April 22, 2013 Earth Day Atlanta: Lifestyle tweaks help planet, save money
It’s simple to save cash when you know where to look and know what to do.
This Earth week and every day consider that by changing just a few habits you and your family can save money and make a big difference by helping our environment.
The first step is to calculate how much energy you use at home, traveling and at work. We call this calculating your http://carbonfund.org”>carbon footprint. Once you determine how much you and your family 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 not 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, American’s drink more than 100 billion cups of coffee. Approximately 14.4 billion disposable paper cups are thrown away – that’s enough cups, when placed end to end, to wrap around the Earth 55 times. Instead, get yourself a stainless steel mug and most coffee vendors offer customers a 10-cent discount. At five cups a week that’s a savings of $26 a year.
Take the proceeds of your coffee savings, buy six organic cotton bags, and re-use them instead of the disposable plastic, single-use supermarket bags. Make it habit to return those cotton bags to the trunk of your car after unpacking your groceries.
Atlantans already pay 108 percent more than New Yorkers for water and the rates will continue to rise. Toilets consume an average of 20.1 gallons of water per person, per day in a home with no water conserving fixtures. That’s almost 30 percent of the average home’s, per person, indoor water use. Consider installing low flow toilets and showerheads and conserve one person’s annual water use from 27,300 gallons to 12,500 gallons. You’ll notice an immediate savings on your monthly water bill.
Turn off the taps when you brush your teeth and only run the dishwasher when it’s completely full on the economy setting and save another $72 a year.
All cars and trucks must have their tires inflated to the correct manufactures suggested tire pressure. In doing so, you will increase your miles per gallon by at least four percent and save 10-cents a gallon on gasoline. Also, make sure that your trunk is kept empty – extra weight reduces fuel efficiency.
Forty percent of all car trips in America are less than two miles. Ride a bicycle or walk that distance and get exercise instead of spending fuel. By reducing just one third of those less than two-mile car trips, at the end of the year you will have saved $215.
The average home emits about twice as much CO2 compared to the average car. An energy audit will save you as much as 30 percent on your yearly bills, and Georgia Power offers a free walk-through to help you save a bundle of money.
Roughly half of our home’s energy expense comes from heating and cooling – that means furnaces and air conditioning units must be services bi-annually and air filters changed at least twice a year.
By setting your winter thermostat to 68 and your summer thermostat to 78 you’ll save $225 a year. Also, put your clothes, after washing them in cold water only, out to air-dry and you’ll save an additional $225 annually.
Use a smart power strip and plug-in as many electronic devices that have a stand-by mode in your home, turn off the power bar and you’ll reduce your power bill by a further 5 to 15 percent, translating into another $97 savings a year. Phantom electricity drawn from devices on stand-by mode across America wastes $4 billion of electricity a year.
Remember to turn off all lights when you leave a room, shutdown computers and printers when not in use and unplug all cellular phone, laptop, camera, mp3 players and toothbrush adapters’ – save $105 a year.
This spring help our beleaguered honey, bumble and solitary bees by not using any insecticides, herbicides, miticides or fungicides in your yard. In addition, plant yellow and blue flowers in large blocks, so as to provide a safe source of nectar and pollen for our bees.
Lastly, plant a tree for every member of your family. Trees reduce heating and cooling costs around homes and buildings by as much as 40 percent. They also suck CO2 from the atmosphere, filter storm water run-off, purify the air and provide habitat for many urban critters including bees.
Text © by Dr Reese Halter 2013. All rights reserved.
Tags: Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Australian Conservation Foundation, Avaaz, Conservation International, Dr Reese Halter, Ducks Unlimited, ellen degeneres, Environmental Defense Fund, Green Peace, Grist, honeybees, Jacque Cousteau, John Denver, leonardo dicaprio, London Olympics, Los Angeles, MSNBC, Muir Woods National Monument, National Audubon Society, National Geographic, Natural Resources Defense Council, Nature Conservancy, Oprah, Peta, Riverkeepers, Sea Shepherds, Sierra Club, Steve Irwin, Ted Danson, Treehugger, world wildlife Fund, Yellowstone National Park, Yosemite National Park