Listen, I’m not going to Al Bore you by telling you to give your house to the birds to live in a mud cave underground. Yes, that would make life a little more interesting, but most of us like bathing in water that isn’t home to poisonous snakes. However, there are a few simple things that you can do around your house to save some of that sexy green stuff in your wallet.
1. Don’t throw away what you can fix, and improve.
Every year, more than 250 tons of trash is tossed into U.S. trashcans. Some of this eventually gets dumped into a landfill where it will exist until far beyond our lives. Mother Earth will throw her weight around and this trash will be left behind broken and barely identifiable, until the aliens come down to dig through our remains. Then, these landfills will be goldmines of information about how filthy we are.
Landfills are an eyesore; they are proof that we don’t know how to be intelligent consumers. Instead of completely throwing away an entire refrigerator and purchasing an expensive investment, you can easily go online and ask millions of well-informed people how to fix your problem. If your refrigerator is leaking water, you can go to PartSelect.com and quickly find out why. You can even buy the new part for your refrigerator right there on their website because they like to make your life easier. It is usually better to just make a small fix on an appliance than to waste the money and resources on an entirely new one.
2. Save water.
They say that water is the new oil, and they aren’t making a joke about the BP Oil Spill. The National Energy Renewable Laboratory has stated that water supplies are shrinking because of droughts and non-sustainable groundwater. As the price of water grows, we need to find ways to be less wasteful. Here are a handful of simple ways to save water:
- If you shorten your shower by 1 or 2 minutes, you could save 150 gallons a month.
- Turn off the water while brushing your teeth to save 25 gallons a month.
- Turn off the water while you shave and save up to 300 gallons a month.
- The “If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down,” approach.
- Use vinegar and a cloth towel to clean up spills instead of paper towels and water.
3. Use less paper.
Trees may not be very good conversationalists, but they provide oxygen for all forms of life. We need them, so you can shrink the demand for newly-cut trees by buying 100% recycled paper, envelopes, and toilet paper, which is probably the type of paper you use the most. Also, make sure to remove yourself from junk mail lists. A simple way to do this is at OptOutPrescreen.com where you can opt out of those aggressive credit card offers. And if you have a budding artist in your family, buy them a chalkboard so they won’t waste paper. Then they can easily wipe down their terrible drawings to draw something better.
4. Watch your temperature to save energy.
Most of your electric bill comes from your heater and air conditioner, or that embarrassing model train collection you keep in your basement. Here are a few tips to help you reduce the energy needed to keep your home cozy so you can afford more trains, or whatever weird thing you’re interested in.
- Wear less clothing in the summer and more in the winter. Unfortunately, we don’t grow and shed a coat of fur like some animals.
- If you have an old fireplace, get it in working condition and use it when you don’t need to heat the whole house. Also, it looks cool.
- Keep your curtains and drapes closed in the winter to keep warm air from escaping, and to hide your family from the abominable snowmen.
- Use ceiling fans in the summer instead of running your air conditioner, and keep your windows open when the temperature outside is nice.
5. Strategically use light.
Because we aren’t bats, the lighting in our homes is pretty important to us. I’m sure most have you have heard about the new initiative by many different power companies to switch from incandescent light bulbs to the more efficient Compact Fluorescent Lights. Here are a few more things you can do.
- Natural lighting is better for your eyes anyway, so open your blinds during the daytime instead of using ceiling lights.
- Mirrors can make a room more interesting and help reflect some of that natural light around the house. They can also reveal which of your friends is secretly a vampire.
- It is pretty easy to make your own recycled homemade candles from the dead husks of used ones. They can be used to change the mood of a room, and save money when you don’t exactly need a light on.
There are plenty of other ways to save money while helping to improve the environment. These are just a few, and I’m sure you already have a dozen or so of your own that you can share. If so, I would like to hear them.
Guest author Malia Anderson is a content specialist and freelance author based out of Greensboro, NC. She enjoys pottery, fixing up her first home, and playing the ukelele.