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99energy savingideas7jp


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99energy savingideas7jp

  1. 1. EARTH DAY 2013: Time to take actionThis year we’ve made it easy to be GREEN. Check outthese 99 ways to save: • money (thousands of dollar$ per year), • energy (millions of BTUs) • and the planet (we’ve only got one)…for next to nothingEarth Day is all about saving the earth, using a vast variety tips and techniquesthat reduce environmental impact and increase environmental awareness. Butwho says there has to be pain in order to make planet-preserving gains? Ourcollection of 99 earth-friendly activities proves that being green can actually saveyou some green. Try it, you’ll like it: Saving energy, money and the planet --all atthe same time. If you’re skeptical, don’t take our word for it. Many of these tipscome from the Dept. of Energy (DOE), the Environmental Protection Agency(EPA), ENERGY STAR® and DIY experts.DIY scoring • Free & easy: Just do it. • Plan ahead: Think about spending a little extra on a future purchase. • DIY hero: Some tools, time & materials required. Show off your skill while upping your green value. • Go 4 pro. Hire a professional unless you’re a hard-core DIYer.APPLIANCES & ELECTRONICS <14>Fill the freezer. A freezer full of frozen stuff uses less energy than one that’s nearly empty. If youdon’t need that much frozen food, fill the voids with jugs of water. The ice will keep your freezercool during power outages – or can be used in coolers at your next party. BONUS: Stocking upon frozen food also helps you save on auto expenses by eliminating at least a few trips to thesupermarket. DIYscore: Free & easy.Use the microwave more, the oven less. It’s not always possible to cook a meal in themicrowave. But when you do, you’re using less energy than the oven consumes to achieve thesame result. According to ENERGY STAR®, reheating or cooking food in the microwave can be80% more efficient than using the oven. DIYscore: Free & easy.Turn off the coffeemaker. Instead of leaving your coffeemaker on to keep coffee warm, pouryour fresh brew into a thermos. Or save the extra step by buying a model with an integratedinsulated decanter the next time you need a new coffeemaker. You’ll save energy—and yourcoffee will be better tasting, too. DIYscore: Free & easy.Retire that extra refrigerator. Many homeowners keep an old refrigerator running in the garageor basement, unaware that this inefficient, power-hungry appliance could be costing $200 or moreto run every year. Unplug it or purchase a more efficient model. A fridge built before 1993 can use
  2. 2. three times as much energy as new ENERGY STAR® models. Thanks to special refrigeratorrecycling programs in many communities, you may be able to have your old fridge hauled awayfor free. DIYscore: Free & easy.Replace a loose door seal. A refrigerator wastes energy when the flexible gaskets around thedoors don’t seal tightly. To test for a tight seal, shut each fridge door on a dollar bill. If you canpull the bill out easily, the gasket should be replaced. An appliance dealer can order areplacement gasket. DIYscore: DIY hero.Run full dishwasher loads. About 80% of the energy used by your dishwasher goes to heatingwater, and you use the same amount of hot water no matter what size load you have. To saveenergy and money, don’t put your dishwasher to work until you’ve got a full load of dirty dishes.DIYscore: Free & easy.Compute with less energy. Save money by turning off your computer and monitor overnight. Tomake it easier, plug your computer and peripherals into an outlet power strip that you can click offwhen you’re finished for the day. In addition, enable the power management settings on yourcomputer. Doing so puts your computer, monitor, and hard drive in sleep mode after a period ofinactivity you specify. DIYscore: Free & easy.Switch from desktop to laptop. A laptop computer is at least 50% more energy efficient than atypical desktop system; some laptops are 80% more efficient. Consider making a laptop yourprimary computer the next time you buy a computer. DIYscore: Free & easy.Be cool about using the fridge. If your refrigerator has an “energy-saver” setting, be sure to useit. If you have a choice about fridge location, position it away from sources of heat, such asovens, dishwashers, and sunny windows. DIYscore: Free & easy.Keep the coils clean. When the finned metal coils beneath or behind your refrigerator get coatedwith dust, your fridge has to work harder, which wastes energy and costs you money. Use a coilbrush, available online or at home centers, to do the job. DIYscore: DIY hero.Reduce phantom loads. Keeping cell phone chargers, DVD players, printers and otherelectronics in standby mode can add hundreds of dollars to your annual electric bill. Unplug yourelectronics when they’re not in use and start saving! For more details on eliminating phantomloads, check out this guide at The Daily Green: DIYscore: Free & easy.Look for the ENERGY STAR®. Want to help protect the environment? Look for products withthe blue ENERGY STAR label on major appliances, heating and cooling equipment, homeelectronics, and office equipment. These products have met strict energy-efficiency guidelines setby the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy. With a few key EnergyStar appliances, you could cut your energy use by 30%, saving as much as $600 annually—whilealso cutting greenhouse gas emissions. ENERGY STAR’s new “most-efficient” program highlightsultra-efficient appliances that outperform others that meet ENERGY STAR performance criteria.With most-efficient appliances, you’ll save even more money. DIYscore: Plan ahead.Service your sump pump. With “extreme weather events” occurring more frequently, you wantto make sure your sump pump won’t burn out or consume extra power by running longer thannecessary. Annual servicing is the answer. Clean silt and debris from the bottom of the sump pitto reduce clogging potential. Test the float valve by manually lifting the float. Add enough water tothe pit to activate the pump and make sure it evacuates the water. You only have to call in aplumber if there’s a malfunction. DIY score: Go4ProHOME IMPROVEMENTS <22>
