Some Easy Ways To GO GREEN!

By Nick Frisella (Energy Efficiency and Sustainability Director – Metro Lighting)

Make the Switch To LED
Installing an LED bulb is the quickest, easiest way to save energy — and money. Unlike incandescent bulbs, LED lights convert most of the energy they use into light rather than heat. Why? They consume about 85% less electricity and last up to 25 times longer (25,000 hours as opposed to 1,500). Replace one 60-watt incandescent bulb with a 10 watt LED and save up to $83 over the life of the bulb.

Look for the Label
When it’s time to replace a household appliance look for the little blue ENERGY STAR label! In the early 1990’s ENERGY STAR was created by the EPA. The Energy Star program rates products from light bulbs to kitchen appliances; there are now more than 65 product categories. The Energy Star label guarantees the product you are purchasing is energy-efficient. For example, a battery charger labeled with the Energy Star logo will use 35 percent less energy than a standard one. You may even be eligible for a tax credit when you purchase an Energy Star product. Rebates and Federal tax credits can be found at www.dsireusa.org and at energystar.gov. Why? You know you are starting from a level of energy efficiency

Unplug Things That Glow
Anything that has a light that glows even after you turn it off continues to draw power (that you are paying for). Your TV, cell phone charger, x-box and printer are likely culprits. Unplug the offenders or plug them into power strips and when you leave a room, flip the strip switch to cut the flow of electricity. Why? When you unplug appliances and electronics that glow, you could save more than $200 a year.

Recycle Your Electronics
Americans tossed out more than 6 billion pounds of electronics — TVs, stereos, cell phones, and computers. Millions of pounds of chemicals and heavy metals ended up in the ground. The Consumer Electronics Association created mygreenelectronics.org to help people find a recycling resource in your area. What’s in it for you? The average household has three cell phones stashed in a drawer. You can send unused cell phones to greenphone.com. You’ll receive about $30, and the phones will be refurbished and resold. Recycling electronics is good for the environment.

Buy Local
When you buy local you invest money that stays in the local economy. This is especially important when it comes to local farmers. If your food could talk, it would tell quite a tale. On average produce travels 1,500 miles before it ends up on your plate. All this traveling burns fossil fuels and results in carbon emissions. When you buy from local farmers you’re not only getting the freshest food possible you are reducing carbon emissions. Good for You: You can feel good about the purchases you make because they help local businesses grow. To find farmers nationwide, visit localharvest.org, sustainabletable.org, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture at www.ams.usda.govfarmersmarkets/map.htm.

Do Full Loads
The average family runs more than 150 loads of dishes, which uses about 1,500 gallons of water and does about 540 loads of laundry a year, which consumes up to 21,000 gallons of water. Most of the energy consumed by washing your clothes goes toward heating the water and using the dryer. Try making a close line in the back yard, you’ll be outside more and maybe it will inspire you to make a garden! Making sure you do full loads, whether clothes or dishes, will reduce the amount of water and electricity you use.

Why?: Wash two fewer loads of clothes and one fewer load of dishes a week and save up to 4,500 gallons of water a year and will save you money on your utility bills.

Audit Your Energy
If you know where you are starting from, it makes it easier to come up with a plan to save energy. Doing a self audit takes a couple of hours and pays off with energy savings. Make a list of things you can do to curb consumption. Find an auditor through your utility company (at low or no cost), or hire one ($450-$650). A list of auditors certified by the nonprofit Residential Energy Services Network, is at resnet.us (click on Consumer Information). Good for You: A household with Energy Star products uses about 30 percent less energy than the average household — an annual savings of about $570.

Sources: ENERGY STAR, The Consumer Electronics Association, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Residential Energy Services Network, EPA, Department of Energy and more)