10 Ways to Trim Your Waste
January represents a fresh start, a new beginning, a whole new year ahead. It’s a time when lots of people think about personal growth (education, adventure, creativity)—or reduction (exercise and diet). This year, try some impersonal reduction and create better energy habits. Saving energy may not build your character or change your clothing size, but it will save you some money and make a big difference for the environment. So, in honor of 2011—the start not only of a new year, but also a new decade—here are TopTen USA’s top 10 resolutions.
- Get a power monitor. This small investment will give you a sense of how much power your home actually uses and which products are the biggest energy drains. In this case, knowledge is power… and it saves power.
- Be a turn-off. Don’t leave electronics and appliances running when they’re not in use. Leaving that computer on after a bedtime email check? Stop it! And turn the monitor off, too.
- Be a power stripper. No, really. Connect your electronics to power strips with on/off switches, and flip the switch when the products aren’t in use instead of wasting energy on standby mode. Make it easy on yourself and put the power strip where you can reach it. If flipping the switch involves crawling behind your desk, this is going to be a hard resolution to stick to.
- Accept your products’ intelligence. Newer electronics and appliances are great at self-regulating. Explore your computer’s power management settings, the programmability of your heating or air conditioning systems, and the energy- and water-saving settings on your dishwasher and clothes washer. When it comes to saving energy, your household products may know more than you do. But don’t worry; they won’t tell anyone.
- Beware of overcharging. We all seem to have about a million chargers lying around. Mobile phone chargers, camera chargers, MP3 player chargers, etc. Instead of leaving them in the outlet in 24/7, plug them in only when they’re needed. These little energy frenemies use power whenever they’re plugged in, regardless of whether they’re charging batteries or not.
- Stop living in the dark ages. Between dimmable compact fluorescents and affordable LEDs, lightbulbs have come a long way, my friend, and I see you over there, hoarding those incandescent bulbs. Quit dragging your heels. Buy the lightbulbs you wish to see in the world.
- Let your laundry chill. Most loads do just fine washed in cold water. In fact, many do better, since cold water doesn’t set stains and is gentler on colored dyes. And yes, you guessed it: A cold water wash uses significantly less energy than a hot water one.
- Give your dishes some air. Your plates, glasses, and silverware are content to keep doing their jobs even without a daily hour at the sauna that is your dishwasher’s heat dry setting. Do them and your wallet a favor by opening the dishwasher door and letting them air dry overnight.
- Stop the leaks. Drafts are leaks that even Julian Assange wouldn’t defend. Whether it’s the seal on your refrigerator door or the gaps around your windows, catch the culprits, and bring them to justice! Or at least fix them, so they stop doing that.
- Consult TopTen USA’s lists. It’s a fact of modern life that sooner or later, each of your appliances and electronics will need to be replaced. In 2011, when your refrigerator goes on the fritz, or your ancient dishwasher starts plastering all your plates with broccoli, or you simply can’t stand that boxy old TV another minute, please don’t forget to make energy efficiency a factor in your new purchase. A quick stop on www.TopTenUSA.org will give you all the information you need to make an informed and energy-conscious decision. You’ll lower your bills and your impact on the planet, and that’s a New Year’s resolution we can all be proud of keeping.