  3. 3. Air-seal your attic. The attic is the biggest source of energy-wasting air leaks in most houses.The leaks may be around recessed light fixtures, attic hatchways, ducts, vents and dozens ofother places. Air sealing should always be done before adding new attic insulation. Protect yourknees with knee pads and your lungs with a dust mask. Then follow the instruction in this FamilyHandyman® article: DIY hero.Choose a cool roof. When it’s time to reshingle your roof, select ENERGY STAR® cool roofshingles. Asphalt shingles that use cool roof technology can cut your summertime coolingexpenses by 7% - 15%. These energy-efficient shingles are installed just like standard shingles,and it’s a do-able job for an experienced DIYer as long as the roof isn’t steep (6/12 pitch or less).For good how-to instructions, check out these tips at the DIY network: DIY hero.Seal air leaks around electrical switches and outlets. Electrical boxes can be a significantsource of uncomfortable drafts and energy losses (especially when they’re located in exteriorwalls). Fix the problem by removing the cover plate for each electrical box and caulking the gapbetween the box and the drywall opening. Then install an inexpensive foam gasket under thecover plate before screwing it back in place. You’ll find a good video on this energy-savingtechnique at the Dr. Energy Saver website ( DIY hero.Upgrade attic insulation. Once you’ve completed the attic air sealing mentioned above, it’ssmart to upgrade your attic insulation to levels recommended by the DOE. Good news: There arestill financial incentives to help offset the price of this and other energy-saving improvements. Fordetails, visit the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency ( Go 4 pro.Insulate rim joists. A great deal of air leakage occurs where the wood framing of a house meetsthe masonry foundation. You don’t have to be a pro to insulate and seal the rim joist in abasement or crawl space. Cut rigid foam insulation to fit between joists along the rim or bandjoist; then use spray foam to seal around the edges of the rigid foam. More details are available atthe GREAT STUFF® website: DIY hero.Protect living space above a garage. Insulation is often omitted from a garage ceiling, which isan energy-wasting mistake when there’s living space above the garage. Air-sealing the garageceiling, combined with insulation, will protect you from harmful fumes (from fuel, solvents, andother stored items) as well as from unnecessary heating and cooling costs. DIYscore: Go 4 pro.Insulate cantilevered areas. Many raised ranch houses feature cantilevered upper floors, orlevels that overhang the floor below. Such overhangs typically leak cool or warm air and arepoorly insulated –a combination that causes discomfort and wasted energy. To save on heatingand cooling costs while also making your house more comfortable, seal and insulate thecantilevers as shown at the Building America Solution Center (a division of the DOE): To access the joist cavities, you’ll have toremove the plywood soffit on the underside of the overhang. This can usually be done fairly easilyafter taking off trim installed around the edges. DIYscore: DIY hero.Insulate your crawl space. Building scientists recommend sealing and insulating a crawl spaceas an effective way to improve energy efficiency while also controlling moisture so that mold andmildew won’t contaminate this under-house space. It’s important to use the right kind of insulation
  4. 4. in a crawl space (rigid foam), and to install it correctly. You’ll find more detailed information at Dr.Energy Saver ( Go 4 pro.Install plastic window film to make older windows more energy efficient. Inexpensivewindow insulating kits, containing plastic film and double-faced adhesive tape, provide you with away to make old windows much more energy efficient. Use a hair dryer to tighten up the film andmake it virtually disappear. 3M, a company that manufactures these window insulator kits, has acalculator on their website that enables you to predict your annual energy savings. Go to DIY hero.Tint sunny hot windows. Energy-saving window films are available for direct application to awindow that’s admitting too much sunlight. Available in a range of shades, these films areespecially useful for reducing solar heat gain on large south-facing windows and glass doors.Tinted films may also be used on cars to keep them cooler in the summer and reduce the needfor air conditioning. DIYscore: DIY hero.Replace weatherstripping around exterior doors. Exterior doors come with weatherstrippingthat helps seal energy-wasting air leaks around door edges. But over time, the foam or plasticmaterial will wear out, fall out, or lose its resiliency. Bring a section of your old weatherstrippingmaterial to the hardware store or home center, and buy the same kind to install. Weatherstrippingis inexpensive, and in just a few minutes you can make your door work like new again. DIYscore:DIY hero.Don’t forget the door sweep. Unless you lie down on