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Earth Dr Reese Halter's Blog

NATURE'S BLUEPRINT

Jason and Sydney

Article from Gannett’s DESERT MAGAZINE September 2009

You don’t always have to choose between saving the environment and saving your dollars. It’s really possible to be smart, save money and protect the ecology of our Coachella Valley all at the same time. Here’s how:

As a starting point,  figure out how much energy you currently use at home, traveling and at work. We call this calculating your carbon footprint (visit www.ecofoot.org). Once you determine how much you, your family and co-workers are spending, it is simple to begin to cut back.

Reducing is the most important habit that we can all easily change. Reduce what you use by buying quality products. This is both important for retailers and the economy. Quality products cost more but last longer, save you money (from having to buy inferior products again); and quality products reduce the amount of waste we are putting into landfills.

Re-using also makes good sense. Every year, Americans’ drink more than 100 billion cups of coffee. Approximately 15 billion disposable paper cups are thrown away – that’s enough cups, when placed end to end, to wrap around the Earth 56 times! Instead, get yourself a stainless steel mug and most coffee vendors offer customers a twenty-cent discount. At five cups a week that’s a savings of $52 a year.

The average home emits about twice as much CO2 compared to the average car. Edison offers a free energy survey (http://www.sce.com/survey). An energy audit will save you as much as 30 percent on your yearly bills (visit www.eere.energy.gov).

Roughly half of our home energy expenses come from cooling – that means air conditioning units must be serviced bi-annually and air filters changed at least twice a year (visit www.energystar.gov). By setting your summer thermostat to 79 degrees you’ll save $300 a year.

Also, put your clothes, after washing them in cold water only out to air-dry and you’ll save an additional $300 annually.

Use a smart power strip and plug-in as many electronic devices that have stand by mode in your home, turn the power switch off, you’ll reduce your power bill by a further 5 to 15 percent, translating into another $125 savings a year. This phantom electricity in the U.S. alone wastes $4 billion of electricity a year.

Turn off all lights when you leave a room, shut down computers and printers when not in use, and unplug all cell phone, laptop, camera, mp3 and Ipod cradles and toothbrush adapters when not in use – save $125 a year.

When buying a new appliance ensure that they have an Energy Star label (www.energystar.gov/). In 2006, North Americans’ saved enough energy by using Energy Star appliances, and reduced CO2 emissions equivalent to taking 27 million cars off the road or $15 billion on their utility bills.

Consider installing solar heaters or solar panels and take advantage of 30 percent renewable federal tax credit. If you live within the city’s boundaries, there’s also  Palm Desert’s low interest, long-term loans program (http://www.cityofpalmdesert.org/Index.aspx?page=116).

Turn off the tap when you brush your teeth and only use the dishwasher when it’s completely full and save another $72 a year.

Install ultra low flow toilets, aerating showerheads and faucets, and conserve 9,000 gallons of water a yeara savings of $175 on your yearly water bill.

Convert your yard to native desert plants, save water and promote habitat for birds, butterflies, moths and bees.

Go green, have fun, and watch your piggy bank continuously grow while admiring all the wonders of nature that you are helping to save in the Colorado Desert of the Coachella Valley.

Dr Reese Halter is a public speaker, conservation biologist and his latest book is entitled “The Incomparable Honey Bee”, Rocky Mountain Books. He can be contacted through www.DrReese.com

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