These days, everyone should know what the term Going Green represents. As a youth in the 60's, I remember the protests of the hippies against the Vietnam war and the lack of concern and care for our planet. Today we have groups like the Sierra Club and Green Peace whose role is to educate the public. The movement has grown to the point of government changes nationally including International summits on the environment. Wow! Who said the youth of our world can't influence the powers that be.
Our governments have introduced rebate incentives to their residents. They agree that we need to preserve and care for our resources: forests, rivers, lakes and oceans, soil and air, oil and gas and even our ozone layer, which neutralizes the harmful radiation from the sun. We've seen rebates on energy saving light bulbs and appliances, as well as government legislation for manufacturers to save energy on products from vehicles to toilets.
US residents can find out what rebates they qualify for at: the Energy Star site.
Canadian residents can go to this link for Canadian government rebates.
Cash Saving Incentives
As people who share the same planet, we don't have to be legislated to care for our resources. Here are some of the things we can do, individually and as a family, that won't cost us a penny:
- When leaving a room, shut off the lights.
- When finished with watching TV or playing games, turn the power off.
- Use the recycle bin for: glass, tin cans, plastics, cardboard, newspapers, engine oil, batteries, tires, electronics and send your clothes to the less fortunate.
- Lower your speed when driving. 55 mph compared to 70 mph saves you up to 50% of your gas bill on the same trip. (Reference: Economy FAQ)
- Use alternate forms of transportation: ride bicycles, walk or use public transit.
- Wash clothes and dishes in warm or cold water, hang up clothes on racks or clotheslines, limiting the use of your dryer.
- Use reusable grocery bags.
- Purchase large packages to save material on containers.
- Use worn out socks for rags to apply stains and old clothes for dusting and cleaning rags and dish cloths.
- Recycle photo film containers and pill bottles for small screws, nails and liquids.
- Collect rain water for watering your livestock, pets and plants.
When the time comes to recycle your appliances and electronics look for the Energy Star sticker for the most energy efficient products. Purchase natural organic compounds instead of chemically produced ones. Choose latex paints rather than oil based. Replace incandescent bulbs with energy saving, cooler burning flourescents. Grow your own vegetables or buy local. Recycle products and reuse recyclable products. Drink filtered water rather than purchasing an abundance of small containers or re-fill your own containers for water, coffee and other fluids.
Maintaining our homes is not an expensive procedure, but good maintenance will save in energy costs. Since about 45% of our utility expense is for heating and/or cooling:
- Choose energy efficient furnaces.
- Turn down the thermostat to reduce heating costs or turn it up to reduce air conditioning costs.
- Change your furnace filters monthly.
- Fill in cracks in foundation walls and seal around plumbing pipes, vents and wires with caulking, tape or insulation.
- Check the weatherstrip for outside doors, a major source of heat loss.
- Close doors and turn down the heat or air conditioning in unused rooms.
- Close dampers and outside air vents for the fireplace when not in use.
- Close curtains at night over windows and patio doors and open them during a sunny day.
- Install shutters on windows to save 50% of window heat loss.
- Choose energy efficient Low E windows.
- Check caulking between windows and siding or stucco.
- Insulate crawlspaces and attics.
When renovating our homes, replace existing products for environmentally friendly ones:
- Replace vinyl with natural cork, bamboo, or hardwood tiles and flooring or with ceramic tiles.
- Use area rugs of natural fibers.
- Reuse recycled wood flooring.
- Install tiles of recycled glass, carpet and other recyclable products.
- Choose paint without toluene or xylene, which are very carcinogenic chemicals. Choose latex or milk paints.
- Choose glues without VOCs (volatile organic compounds) which are gases emitted from some liquids and solids.
And finally, the last tip for going green and one of the easiest to accomplish is to conserve the use of water.
- Use a low flow shower head which saves about 10% of your water heating cost. Limit time in the shower.
- Limit the amount of water used in the tub.
- Use aerators on all faucets to mix air with water to conserve.
- Turn water off while brushing your teeth.
- Men, when shaving put a little water in the sink to rinse off your razor instead of continually running water.
- Fix water leaks in faucets, toilets and appliances as soon as you notice them.
- Purchase low flush toilets for replacements when needed or lower the water level or place a plastic bottle filled with sand or pebbles in the tank to take up water volume.
- Use waterless car washes rather than washing the family vehicle with a water hose.
In order to keep our planet clean and to preserve its resources it takes all of us to work together. It is our responsibility to pass onto our future generations the best environment that we can.
) (About Dave