the floor, you probably won’t spot theairspace between an exterior door’s bottom edge and the door sill or threshold. But this gap canleak a lot of air, which wastes energy and causes cold drafts during winter months. The specifickind of weatherstripping used to seal the bottom of the door is called a “door sweep.” A littleresearch will tell you which type of door sweep is right for your doors. You’ll find good informationand products at the DIY Door Store ( DIY hero.Seal around basement windows. Builders don’t usually take the time to seal the gap between abasement window frame and the foundation wall. As a result, outside air can leak inside easily.Stop this energy-wasting air leakage by sealing gaps with exterior-grade caulk or spray foaminsulation. DIYscore: DIY hero.Stop wall leaks. Use spray foam insulation to seal the holes made in exterior walls for outdoorwater faucets, dryer vents, gas lines, and electrical lines. In addition to saving energy, this low-cost upgrade will keep out insect and rodent pests. DIYscore: DIY hero.Keep Your Attic Cool. Attic spaces can reach temperatures of 160 degrees F on a sunnysummer day where outside temperatures are in the 90s. This will cause your air conditioner towork a lot harder to keep living space below the attic cool, especially if your attic floor is not wellinsulated. Reduce up to 30% of energy use for air conditioning by ensuring adequate atticventilation with vents along the roof’s ridge, the soffits, and the gable ends. DIYscore: Go 4 pro.Close the garage door. If you have an attached garage, keep the garage door closed tomaintain a “buffer zone” between your living space and the extreme temperatures outside. Doingso will reduce your heating costs in winter and cooling costs in summer. DIYscore: Free & easy.Consider the embodied energy factor. An eco-conscious way to look at building materials is toconsider the energy it took to make them, or their “embodied energy.” When building orremodeling, choose materials with the lowest embodied energy that will still do the job. Forexample, wood studs have a much lower embodied energy than steel studs. Fiber-cement siding
  5. 5. has a lower embodied energy than vinyl siding. Work with designers that understand thecomplexity involved in making the right choices. And consider “recurring embodied energy,” too.It’s the energy involved in maintaining building materials over many years. DIYscore: Free &easy.Recycle building materials. It’s not only greener to reuse building materials; it can also saveyou time and money. Old kitchen cabinets can provide excellent storage space in a basement,garage or outbuilding. Framing lumber and plywood removed during remodeling can be reusedafter nails are removed. Craigslist is an excellent way to buy and sell used building materials.DIYscore: Free & easy.Seal your fireplace flue. A typical fireplace is a HUGE source of energy-wasting air leakageduring the winter. If you don’t use your fireplace on a regular basis, you can stop this leakage(and save on heating costs) by installing a “chimney balloon” or “chimney pillow.” After insertingthis tough plastic balloon into your flue, you simply inflate it to seal the chimney. Check out thisinformative video: DIYscore: DIY hero.Have an energy audit done on your house to identify and prioritize recommended upgrades.Depending on what programs are available in your area, the energy audit (aka “home energyassessment”) is a low-cost or no-cost analysis of your home’s energy consumptioncharacteristics. While the audit itself won’t save you money, it will identify your best opportunitiesfor making energy and money-saving improvements. For more details, see the explanation at Dr.Energy Saver: Go 4 pro.Use insulated window shades to keep the heat in or out. Insulated window shades can savejust as much energy as new replacement windows, and they cost a lot less to install. You have touse them the right way, however. Open shades when you want solar gain –like on a sunny winterday. Close the shades when you want to keep the heat inside the house in winter, or when youwant to block sunlight during the cooling season. DIYscore: DIY hero.Install an insulated pet door. Pet doors typically allow wintry blasts to invade your home.Replace an old pet door with a new insulated unit. Double flaps create an air pocket that keepsheat in during the winter (and out in the summer). Look for (non-PVC) flaps with magneticclosures that are designed to stay flexible in cold weather. It’s usually easier to install one ofthese doors in an existing exterior door than it is to install a pet door in an exterior wall. Find goodadvice at Pet2: DIYscore: DIYhero.HEATING & COOLING <18>Install a programmable thermostat. When you’re at work and the kids are at school, it makesno sense to heat or cool an empty house. Installing a programmable thermostat, whichautomatically adjusts settings, will allow you to preset times when heating or air-conditioning unitsturn on. Program the thermostat for low heating or cooling demand when you leave in themorning; then program it to make your living space comfortable about 30 minutes before you gethome. Do the same thing when you sleep: keep it set low when you’re in bed and program it tokick in when you wake up. You’ll use less energy, without sacrificing comfort. DIYscore: DIYhero.Stay cool with awnings. Awnings reduce the amount of sunlight that gets through glass doorsand windows, keeping your home’s interior cooler on hot days by as much as 8 to 15 degrees.This affordable upgrade will reduce the run time of your air conditioning system, cutting yourmonthly electric bill.DIYscore: Go 4 pro.
