Conserving energy and protecting our environment are not things that can be left to the government or everyone else to do for you. We can all make a contribution by following the simple suggestions outlined in this article, adapted from the Orange County Climate Change Summit.
1. Stop Delivery of Unwanted Telephone Directories
Yellowpagesgoesgreen.com is helping municipalities and local governments around the country establish ordinances to mandate Yellow Pages and White Pages only be delivered to home and offices that ask for them. Municipalities and local government that provide trash services are extremely concerned about the landfill cost and why they have to absorb the cost of handling the telephone directories.
2. Switch to Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs)
These bulbs can be a huge energy saver. Replace some (or all) of your incandescent bulbs with fluorescents and enjoy reductions in heat production, energy use, and electric bills!
Savings: Changing 5 of the most frequently used light bulbs in your home can save you $100 per year on electric bills.
When you are at home, keep the thermostat at 78º F or higher in the summer and 62º F or lower in the winter. Programmable thermostats allow you to program the systems to reduce output when it is not needed (e.g. when no one is home during the day, or in the evening when everyone is sleeping).
Savings: Reduce your energy bill by $100 per year or more!
Common leaks occur around windows, doors, and other wall penetrations. Plugging those leaks with weather stripping and caulk can be a simple task for anyone!
Savings: Reduce your energy bill by $100 per year or more!
Up Your Heating and Cooling (HVAC) System
Have a checkup for your system every 2 years to make sure it is running efficiently. Be sure to clean the filter monthly during times of peak usage; a dirty filter can significantly reduce the efficiency of your HVAC.
Savings: Reduce your energy bill by $100 per year or more.
ENERGY STAR® Appliances
ENERGY STAR® qualified products meet a high level of energy efficiency, which can translate into savings on electric bills. When considering the price of a new appliance, take into account not only the purchase price, but also the long-term savings associated with an energy-efficient appliance.
Saving: Reduce your energy bill by $50 per appliance per year or more!
Indoor: Use less water by adding aerators (available for a few dollars at your local home supply store) to your sink faucets and changing to low-flow showerheads.
Outdoor: Incorporate native plants in your landscape plan and minimize high maintenance landscaping such as turf grass to conserve water, while still maintaining a beautiful lawn.
Savings: Reduce your water bill by as much as $100 per year!
to Green Power
Green Power is an optional utility service for customers who want to expand the production and distribution of renewable energy technologies. With green power, you do not have to change your electricity provider. Instead, customers choose to pay a premium on their electricity bill to cover the extra cost of purchasing clean, sustainable energy. More info on green power can be found at: eere.energy.gov/greenpower/markets/index.shtml
Buying local produce reduces the amount of fossil fuels required for the transportation from other parts of the country or the world. It also reduces the amount of plastic and paper products consumed in the packaging of such products. Buying local reduces consumption of valuable resources.
Improve your indoor air quality by switching to products that don’t give off “volatile organic compounds” (VOCs) including: Paint: A low-VOC paint is available from most major paint brands. Cleaning Products: Low-
VOC cleaning alternatives are available for sale, or you can make your own VOC-free cleaning products using simple household materials like baking soda, vinegar and borax.
Use Wood Alternatives or FSC-certified Wood Products
The type of flooring and cabinetry materials you use can have a positive effect on your health and pocketbook while reducing your environmental impacts. Consider using environmentally preferable and rapidly renewable products such as linoleum, bamboo, recycled content tile or non-VOC carpet. Choose wood products from sustainable managed forests, such as those certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Use locally sourced products when possible to reduce carbon emissions associated with the transportation of those products.
Use Rapidly Renewable Flooring Materials
Now there are affordable, durable, and rich-looking flooring options made from grasses and trees that mature in roughly half of the time (or less!) than it takes hardwoods to reach market size. Bamboo, cork, and
eucalyptus flooring products are a sustainable alternative to traditional hardwoods.
Plant Trees to Provide Shade and Wind Protection for Your House
This simple step can help you save money on heating and air conditioning bills while providing beautiful views around your home.
Use Native Plantings
Native plants have been growing and evolving in your area for thousands of years and as a result, have adapted to local soils and climate. They are more likely to thrive with minimal care, unlike exotic plants. That can mean less need for water, fertilizer and pesticides. Additional info on green landscaping techniques can be found at: floridayards.org, epa.gov/reg3esd1/garden or FloridaWaterStar.com
Use Nontoxic Gardening Techniques
Many gardeners over-apply or improperly apply pesticides, putting themselves, their families and pets at increased health risk. Our clean air and drinking water are affected by pesticides and garden equipment emissions.
Carpool, Use Public Transportation, Walk or Bike When Possible
Green transportation means can greatly reduce your energy expenditures and carbon emissions from your daily routine. When you do drive, reduce emissions and save money by not idling.
Buy a High-efficiency Car
See the US Department of Energy’s list of most fuel-efficient cars at fueleconomy.gov/feg/bestworst.shtml
Orange Act Green! A Green Orange County
Orange County Environmental Protection Division