Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Top 10 Ways to Save Money and the Environment

Here are 10 ways you and your family can help our planet, and lower your water, heating and electricity bills:

1. Light Up Your Life EfficientlyKeep your curtains open during the day to let the sunshine and warmth in and save heating costs. Switch from incandescent light bulbs to energy efficient ones, such as Compact Florescent Lights (CFL), which provide lower wattages, last longer and use less energy. Your eyes will light up once you see the savings on your electricity bill.
2. Rubber Ducky, Maybe You’re Not the OneLimit your hot baths and lengthy showers. Install low-flow plumbing in your home, such as a low-flow showerhead. Almost half the hot water used in a typical household goes to daily showers. Install a timer on your hot water heater to coincide with peek usage and buy an insulating cover for it. Best of all, these items can be easily found at your local hardware store.
3. Energy Efficient Appliances — Out with the Old, in with the NewHousehold appliances that have the ENERGY STAR® rating will save energy. Consider buying a front-loading high efficiency washing machine, which uses less water and energy than top-loading models. The front-loading washing machines may cost more, but the energy savings you’ll reap from using an energy efficient washer add up. The spin cycles on these machines work so well that your clothes will spend less time in the dryer, saving you even more energy. Get rid of that old clunky fridge (yes, the one in your basement) and replace it with a new, energy efficient one. Old fridges are notorious for using excess electricity and inflating your bill.
4. Don’t Huff, Puff or Blow Your House Down — Just InsulateMake sure your floors, walls and roof are properly insulated, which will reduce heat loss in winter and retain cooler air in summer. If your roof is flat, plant a green roof and be the envy of all your neighbours. As for windows and doors, seal the tiny cracks and gaps with caulking and weather-stripping to keep out drafts and keep the temperature in your house constant.
5. Add a Layer, Subtract a Degree A programmable thermostat (with an ENERGY STAR® rating) will save energy and money. Set it to turn down two degrees in the winter while you’re sleeping, and pre-program it to come back to a comfortable temperature before you wake up. Do the same for when you’re away at work. You’ll save 1% on your electricity bill for every degree it’s set back over an eight-hour period. If you have central air conditioning, you can do the same in the summer, only set the thermostat to turn up two degrees when you're sleeping and away from the house. It's a small difference you won't notice except in your bank account!
6. E-Waste No MoreWhen sent to landfills, the heavy metals in computers can leach into the soil and potentially contaminate our groundwater. We can prevent this by recycling and/or donating our e-waste. Want to recycle? Find a company like Reboot or the Electronic Recycling Association in your neighbourhood. These not-for-profits accept computers and refurbish them for groups in need. Buying a new computer? Some companies, like Dell Canada, offer free recycling when you purchase a new computer. Want to donate? Under funded schools are often willing to give a charitable tax receipt for a computer in good working order. Don't know of a school in your area? Call Industry Canada's Computers for Schools toll-free at 1-888-636-9899.
7. Save Energy by Replacing Your Furnace FilterWhen your furnace filter is dirty, it reduces the airflow and forces the furnace to run longer to heat your home. A dirty filter can cause more suffering for people with allergies, asthma respiratory problems. Replace your furnace filter every one to two months to increase its efficiency.
8. A Watched Pot Never Boils (and Other Dinner Tips) Maybe a watched pot never boils but whether you watch yours or not, keep a lid on it - your pot will heat quicker and you’ll use less energy. Try not to open the oven door while cooking your dinner, either. The temperature will drop and your oven will begin to reheat. Use small appliances whenever possible, such as crock pots and toaster ovens. Better yet, invest in a solar oven.
9. Home D├ęcor Fit for an EnvironmentalistIf you’re renovating, consider buying fast-growing bamboo, sustainably harvested cork or reclaimed wood flooring. And if you need to replace your carpet, or re-upholster your favourite chair, shop around for vegetable-dyed carpets and fabrics. Need new bedding? Organic cottons and linens will help reduce those morning sniffles and you’ll love how they feel against your skin.
10. Green Energy for a Green PlanetSwitch to a supplier who uses non-polluting, renewable sources such as wind power and low-impact hydro facilities, instead of coal and nuclear power. It’s easy to sign up, and it doesn’t require any special equipment. You continue to draw power from your province’s electricity grid in the same way as before, except you’ll help combat green-house gas emissions. Check the Yellow Pages in your province to find a supplier near you.

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