  6. 6. Reduce air leaks around windows and doors. In winter, cold air can leak into the housearound window and door openings. You can stop most of this leakage by sealing the gapbetween the window casing or door casing and the wallboard. Apply a bead of “window and door”caulk along the trim/wallboard joint, and then smooth it with a damp finger. Have some papertowels handy to wipe off the excess caulk as you’re smoothing the bead. DIYscore: DIY hero.Use your storm windows and doors. Just because you haven’t invested in super-efficient,triple-pane, low-E glazing, don’t neglect to use your storms in winter. A well-fit storm windowraises the R value of a single-pane window from 1 to nearly 2 – or as much as many double-paned windows. DIYscore: Free & easy.Control the summer sun. Use blinds, shutters, drapes, or shades to block or reduce the sunlightentering rooms with sunny exposures in summer. Exterior shutters and shades work bestbecause they block solar radiation before it can enter the house. However, interior shades aremore affordable and easier to install. (Get good how-to information at This Old House:,,536789,00.html)DIYscore: DIY hero.See how low you can go by turning down the thermostat to save on winter heating costs.The DOE says you can save 1% to 3% on your heating bill for every degree you lower yourthermostat. Thermostats are often set to the upper 60s or low 70s. Throw on a turtleneck andsweater, and then see if you can dial down to the mid 60s during the day. At night, sleep under aheavy blanket and turn the thermostat to the 50s. DIYscore: Free & easy.Clean or replace forced-air filters often. If your house has ductwork that’s used for heatingand/or cooling, your HVAC system will have an air filter that captures dust, pollen and otherparticulate matter as your forced-air system operates. When an air filter becomes full of dirt, theblower in your HVAC system has to work harder, which wastes energy. Some air filters can bereused after cleaning, but most can simply be replaced when they get clogged with dust. Eitherway, keeping your air filter clean will help your HVAC system perform more economically.DIYscore: DIY hero.Keep registers clear. Make sure that the supply and return registers in your forced-air HVACsystem aren’t blocked or covered by rugs, furniture or furnishings. Blockages disrupt the balanceof supply and return air, making the HVAC system operate inefficiently. DIYscore: Free & easy.Heat the room you’re in. Smart use of a portable space heater can enable you to keep a singleroom warm instead of having your furnace heat the entire house. According to the Department ofEnergy, space heaters use about 14% of the energy that the average whole-house heatingsystem does. When you’ll only be in a room for a short period or you want to heat a small area,choose a radiant heater. A convection heater circulates the air and is a better option when youwant to heat an entire room. DIYscore: Plan ahead.Zone out unused spaces. Zone heating allows you to keep large areas of the home cool whilewarming the rooms you’re using. The best time to install zone heating is when you’re building anew house and using a hydronic heating (water- or steam-based) system. It works especially wellwith radiant heat. You can create zones with electric heating, too, but keep in mind that suchsystems are inefficient in cold climates and costly to operate. DIYscore: Plan ahead.Cool more with fans and less with your AC system. Fans use Mother Nature’s coolingsystem, lowering your skin temperature by causing perspiration to evaporate. By using windowfans and ceiling fans to circulate air in your house, you’ll reduce demand for mechanical airconditioning, which costs much more to operate. To promote natural cooling, wear lightweight,loose, absorbent clothing. Just remember, fans only cool you when you feel the breeze. Turnthem off when you leave the room! DIYscore: Plan ahead.
