Easy Inexpensive Personal Changes
• Use less paper and use recycled paper.
• Think before you print!
• Use cloth towels instead of paper towels.
• Use reusable bags for grocery shopping.
• Don’t buy water in plastic bottles.
• Bring your own mug for your coffee.
• Paper cups are usually not 100% recycled.
• Recycle. Recycling saves energy and natural resources. Take advantage of every opportunity to recycle you can.
• Cut back on plastics. Plastics are made from petroleum.
Easy Home Updates
• Lower your thermostat in winter, reduce air conditioning use in summer. Heating represents about 41% of the energy used in a home. Lowering your thermostat in the winter not only saves you money but cuts the use of energy.
• Lower the temperature in your hot water heater. Dropping your hot water temperature to 120 degrees saves money, energy and enhances safety for both children and the elderly.
• Replace your lights with Energy Star approved models. Lighting typically uses 15% of the energy used in a home. While Energy Star lamps are more expensive than incandescent lamps, the Energy Star lamps often last significantly longer while also using 75% less energy and generating 75% less heat.
• Plug electronics into power strips and turn off the power strips when not in use. Most modern televisions, DVD players, game consoles and computers still draw a small amount of power when turned off. Removing power with a power strip switch really disconnects them from the power grid saving energy and money.
• Keep the lint filter in your dryer clean. The harder your dryer has to work to push air through the filter, the more energy you use.
• Fill the gaps in doors and windows. Weatherproofing doors and windows doesn’t require special skills or tools. Foam weatherstrip, available at any hardware store, can be applied to a door or window frame to make a better seal and keep drafts out. Your home feels warmer and uses less energy to heat.
• Clean under and behind your fridge to maintain air flow.
More Complex Home Updates
• Lower the flow. Install low flow faucets, shower heads and toilets where possible. Some water departments provide low flow showerheads for free!
• Insulate your hot water heater. Insulating your hot water heater lowers the energy required to keep your water hot.
• Insulate hot water pipes. Insulating hot water pipes keeps water in the pipes warm. You get hot water faster when you turn on the tap and you don’t lose the energy used to heat water that is in the pipes.
• CoUpgrade your thermostat. Programmable thermostats automatically adjust the temperature in your house so you can wake up to a warm house and come home from work to a warm house without wasting energy keeping the house warm all day and night.
• Use push or electric lawn mowers and electric garden tools. According to the EPA, gas lawn mowers represent 5% of all U.S. air pollution! Electric garden tools emit zero carbon directly and the indirect carbon from electricity generation is significantly lower than a small gasoline engine. A push mower not only keeps you in shape, it is a zero carbon device!
• When buying new appliance, buy Energy Star appliances. Energy Star appliances use less energy.
• Use ceiling fans instead of air conditioning. Ceiling fans can have a big impact on the feel of your house or apartment but use a fraction of the energy of air conditioning.
• Collect rainwater to water your garden
• Insulate your house. Walls can use blow in insulation, attic and crawlspaces use fiberglass. Insulating can create dramatic savings in energy use and carbon footprint. Some utilities offer low interest loans for insulation.
• If you are replacing your hot water heater, investigate tankless hot water heaters. Tankless hot water heaters heat water instantly and save energy.
Easy Inexpensive Transportation Changes
• Use public transportation wherever possible. Driving a Toyota Camry 10,000 miles creates 2.67 metric tons of CO2. Riding a bus or subway on its regular route doesn’t impact its CO2 output.
• Drive sensibly and maintain tire pressure. You can save on fuel and greenhouse gases by sticking to the speed limit, accelerating with traffic and ensuring your tires are inflated properly. The US Department of Energy says that for each 1-pound per square inch (PSI) drop in pressure, gas mileage drops .4%.
• Combine trips, drive less. Think ahead about where you need to go and plan one trip with multiple stops to lower your driving.
More Expensive Transportation Changes
• Choose your next car carefully. HyBrids and plug in electric cars cost more to buy and significantly less to operate. Not only is electricity significantly less expensive than gas, the maintenance costs are lower as well. Hybrid and electric cars are especially good if your commute is in stop and go conditions. No idling engine means no wasted emissions.
Plastic Bag Bans
Plastic bag bans are spreading:
As of January 1, 2014, plastic bags have been banned in large grocery stores in Los Angeles. Nearly 90 cities and counties in the state — including unincorporated Los Angeles County — have passed similar legislation. Attempts to pass a bag ban at the state level have failed after lobbying by bag manufacturers, who claim that the pollution impacts have been overblown and that jobs would be lost.
All four of the populated counties in Hawaii have passed legislation banning plastic bags at checkout counters, making it the first state in the country to pass such a ban. (There is a fifth county, Kalawao County, in Hawaii, but it is very remote and barely populated.) On the Big Island, where consumers have been paying for plastic bags at checkout lines for the past year, the ban officially begins on Jan. 17 at grocery stores, restaurants and retailers. Consumers can opt for paper bags or bring their own, reusable bags. Plastic bags will still be available for bulk items such as nuts, fish, meat, grains, and fresh produce. The islands of Kauai and Maui already enforce such a ban, with the most populated island, Oahu, set to join them in July of 2015.
Many towns in Massachusetts have also banned plastic bags. They include: Brookline, Great Barrington, Manchester by the Sea, and Nantucket