On the first earth day in 1970, the skies in industrial cities were gray with pollution, and a nasty film of soot covered cars and clothes hanging out to dry. Trash flew across US highways, and cigarette butts were dumped everywhere. Today it’s a different story, smog is something that we see in pictures of Beijing and Shanghai. No one in a state with a recycling law would dream of throwing away a can of Coca Cola, and supermarkets have stopped providing plastic bags. The Green revolution has momentum and a great tailwind behind it to yield greater good. On this Earth Day in 2014 here are some simple ways to save energy, the environment, and money all at the same time!
- Install a Programmable Thermostat – Invest in a Nest Thermostat, if your thermostat isn’t programmed you could be wasting around $173 a year. Because many of us don’t program our thermostats – they’re just too complicated!
- Minimize Phantom Loads – The term “phantom load” refers to the energy that an appliance or electronic device consumes when it is not actually turned on. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), “In the average home, 75 percent of the electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while the products are turned off.” Unplug your appliances when not in use or try the Belkin Conserve Switch.
- Change your light bulbs – LED Lighting has come down so much in price and its efficiencies have increased to make it the go to source for new lighting in all applications. If you need new lights for your home, the best bang for your buck would come from the CREE Series of Light Bulbs at Home Depot.
- Take Shorter Showers – Cutting shower time can save a surprising amount of water, using an average number of 2.5 gallons per minute from the typical shower head, reducing your shower length by 4 minutes per day would save (assuming you shower every day, ahem) 3650 gallons per year. In addition to saving water, you also save the energy required to heat that water to shower temperature.
- Look for the Energy Star Logo – If you are shopping for new appliances, make sure to look for the Energy Star label before making a purchase. Energy Star appliancesuse between 10 and 50 percent less energy and water than their conventional counterparts.
- Drive Less – A very easy way to save money and the environment is to drive less, these days it’s a lot easier with on demand driving apps from Uber or Lyft. Some of my friends don’t even have a car anymore!
- Recycle at home – Make it a habit to separate your paper, plastic, and bottles. Most cities offer free recycling programs and bins, and you won’t have to take out the trash as often!
- Get Off the Grid – The benefit of economies of scale and mass production is that solar prices have come down so much. With tax breaks and state incentives, homeowners and businesses should take a hard look as the benefits are endless. Companies like Sun Edison and Solar City have made it easier than ever to make that decision!
- Improve Your Insulation – More than 50 percent of a home’s energy use goes toward heating and cooling. Beefing up the insulation in your house’s attic, walls, floors and ceilings slows the flow of air between the inside and outside, making it easier to control your home’s temperature. The easiest place to add insulation in your home is the attic. You can find out how much insulation you have in your attic — and how much you can add — in How to Insulate Your Attic and Save Money Year-round.
- Go Plant A Tree – Finally, I think it would be important to do something selfless, for the greater good of society. Trees provide benefits that directly improve our quality of life. Trees purify and cool the air, reduce stormwater runoff, and conserve energy. They beautify neighborhoods, and improve human health and well-being. Find our how you can volunteer to plant a tree here.
Your time is now. What are you going to do to help our environment? Share your own tips in the comments below.
Top photo: phototokyo2014 / flickr
Ben Pouladian is the president at Los Angeles-based LED Lighting manufacturing firm Deco Lighting and is an author of numerous patents and technologies in the field of energy efficiency. He spends most his time helping businesses, municipalities, and schools on their energy efficiency needs.