  7. 7. Service your HVAC system. Just by performing routine maintenance on your HVAC system,you can avoid the extra expenses (and wasted energy) associated with poor systemperformance. If your furnace or boiler has an efficiency rating of 85%, make sure it can work atpeak efficiency with regular maintenance. DIYscore: Go 4 pro.Promote good air circulation for maximum AC efficiency. You can do this by keepingvegetation and other debris away from the outside condenser of your central AC system. Keepthe area around your outside condenser clear for peak AC performance. DIYscore: Free & easy.Cuddle more so you can heat less. If you’re sleeping together, why not add another blanketand turn the heat down or off completely? You’ll cut winter heating costs and enjoy some otherbenefits too. DIYscore: Free & easy.Seal and insulate ductwork. Leaky, uninsulated ducts can waste a huge amount of energy,especially when ducts are located in unconditioned parts of the house (basement, crawl space,and attic). Sealing ducts and adding duct insulation according to DOE guidelines will improveyour indoor air quality and cut your heating and cooling expenses by as much as 20%. Fordetails, go to: DIY heroKeep room air conditioners in the shade. A portable AC unit will operate more efficiently if it’snot in direct sunlight. DIYscore: Free & easy.Cap your drop-down attic stair. Drop-down stairs are notoriously leaky, causing both comfortand energy problems. Ready-made insulated caps are available for these folding stairs, but youcan also make your own from rigid foam insulation. For good instructions on making your ownattic cap, try this link: DIYscore: DIY hero.Reverse ceiling fan rotation for winter savings. Ceiling fans are energy-efficient ways to staycool in the summer. From a savings potential, however, they’re even better in the winter –especially in rooms with high ceilings. During the heating season, the warmest air collects in theupper part of a room. Run your ceiling fan at low speed with the switch set for upward air flow.The goal is to force warm air near the ceiling down the walls where it must rise again. Moving theheat where it will do the most good will reduce the run time of your heating system. DIYscore:Free & easy.LIGHTING <6>Save light at night. Lighting up the yard at night for safety, security, and beauty makes sense,but wasting watts does not. Here are a few things you can do to reduce usage:• Use solar-powered path lights or reflectors to mark driveways and walkways.• For security lighting, use motion detectors and timers.• Use low-voltage fixtures where possible. DIYscore: Plan ahead.Install occupancy sensor switches. Your lights remain on until the infrared (or ultrasonicsensor) no long senses occupancy and turns them off. Switches cost less than $50, install easilyin existing switch boxes, and often return your investment in one to three years. Begin in rooms,where the lights are commonly left on – and where one switch operates multiple fixtures.Switches come with wiring instructions, but don’t tackle this electrical assignment unless you canwork comfortably and safely. Never work with exposed lighting unless you turn the power off andtest to make sure it’s off. DIYscore: DIY hero.
  8. 8. Embrace LED lights. LED light bulbs use a minute amount of electricity compared to other typesof lights; and they last 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs and 3 times longer than compactfluorescent lights (CFLs). Until recently, however, LEDs have been too expensive to seriouslycompete with CFLs. But that’s changing. Instead of costing $30 apiece like they did two yearsago, an LED light can go for as little as $10 today. So give LEDs another look; they now qualifyas a smart investment. For more details, see this write-up in the New York Times: DIYscore: Plan ahead.Save on holiday lighting costs. To save energy and cut greenhouse gases, use LED (light-emitting diode) lights on trees and eaves and in holiday displays. LEDs consume less electricity—as much as 80% to 90% less. In addition, LED lights can last 20 to 50 times longer than a stringof incandescent lights. If you prefer the appearance of traditional holiday lights, put them on atimer to decrease the amount of time they are on. DIYscore: Plan ahead.Let there be daylight. The use of sunlight in the home, called daylighting, is a free sourceenergy. Windows, skylights, patio doors, and sunrooms are the most common daylightingresources (although fiber-optic daylight collectors are available, too). When building orremodeling, plan window and skylight locations carefully. A north-facing skylight, for example, canbring much-needed light into a kitchen or family room. A south-facing skylight may allow too muchlight and heat into the room. DIYscore: Plan ahead.Dim the lights. A dimmer switch allows you to set the mood – and save energy, too. Dim a lightby 25% and save 20% percent of the watts needed to power it. As a bonus, light bulbs will last 40times longer when left on the dimmed setting. If you’ve got basic wiring skills, it’s possible toreplace a standard light switch with a dimmer switch. A good place to make this upgrade is atswitches that control multiple recessed or other fixed overhead lights. DIYscore: DIY hero.LIFE IN GENERAL <14>Make your own household cleaners. Why spend money on expensive cleaning products thatmay contain harmful chemicals? Try these inexpensive, home-made cleaning solutions instead togo easier on your budget and the environment. • General-purpose cleaner and disinfectant: 1 part distilled white vinegar, 1 part hydrogen peroxide. • Glass cleaner: equal parts water and distilled vinegar. Instead of wiping the glass with paper towels, use old newspaper. • Toilet bowl cleaner: Pour half a cup of distilled white vinegar into the toilet bowl, followed by the same amount of baking soda. Let the mix foam for a couple of minutes, then scrub the bowl clean. DIYscore: almost free & easy.Find ways to do more walking and bike riding. According to the Department of Transportation,40% of all car trips in the United States are two miles or shorter, and more than 25% are lessthan a mile—distances that walkers and bicyclists can easily handle. These slower forms oftransport will enable you to smell the roses, taken in the sights, and enjoy a higher level of fitness.You’ll also see a drop in auto-related expenses. DIYscore: Free & easy.Use public transportation more so you can drive less. Taking the train or bus not only cutscarbon emissions while saving you money on gas. It also enables you to enjoy reading,conversation and making new friends. DIYscore: Plan ahead.Carpool whenever possible. Sharing the drive saves in multiple ways: gas, maintenance,repairs and parking. It can add up to as much $3,000 savings per year. DIYscore: Plan ahead.
