25 Simple Ways to Use Green Technology At Home

Here’s 25 simple ways you can start using green technology today to lighten your energy load on the planet.

1. Have all members of your household commit to turning off lights you are not using. As a rule of thumb, there should be a maximum of one light on in your house per person at any given time.

2. If you’re going to be away from your computer or other appliance for more than an hour, turn it off as you leave the room.

3. Many electronics use electricity even when they’re turned off. Eliminate "phantom load" by plugging your TV and accessories into one power strip and switching off the whole strip when not in use. At least 5% of the average household’s monthly utility bill goes towards powering devices that are turned off.

4. Switch from 75-watt incandescent bulbs to 19-watt compact fluorescent bulbs.

5. Move your refrigerator away from the wall and clean the coils behind and beneath it every six months for a dramatic increase in energy efficiency. The refrigerator is usually the biggest energy-using appliance in a home.

6. If it’s time to buy a new refrigerator, make sure it’s an energy-efficient Energy Star model. If possible, upgrade any pre-1993 refrigerator you are using to an Energy Star model. Recycle old refrigerators as trash instead of giving them away to someone else to waste energy.

7. Schedule an energy audit on your home and identify ways you can use less electricity and plug energy leaks in your home. Your local utility company may provide audits for free, or seek out the advice of a paid professional whose comprehensive recommendations may save you even more money and energy in the long run. Make a plan for immediate, mid-range and long term goals you can attain, and then do them!

8. Lower your thermostat by a degree in winter and raise it by a degree in summer.

9. Don’t heat or cool empty rooms.

10. Dry some or all of your clothes on a laundry rack or clothesline instead of using a dryer. Or dry 5 minutes in the dryer to remove wrinkles, then hang outside to air dry. Visit www.laundrylist.org for line drying info and tips.

11. With modern washers and detergents, washing your clothes in cold water gets them just as clean as washing in hot water, but it uses half the energy. About 13 percent of the energy used in your household goes to heating hot water.

12. Turn down your gas hot water heater from 140 degrees to 120 degrees.

13. Insulating your hot water heater and pipes with a covering can reduce heat losses by 24-45 percent, trimming as much as ten percent off your water-heating costs.

14. Saving water means saving energy. The energy used to transport and treat the water that runs out of your tap for five minutes would power a 60-watt bulb for 14 hours. Fix any water leaks around your house and replace faucets and showerheads with low-flow alternatives.

15. Skip the energy-intensive drying cycle on your dishwasher and choose the "air-dry" option, or open the door overnight.

16. Install Energy Star ceiling fans in your most-used rooms.

17. Use heavy curtains and drapes to cut down on heat loss in winter and keep the hot sun out in summer. Awnings on the outside of your windows are about 50 percent more efficient than indoor drapes because they stop the sun before it even hits the glass.

18. Plant trees to shade your windows and help reduce cooling costs. Shading an AC unit can increase its efficiency by ten percent. In winter months, trees and shrubs can act as wind blockers to buffer your home from chilling winds.

19. If you are in the market to buy a new TV, choose an LCD screen rather than a plasma, which uses six times as much energy. Always look for the Energy Star label.

20. Bring reusable shopping bags with you to all stores instead of using free plastic bags supplied by the store. Petition your legislators to ban free plastic bags in your town, state or country. Visit this web link for a 1-minute, eye-popping slideshow on the facts about planetary plastic bag overload: http://www.poconorecord.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080506/MULTIMEDIA02/80505016

21. Drive a car that gets 35 mpg instead of the national average of 25 mpg.

22. Cut down your driving radius by using local service providers and buying products locally. You may also find this saves you several hours of time each week!

23. Purchase locally grown food and grow some of your own food.

24. Eat raw food that requires no cooking.

25. Eat less meat.

Sources: AARP Bulletin, May 2008; Co-op America Quarterly, Summer 2008.

Visit www.coopamerica.org for additional tips, ideas and resources for making your home a lean, mean, energy-efficient machine. Co-op America is dedicated to creating a just and sustainable society by harnessing economic power for positive change. In addition to education, boycott campaigns and outreach events, Co-op America publishes guides to responsible investing, shopping and living, including the National Green Pages™.