Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Eight Easy Earth Day Tips

It’s almost Earth Day, and you know what that means– it’s time to think about what you can do for the environment. But there’s good news. You don’t have to spend a fortune to start saving energy. Here are a few easy things you can do yourself that can help you go green and save money at the same time.

1. Change your air conditioner’s filters regularly. Check your filters to verify how often they need to be changed – four, nine, 12 months – and make sure to clean reusable filters approximately once a month to maximize your air conditioner’s efficiency and reduce the amount of energy you need to keep your home cool.

2. Get a programmable thermostat. You can set it to run your air conditioner and heater less when you’re away from home, but have it re-adjust your home’s temperature shortly before you return home so you still get maximum comfort with minimal hassle.

3. Unplug your electronics when you’re not using them. This is especially true for items like cell phone chargers, MP3 players and tablet PCs. Electronics still draw energy from the wall as long as they’re plugged in, even when they’re not turned on, so unplug and stop these energy vampires from sucking your wallet dry.

4. Use your computer’s power saving features, like setting your computer and/or monitor to go into sleep mode after a certain amount of time. A computer in sleep mode can use up to 70 percent less energy than a computer not using energy saving features.

5. Set ceiling fans to spin the right direction for the season. During the summer, set your fan counter clockwise to create circulation for a cooling effect. For winter, set your fan clockwise to pull hot air near the ceiling into the living spaces in your home. That way you can use less energy running heaters and air conditioners without sacrificing comfort.

6. Use your blinds to help with climate control. In the summer, keep your east-facing blinds closed in the morning and your west-facing blinds closed in the evening to block radiant heat from the sun and reduce cooling costs. Keep the same blinds open in the winter to let heat in and reduce your heating bills.

7. Wash your clothes in cold water. Washing them on a hot water cycle means your water heater has to work hard and use lots of energy to keep the water hot. A cold water cycle can reduce the amount of energy it takes to wash a load of clothes by as much as 90 percent.

8. Clean your dryer’s lint trap after every use to reduce the amount of time and energy it takes to dry your clothes and, if your dryer has one, use the moisture sensor setting so your dryer doesn’t keep running unnecessarily after your clothes are dry.

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