  9. 9. Work from home. According to research done by SUN Microsystems, working at home insteadof commuting to the office can save you up to $1700 per year on gasoline, not to mention savingson coffee, lunch and clothing. DIYscore: Plan ahead.Realize some reel savings. If you have a small lawn to mow, retire your gas-powered mowerand use a modern reel mower instead. Well-designed models are available from Lee Valley Tools( In addition to eliminating fuel and tune-up expenses, you’ll begetting a good workout while cutting the grass. DIYscore: DIY hero.Shop online. Most people who shop online do so for the convenience. They can shop 24 hours aday and don’t have to worry about crowded stores, long lines, and parking-spot searches. Inaddition, E-commerce warehouses use 1/16th of the energy of that used to operate a traditionalretail store. Fewer trips to the store—in CO2-emitting vehicles—also save transportation energy.DIYscore: Free & easy.Make it last. Through smart maintenance, you can get years of additional service from almosteverything you own, including tools, clothing, and electronics. The longer you can make thingslast, the more resources and money you save. The exception is if you own extremely wastefulthings, such as a gas-guzzling SUV or a 30-year-old furnace. Your best ally in maintaining thingsis the owner’s manual that came with the equipment. Keep it filed in a safe place, along with listsof authorized repair shops. DIYscore: DIY hero.Grow an Organic Lawn. With a little extra care, you can eliminate expensive petrochemicalsfrom your lawn-maintenance routine. Begin by testing your soil to find out what to add to get thesoil’s pH right and to replace depleted nutrients. Try using only slow-release natural fertilizers,such as composted manure, bone meal, and dried poultry waste. Reduce the chance for diseaseand insect infestation—along with the need for herbicides and pesticides—by not cutting grasstoo short, avoiding over-fertilization, always using a sharp mower blade, and watering deeply butnot frequently. DIYscore: DIY hero.Start a backyard vegetable garden. Growing your own veggies cuts your grocery bill whilereducing the environmental impact of shipping produce long distances. You’ll get good exerciseand enjoy the health benefits of fresh, organically grown food. No sunny spot for a garden? Join(or start) a community garden in your neighborhood. DIYscore: DIY hero.Make compost for your garden. You’ll reduce the need to use energy intensively-producedfertilizers. Compost improves the vitality of flowers and vegetable plants, keeps moisture fromdraining or evaporating too quickly from the soil, and makes use of organic materials that wouldotherwise add to overburdened landfills and incinerators. DIYscore: DIY hero.Use your microwave. When warming up and cooking small amounts of food, use a microwaveinstead of a conventional oven. It will use about 50 percent less energy to do the job. The samegoes for defrosting—although the most efficient method here, of course, is to plan ahead and letfood defrost in the fridge. For cooking large meals, however, the stove is usually more efficient.DIYscore: Free & easy.Filter your own water. Water delivery companies expend huge amounts of money to bring“spring” water to your door (water that is probably not from a spring!). In addition to fuel for thetrucks, there’s oil byproduct used to make the bottles. Opt for a water purification system. It canbe as simple as a jug with a filter ( or as sophisticated as a whole-housefiltration system. DIYscore: Plan ahead.Be a more efficient cook. In the kitchen, we waste gas and electricity without realizing it. Trycovering your pots with lids and see how much faster water boils. Use large pans on largeburners and small pans on small burners; otherwise, much of the heat dissipates. Dig out yourpressure cooker, which can cut energy use by 50%. Bake with glass or ceramic pans – they allowfor cooler oven temperatures. Cook more than one thing at a time in the oven. And when cookingsomething small, use the toaster oven. DIYscore: Free & easy.RENEWABLE ENERGY <6>
