WASTE NOT, WANT NOT
Practical Suggestions for Cutting Energy Use
- Install a timer on your electric hot water heater so it runs just a couple of hours a day. Turn down the temperature; there's no need for water to be hot enough to burn yourself.
- Instead of running an air conditioner, install a window fan and run it on reverse at night so you pull in the cool night air. Close the curtains during hot, sunny days to keep the cool air in and heat out.
- Plant deciduous trees on East and West sides of your house so they will shade in summer and let the winter sun in. Plant coniferous trees on North side to keep out winter winds. Put awnings on South windows in summer; remove them in colder weather to let the sun in.
- Instead of a gas or electric clothes dryer, install a clothesline and use it. Virtually everything can be washed in your machine in cold water, including woolens, silks, and clothing labeled "dry clean only." (Not furs, of course, or some leathers.)
Fewer trips to the dry cleaners will lessen your exposure to the poisonous chemical perchlorethylene, which is extremely persistent in the environment and in our bodies.
Hang wet clothes inside in winter to add healthy humidity to your dry house; use a wooden dryer available at hardware stores.
- Keep your TV, computer, music systems - any appliances that automatically go on standby when you turn them off - on surge protectors. When these appliances are not in use, flip their surge protectors off, which turns them fully off so they stop using electricity.
- 6. A reminder: turn lights out when you leave a room.
- Place refrigerator and freezer away from heat sources so they won't have to run their motors as long. Freezer can go in garage or cellar.
- Eat fresh fruits and vegetables raw (after washing) whenever possible; this is healthier and saves energy, too.
- Turn your thermostat down - 60 degrees is warm enough in winter if you wear wool sweaters and socks and long underwear. Turn it down to 50 degrees at night when you're sleeping. You'll sleep better; cooler is also healthier. Use a small space heater to keep warm while sitting at a desk instead of heating up the whole house.
- Dress for winter at work, too, including warm stockings, instead of wearing lightweight summer clothes as some do. Turn the heat down there, too, for health and energy savings.
- Combine car trips to save travel. Your next vehicle should get over 30 mpg. Nancy Oden's plain, inexpensive Hyandai gets 43 mpg. Try to organize a carpool to and from work.
- Use toaster oven for small dishes, or cook several dishes at once in the larger oven. Your next stove should be propane/natural gas with electric ignition so there's no pilot.
- Mowing a lawn with a gasoline-driven machine for 1/2 hour creates pollution equal to driving a car for 60 miles, as well as being noisy and dangerous.
Large, open swaths of grass require significant upkeep. Many people use fertilizers and pesticides, which get into our drinking water and kill the natural flora and fauna of the land, as well as harming children and domestic animals who play on the grasses.
There are options:
- downsize the grass patch and use a hand push mower to keep the grass cut, which provides a nice physical workout;
- stop mowing altogether and allow the green swath to grow on its own, which will include a diversity of interesting plants. Use a hand clipper or hand push mower to keep paths open. This creates living space and food (grass seeds and insects) for many birds whose habitats have been destroyed;
- instead of grasses, plant a ground cover which is hardy and stays low so it doesn't need feeding or mowing;
- plant an organic, diverse vegetable and flower garden, along with fruit and nut trees, instead of a lawn, thereby providing food, shade, and beauty;
- learn the uses of plants that grow by themselves on your piece of Earth, for example, dandelions are beautiful and their young leaves and flowers are an excellent and healthy addition to salads, St. John's Wort is a calming herb, chickweed is full of Vitamin C and tastes good in salads, and so on.
- Shop at re-sale stores where beautiful, albeit slightly used, clothing, books, jewelry, tools, handbags, scarves, shoes, and much more can be found. These used goods are quite inexpensive, and buying them saves the energy costs of producing and shipping them from around the world;
- Save stuff. Don't throw away good things; give them to charity or re-sale shops. Remember the old adage: Use it Up, Wear it Out, Make it Do, Or Do Without.
- Help Elect People Who Care About the Earth and its Creatures.