tires are inflated correctly, air filter is clean, and engine regularly tuned also gives you better gas mileage.  Low tire pressure wastes over two million gallons of gas a DAY in the U.S., and your fuel economy drops 1 percent for every pound of tire pressure below recommended levels. 

8. Drive less (Bike!  Walk!  Skate!  Ski!) and combine multiple shopping trips into a single trip to one area.  Try to drive slower (I know, it’s hard!).  Aggressive driving (rapid acceleration and braking) can reduce gas mileage by as much as 33 percent on the highway and 5 percent in cities, while speeding on the highway by only 5 mph results in an average fuel economy loss of 6 percent. 

9. Along similar lines, pay attention to the weather outside to help guide what you do inside.  Close the shades on hot days to keep the sun out and preserve the cool indoor air, and open them during the winter to let the sun help warm the indoors.  Make sure your home is energy efficient by asking your utility company for a free home energy audit, and fixing the things that leak.

10. Think carefully before having children, and think even more carefully before having a second or third (or fourth…etc.) child.  Overpopulation of the world is the leading threat to our own survival, both as a race and a planet, and current prospect is not pretty (see http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/overpopulation-is-main-threat-to-planet-521925.html).  More people means greater stress on the world’s limited resources, and ultimately higher levels of violence, strife, and starvation.  It also means more people living in close proximity to each other, which raises the risk of disease—helping to generate ever-stronger bugs that spread more quickly.

11. Plant a garden (or a collection of window boxes) and eat local!  If you can, keep a few chickens–they’re easy to care for and highly efficient trash disposals, not to mention convenient producers of fresh eggs and fertilizer. They also help control bugs.

12. Use less toilet paper, and buy recycled.  The average person uses a whopping, tree-guzzling 60 sheets a day to keep things in order.  Save trees, bleach, and unnecessary pollution  by aiming for three sheets per toidy visit!

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