  10. 10. Cook with the sun. It’s surprising how many solar ovens (aka “solar cookers”) are available.Some enterprising people have even made their own solar ovens using inexpensive materials likealuminum foil ( A solar oven can reachtemperatures of 300 degrees F and higher. Some units have a thermostatically-controlledelectrical element that switches on when clouds roll by to maintain even temperatures. DIYscore:Plan ahead.Get a passive solar boost. If you have a sunroom or enclosed porch with a southern exposure,it can be used to collect tremendous amounts of heat. Use fans or natural convection to move airthrough a doorway from solar-warmed rooms to adjacent interior spaces. Just be sure to providean opening for “return” air, such as a vent or an open window between the sunroom and thehouse, to ensure good air movement. DIYscore: DIY hero.Build an outdoor solar shower: Heat shower water with a coil of black hose, a black-paintedwater tank, or with a large black plastic water bag, sold for the purpose. You’ll only need to leavethem in the sun for an hour or two. Use the “gray” shower water to irrigate garden beds instead ofwasting it. Just be sure to use biodegradable soaps, rinses, and shampoos. DIYscore: DIY hero.Opt for solar pool heating. Unlike solar collectors used for domestic hot water, solar poolheaters are typically unglazed and made from a specially formulated plastic. Water from the poolis circulated through the solar collectors using the existing water filtration pump. However youheat your pool water, use a pool cover to prevent heat loss at night or on cool days. DIYscore:Plan ahead.Dry clothes on a rack or clothesline. Dryers account for a large amount of home energy useand carbon emissions. To be more environmentally friendly, give your dryer a rest. Go with theold-fashioned approach—the clothesline. Drying on a line can save 500 to 700 pounds of CO2 ayear. Your clothes—especially the elastics in socks and underwear—will last longer. Analternative to a clothesline is a drying rack, which is available in many sizes and styles.DIYscore: Plan ahead.Heat water with solar. Heating your domestic hot water with the sun requires a significantupfront cost, but the benefits are significant, too. Water heating causes just as much pollution asvehicles do in the U.S. It will take about 10 years for a solar thermal system to pay for itself inenergy savings, but renewable energy incentives can cut this payback time significantlydepending on climate. DIYscore: Plan ahead.AUTO <8>Lighten up. Don’t drive around with unnecessary extra weight in your car. Each 100lbs. of weightsubtracts a half mile from your mpg capability. DIYscore: Free & easy.Keep your car efficient. If you get regular tune-ups and perform routine maintenance on yourautomobile, you’ll reduce emissions and save fuel costs. According to the EPA, fixing a seriousmaintenance problem, such as a faulty oxygen sensor, can improve gas mileage by as much as40%! Replacing a dirty air filter can improve fuel economy by up to 10%. Other ways to get bettergas mileage include replacing worn spark plugs, making sure alignment is correct, fixing badbrakes, and using the correct grade of motor oil. DIYscore: Plan ahead.Warm up to fast starts. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the best way to warm up avehicle is to drive it. Even on the bitterest of winter days, you don’t need more than 30 seconds ofidling before you’re ready to hit the road. Idling for any longer wastes fuel and increasesgreenhouse gas emissions. Besides, running the car only warms the engine -- not the other parts,such as the catalytic converter, transmission, and so on. The only way to warm these parts is todrive. DIYscore: Free & easy.
