Green Tips

 
Municipal Buildings
  • Replace incandescent lights with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) for desk lamps and overhead lighting. Using CFLs instead of comparable incandescent bulbs can save about 50 percent on your lighting costs. CFLs use only one-fourth the energy and last up to 10 times longer.
  • Switch off all unnecessary lights. Use dimmers, motion sensors, or occupancy sensors to automatically turn off lighting when not in use to reduce energy use and costs.
  • Remember to turn off lights when you leave at night.
  • Use natural lighting or daylighting. When feasible, turn off the lights that are near windows.
  • Use task lighting. Instead of brightly lighting an entire room, focus the light where you need it, to directly illuminate work areas.
  • Lower hot water temperature. Unless you are washing clothes or dishes, cooler water - about 120 degrees Fahrenheit - will do the job.
  • Remember to use energy efficient ENERGY STAR® products whenever possible. ENERGY STAR as a voluntary labeling program designed to identify and promote energy-efficient products to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Close or adjust window blinds to block direct sunlight to reduce cooling needs during warm months. Overhangs or exterior window covers are most effective to block sunlight on south-facing windows.
  • In the winter months, open blinds on south-facing windows during the day to allow sunlight to naturally heat your workspace. At night, close the blinds to reduce heat loss at night.
  • Turn off your computer and monitors at the end of the workday whenever possible. If you leave your desk for an extended time, turn off your monitor. Unplug equipment that drains energy when not in use (i.e. cell phone chargers, fans, coffeemakers, desktop printers, radios, etc.). In particularly inefficient appliances, standby power use can be as high as 20 watts, according to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. "For a single appliance, this may not seem like much," the laboratory's Web site says, "but when we add up the power use of the billions of appliances in the U.S., the power consumption of appliances that are not being used is substantial."
  • Have a qualified professional perform an energy audit. Check with your utility company for names of auditors.
  • Clean or change furnace filters once a month during the heating season.
  • Insulate water heater hot water piping and tanks to reduce heat loss.
  • Ensure HVAC ductwork is well insulated.
  • Turn off heat and air conditioning at night, on weekends or other times your business is closed. (With many systems, it's cheaper to heat or recool at the start of each business day.)
  • Install low-flow toilets and showerheads.
  • To save gas: Drive the speed limit, accelerate and decelerate slower, and make sure tires are pumped up.
  • Evaluate your utility bills. Separate electricity and fuel bills. Target the largest energy consumer or the largest bill for energy conservation measures.
  • Use coffee mugs instead of disposable cups.
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Lighting
  • Use today's energy efficient bulbs. They come in many sizes and styles. Switch to fluorescent lights where you can. They produce four times the light per watt as ordinary bulbs and, even though fluorescent tubes cost more than incandescent bulbs, they last longer. Fluorescent bulbs can take more energy to turn on when you first flip the switch, but the energy savings outweigh the initial extra energy use -- especially when used in areas where lights are on for many hours per day.
  • Use low wattage light bulbs in halls and other places where no close-up tasks occur.
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Appliances
  • Unplug equipment not in use. Electric chargers, televisions and audio/video equipment use electricity and produce heat even when they are not in use. Running an older refrigerator can use up to three times the energy of a modern one. Unplug any appliance when it's not in use.
  • Set your clothes washer to the warm or cold-water setting, not hot.
  • Dry loads of clothing back to back, using the leftover heat. This reduces overall drying time and lowers energy costs.
  • Turn your refrigerator down. Refrigerators account for about 20 percent of household electricity use. Use a thermometer to set your refrigerator temperature as close to 37 degrees and your freezer as close to 3 degrees as possible. Make sure that its energy saver switch is turned on.
  • Wipe any moisture off containers before putting them in the refrigerator, and keep foods in the refrigerator covered. Moisture will otherwise build up rapidly and you'll use more energy to remove it.
  • Don't open the oven door to check on food any more than necessary. Twenty-five percent of the heat escapes each time you do. Turn off the oven about 15 to 20 minutes before the end of the cooking time. The leftover heat will finish the job.
  • Studies show electric dishwashers use less hot water than washing and rinsing dishes by hand. When you purchase a dishwasher, look for one with a short or light cycle. They require fewer fills and less hot water. Some dishwashers use up to 40 percent less hot water per load, and others allow you to reduce the temperature settings on your water heater. Make sure your dishwasher is full when you run it.
  • Keep pots and pans covered and use the right size pot or pan for the size of your stove's burner. Use properly fitted lids to hold the heat in.
  • Don't place your refrigerator next to your stove or other sources of heat. And allow adequate wall and cabinet clearance. Giving a refrigerator or freezer "room to breathe" will let it operate more efficiently and prevent premature burnout.
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Heating and Cooling
  • Be careful not to overheat or overcool rooms. In the winter, set your thermostat at 68 degrees in daytime, and 55 degrees at night. In the summer, keep it at 78.
  • Clean or replace air filters as recommended. Energy is lost when air conditioners and hot-air furnaces have to work harder to draw air through dirty filters.
  • Keep your fireplace damper closed when there's no fire in the fireplace. If you have glass fireplace doors, keep them closed as well.
  • Keep shades closed when the air conditioner is on. Sunny windows account for 40 percent of unwanted heat and can make your air conditioner work two to three times harder.
  • Insulate your walls and ceilings. This can save 20 to 30 percent of home heating bills.
  • Keep radiators or vents clear of furniture or drapes. If the vent is located inconveniently, install a deflector and direct the hot or cold air right where you want it. They're inexpensive and easy to install.
  • Cover bare ground beneath your home with a vapor barrier to keep moisture from getting into your home. Polyethylene sheets work well. Since a third of your air conditioner's energy is spent removing moisture, vapor barriers can make a noticeable dent in your energy bills.
