5 Ways to Help the Environment

 

Fill the dishwasher.

 

 

Did you know: Running the dishwasher only when full can save 100 pounds of carbon dioxide and $40 per year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Make sure whoever is on dish duty knows that the load shouldn’t be run until it’s full. If you have a newer appliance, skip rinsing before loading—you’ll save even more water.

 

 

Switch to cold.

 

 

Did you know: Doing the laundry in cold water for one year can save enough energy to drive a car up to 421 miles. There are detergents specifically formulated to work effectively in cold water that provide the same stain-removal and color-protection power as a regular detergent. Make the switch to cold, and start saving energy.

 

 

Unplug.

 

 

Did you know: You can charge your smartphone for a lifetime with the energy you save by switching to cold washing for one year. When your phone and other devices aren’t in use, unplug ’em! Store chargers in a basket or drawers to reduce clutter around the house. Use a drawer organizer or segmented basket to keep cords coiled and organized.

 

Bike to work.

 

 

Did you know: Switching your commute—even just a few days—from individual car trips to mass transit or biking can save a lot of energy. In fact, you save the same energy by biking to work for up to five days as you would by using cold water for laundry for a whole year. If you live in a city with a bike share program or are close enough to your office to make the commute, try it out! 

 

 

Turn off the tap.

 

 

Did you know: Leaving the tap running while brushing your teeth can waste up to eight gallons of water per day, according to the EPA. A little run of the tap here, a little run of the tap there, can add up to a lot of water loss. Save H2O by stopping the faucet when you’re not wetting or rinsing your brush, rinsing your hands, or washing suds off a dish. Like cold drinking water? Keep a pitcher of water in the refrigerator at all times so you don’t have to run water from the faucet until it’s cold.

 

Merry and Bright—and Energy Efficient

 

 

Turn down the heat and turn up the revelry

 

More bodies mean more natural warmth, so turn down that thermostat when you have guests! Also, make sure you seal and insulate your home’s air ducts, as the process can improve your system’s heating and cooling efficiency by 20%.

 

 

Wash clothes in cold water:

 

Family + parties + overnight guests = a whole lot of laundry. While you may not be able to spare the chore of handling those extra loads, you can spare yourself the high-energy bill. When you switch loads from your normal warm water wash to cold water, you will use as much as 80% less energy if you use a standard top loading machine. Just make sure you use a detergent designed specifically for washing in lower temperatures. 

 

 

Use low-watt or energy-efficient LED lights:

 

Light-emitting diode, or LED, lighting uses as much as 75% less energy than incandescent lighting and lasts 35 to 50 times longer. While a strand of LED bulbs may be a bit more expensive than regular bulbs, you’ll end up saving energy and money in the long run.

 

 

No peeking!

 

Resist the urge to open the oven door for a quick look at that juicy turkey or holiday ham and turn the oven light on for a glance instead. Opening the door for even a few seconds can lower oven temperature by as much as 25 degrees—increasing cooking time and wasting energy. 

 

 

Save water while cleaning up.

 

Washing dishes by hand can actually use more water than a dishwasher would. However, if you fill up wash-and-rinse basins instead of letting water run, you’ll use half as much water as a dishwasher. If you do use the machine, make sure you wash only full loads, and pre-rinse plates with cold water, not hot.

 

Reduce, Recycle & Reuse This Holiday Season

There’s something in the air during the holiday season—something that encourages giving and selflessness…and unfortunately a whole lot of waste. From Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, American household waste goes up by about 1 million tons a week! Not to mention that twinkling lights, music and delicious meals—hallmarks of the festive season—can really rack up an energy bill. Here are a few ways you can reduce the waste, save energy and go green without becoming a Grinch over the holidays.

Use LED Christmas lights:

Light-emitting diode, or LED, lighting uses as much as 75% less energy than incandescent lighting and lasts 35 to 50 times longer. While a strand of festive LED bulbs is going to be a little more expensive than a traditional garland of incandescent bulbs, you’ll end up saving overall during the season—ensuring that yours is the happiest and brightest house on the block.

Wash with cold water:

The holidays create a lot of laundry, from all that festive party-wear to the tablecloths you feast on and the extra linens for your overnight guests. While you may not be able to spare the chore of handling those extra loads, you can spare yourself the high-energy bill. When you switch loads from your normal warm water wash to cold water, you will use as much as 80% less energy if you use a standard top loading machine. Turn that dial to cold, and make sure you use a detergent designed specifically for washing in lower temperatures.

Turn down the heat:

…when you turn up the cheer! Your famous holiday parties are always well attended, of course, which means there are quite a few more bodies naturally warming up your home! So turn down the thermostat even if it ends up being a White Christmas. Although it’s snowing outside, you enjoy the savings of a greener holiday. Also, sealing and insulating your home’s air ducts can improve heating and cooling efficiency by 20%.

No peeking!

Resist the urge to open the oven door for a quick look at that juicy turkey roasting, that holiday ham sizzling, or that sweet-smelling pie baking before it’s ready. Opening the door even for a few seconds can lower oven temperatures by as much as 25 degrees—which increases cooking time and wastes energy. Save your energy for enjoying the feast! If you can’t resist the urge to see how the cooking is going, turn on the oven light for a few seconds for a view through the glass.

Wrap and rewrap.

Annual trash from gift-wrap and shopping bags in the U.S. amounts to 4 million tons of waste! When it comes to holiday gifts, it’s the thought that counts, right? Use leftover newspaper or magazine pages to wrap presents, or swaddle them in brightly colored seasonal fabrics that can also be part of the gift (make it extra special by pre-washing to add an irresistible scent!). And there’s no harm in reusing holiday ribbon either. If every family reused just two feet of ribbon over the holidays, that recycled ribbon would be long enough to tie a bow around the entire planet!

Drive less.

It’s tough to avoid driving altogether during the season, but you and your family can cut back on the mileage by carpooling to holiday gatherings, using public transportation or even taking a nice winter stroll if possible. If every family drove 20 fewer miles over the holidays (saving about 1 gallon of gasoline), greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced by one million tons.

Recycle your Christmas tree.

It’s always hard to take down the tree after the holidays are over, but knowing that you are helping to save the planet in the process can lift your spirits. Thirty million of the 50 million Christmas trees that are purchased in the U.S. every year go to the landfill. Check with your town or city to see how you can recycle your tree. And instead of vacuuming up those fallen pine needles on your floor, collect them to add to a festive potpourri medley that will keep the smells of the season lingering in your home.