  11. 11. Drive smarter. Drive in ways to reduce fuel consumption and you’ll be saving the earth andsaving money. You don’t have to have the most fuel-efficient car in the neighborhood. Just followthese four tips and you’ll get more miles to the gallon. 1. Maintain a steady speed. 2. Don’t speed.According to, gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph.3. Avoid quick starts and hard stops. 4. Don’t weave in and out of traffic. DIYscore: Free & easy(most of the time).Don’t be an idler. An idling car is wasting gas. A good rule is not let your car idle for more than30 seconds. Doing so burns more fuel than turning off the engine and restarting it when you’reready to leave. Some argue that this practice shortens the life of the battery and starter, but thefuel savings and cleaner air outweigh the minimal wear to these parts. In addition, a car that’s offcan’t accidentally jump into gear and cause an accident. DIYscore: Free & easy.Keep your tires inflated. Under-inflated tires require more energy because they increase “rollingresistance.” The engine has to work harder and, consequently, more fuel is consumed. Accordingto the DOE, properly inflated tires can improve your gas mileage by 3.3 percent, and under-inflated tires waste more than 3.5 million gallons of gas each day! Your recommended tireinflation can typically be found on the inside of the driver door jamb. DIYscore: Almost free &easy.Lower rolling resistance. Tire manufacturers are developing “low rolling resistance” tires thatreduce drag so you can increase your MPGs. According to Michelin, their new low RR tires cansave over $400 over the life of a set of tires (assuming a gas price of $3.75/gal.). Plan ahead.Consider a hybrid. An entry-level hybrid costs more than its non-hybrid counterpart—but you willmake up for the extra cost in fuel savings after several years. (Go to the calculator to find years-to-payback for the hybrid of your choice.) After that you canexpect to save every additional month you own the car. DIYscore: Plan ahead.WASHING, DRYING & WATER CONSERVATION <11>Take shorter showers. Simply wash and rinse a little quicker. Seems obvious, but it’s not soeasy. One solution is to buy a handheld shower set with a shutoff button. That way you can turnoff the water while you lather or shave—and turn it back on easily without having to stop andreadjust the water temperature. Handheld shower heads also allow you to rinse more efficiently.DIYscore: Free & easy.Install pipe insulation on hot and cold water supply lines, especially near your water heater.Insulating the hot pipes reduces heat loss and shortens the time it takes hot water to reach yourfaucets. Insulating cold lines reduces condensation. Foam pipe insulation is inexpensive andeasy to install -- except perhaps around elbows and valves. See for some excellent fitting tips. Pipe insulation should cut your water heatingexpenses by about $25 per year. DIYscore: DIY hero.Remove sediment from a tank-type water heater. This once-a-year maintenance task willimprove water heater efficiency and also help the unit last longer. Home improvement expert RonHazleton has a great video to guide you through this maintenance task: DIY hero.Run full loads in your washing machine. Doing a partial load uses the same amount of energyas a full load, but fewer clothes get cleaned. If you have to do a small load, adjust the water levelaccordingly. To save even more energy, consider using cold water—and cold-water-washdetergents—the next time you wash clothes. DIYscore: Free & easy.
  12. 12. Turn down the heat. Many water heaters are installed with the thermostat at a “factory setting” of140 degrees –quite a bit hotter than necessary. Turning the water heater’s thermostat down from140 to 120 degrees can save as much as $7 per month. DIYscore: Free & easy.Blanket your water heater. Water heaters account for up to 20% of the energy used in theaverage U.S. household. If your hot water heater is in an unheated space, such as an unfinishedbasement, insulate it and reduce your energy loss by 25% to 45%. Spend a little extra for yourtank insulation kit to get one with a radiant barrier. It will insulate better than a fiberglass-only kitand is not prone to moisture damage. Installation instructions come with the insulation.DIYscore: DIY hero.Use the moisture sensor. Most dryers today can be set to turn off once the desired degree ofdryness is achieved. This is a big improvement over using the built-in timer option in terms of bothconvenience and energy saving. In addition, using the moisture sensor will waste less time andenergy ironing wrinkled clothing – and make your clothing last longer. DIYscore: Free & easy.Clean the lint trap. Hot air doesn’t move through the dryer as efficiently when the lint trap is dirty,so the appliance has to work hotter and harder. Keeping the lint trap clean can decrease energyconsumption by up to 30%. It can extend the life of the dryer, too. DIYscore: Free & easy.Use low-flow devices. Installing aerators on your kitchen and bathroom faucets and “eco-friendly” shower heads can save thousands of gallons of water a year – and fuel, too, becauseyou end up heating fewer gallons of water. Some aerators come with shutoff valves that allow youto stop the flow of water without affecting the temperature. DIYscore: DIY hero.Be smart about washing dishes. Contrary to what many believe, using the dishwasher usesless water than washing by hand, even for the most conscientious hand washers. A dishwasheruses just 4 to 6 gallons per cycle, and washing by hand can use 10 to 20 gallons. But when youhave only a few lightly soiled dishes, do them by hand. You’ll save energy over time by reducingthe number of times you have to run the dishwasher. DIYscore: Free & easy.Switch to a tankless water heater. Between 15% and 30% of the energy used to heat water ismerely used for keeping the water hot while it’s not being used. Reduce this waste by installing atankless hot water heater. These units are compact and supply continuous hot water at rates ofabout 4 to 7 gallons per minute, depending on how hot you need the water to be. DIYscore: Planahead.