  • Keep out winter air by covering your window air conditioners tightly on the inside with thick plastic or special air conditioner covers. Weather-strip around the units to block drafts.
  • Improve efficiency in winter by using ceiling fans set on reverse to re-circulate heat that would otherwise build up near the ceiling.
  • Plant deciduous trees like oak, maple, gum, ash and dogwood. They lose their leaves in the winter, letting the sun through to warm your home. In summer, their leaves shade your home. Plant shade trees to the south, since that side gets the most sun.
  • Evergreens are effective for blocking wind. Plant them in a staggered or double line to the northwest of your home.
  • Weatherize your home or apartment, using caulk and weather stripping to plug air leaks around doors and windows.
  • Improperly designed or installed duct systems can decrease comfort, jeopardize indoor air quality, and increase operating costs. Even small holes or loose seals in ductwork can account for as much as 30 percent in lost energy.
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Heating Water
  • Turn your gas water heater control valve to "pilot" when you're away from home for a week or more.
  • Take showers instead of baths and use cooler water whenever possible.
  • Use less hot water by installing low-flow showerheads.
  • Turn down your water heater thermostat. Thermostats are often set to 140 degrees Fahrenheit when 120 degrees Fahrenheit is usually fine.
  • Select the most energy-efficient models when you replace your old appliances. Look for the Energy Star Label - your assurance that the product saves. Buy the product that is sized to your typical needs - not the biggest one available. Front loading washing machines will usually cut hot water use by 60 to 70 percent compared to typical machines.
  • Wrap your water heater in an insulating jacket, which costs just $10 to $20. It can save 1,100 lbs. of CO2 per year for an electric water heater, or 220 pounds for a gas heater.
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Other Tips for the Home
  • Ask about Energy Efficient Mortgages, known as EEMs. They often allow new homeowners to qualify for a larger mortgage with a lower annual income due to the energy savings expected in homes built to high-energy efficiency standards. Ask your real estate professional or mortgage lender about EEMs.
  • Reduce the amount of waste you produce by buying minimally packaged goods, choosing reusable products over disposable ones, and recycling.
  • Consider a Hybrid. Looking to buy a new car? Consider a hybrid, which runs on a combination of a gasoline engine and electric motor. Hybrids get up to 50 mpg compared with 15-25 mpg for typical vehicles. Even better, walk, bike, carpool or take transit more often. You'll save one pound of CO2 for every mile you don't drive.
  • Kill the Energy "Vampires." TVs, video and DVD players, cable boxes, chargers for phones, laptops, camera, handheld devices and other electronic equipment found in nearly every American home are wasting huge amounts of energy. When these devices are left plugged in or in standby mode (e.g., computer "sleep" mode), they use about 40 percent of their full running power. To avoid the drain of these energy "vampires," plug them into a power strip and turn it off when they are not in use.
  • (Energy) Audit Your House. The greenhouse gas emissions of your house are equivalent to two average automobiles. By making improvements - sometimes as simple as fixing leaks, adding insulation and installing a hot water heater blanket - you can reduce your energy use by 30 to 40 percent, and even cut it in half. Cutting your energy consumption by even 25 percent is the equivalent of taking a car off the road for six months each year, keeping three to four tons of CO2 out of the atmosphere.
  • Buy Local. Eat Fresh! Farmers' markets make it easy for you to buy produce from local farmers. Produce that is grown and sold locally avoids energy used to transport items from great distances. Many local farmers also use organic growing methods.
  • Put the Pressure On. Keep your tires inflated properly. Under-inflated tires are energy drainers. This simple action can save 400-700 pounds of CO2 per year. Changing auto air filters regularly also increases fuel efficiency. Accelerate slowly (don't lead foot it) and drive the speed limit. Better yet, ditch the car and walk, bike or take transit. Every gallon of gasoline you don't use keeps 20 pounds of CO2 out of the atmosphere.
  • Get an Electric Lawnmower. Surrender your gasoline lawnmower, which is among the dirtiest of modern machines. Using your gasoline-powered mower for one hour emits the same amount of pollution as driving a car 93 miles. Gas mowers emit a disproportionate amount of CO2, as well as carcinogens such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Replace your gasoline lawnmower with an electric model or, better yet, a manual mower. You'll build strength and reduce emissions.
  • Plant a Tree. In the fall, gather acorns, chestnuts and seeds from maples and other leafy trees and plant them in small pots at home. Keep the saplings for four-five years, then plant them in your own garden, offer them to friends as gifts, or return them to nature. Experiment with different types of seeds. A single tree will absorb one ton of CO2 over its lifetime.
  • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. The manufacturing process produces an average four-eight pounds of CO2 for every pound of manufactured product. You'll save 2,400 pounds of CO2 per year by recycling half of your household waste. Avoid plastic bags; take sturdy tote bags to the grocery store. Reuse plastic grocery bags as trash can liners and tote bags. Reuse take-out containers for plant saucers. Take a travel mug to your favorite coffee shop. Reuse gift-wrap or use reusable gift bags.
  • Hang it Up. Clothes dryers are energy gluttons. To reduce energy use, clean the lint filter after each load (improves air circulation and speeds drying). Use the cool-down cycle, which uses residual heat to complete the drying process. Better yet, abandon your dryer (or use it less often) by hanging up your clothes. Apartment and condo dwellers can buy a drying rack that fits into the bathtub or folds up into the wall. Reduces CO2 emissions, and your clothes will last longer.
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Green Tips
Keep radiators or vents clear of furniture or drapes. If the vent is located inconveniently, install a deflector and direct the hot or cold air right where you want it. They're inexpensive and easy to install.

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