Apr 16, 2013

Kermit was wrong....it's easy being 'green'!

There are so many reasons why we should be 'green'. Reduced dependence on fossil fuel use, environmental protection for now and future generations, and personal cost savings are just the tip of the iceberg. So, how do you do start?  You can do something small and realizing energy savings right away by looking and water use and lighting; even the smallest step helps make a difference! Here are my  top 5 ways to embrace 'green' practices: 

1) Upgrade to green.  With new government standards and improved technology, modern faucets are more efficient than ever. Saving up to 32% on your water usage, WaterSense certified faucets make going green practically effortless.  Big box hardware stores sell models that are well under $100.  A quick, first step toward going green, is installing flow optimized aerators -$3-$5 - which enable more effective performance for older faucets without much cost.

2) Go on-demand. If you have a large or growing family, tank-less water heaters offer a great way to cut home energy costs without impacting performance. By flash heating water and eliminating the tank water heater's long cycles you can cut energy use by 20%. You won't have to waste water while the shower gets warm, every shower will be warm for your whole family, and you can even run a washer at the same time if you use the right capacity. The water and energy savings is immediate, although to get a 100% return on your purchase can take a few years. Can't install one? Time your showers for 2-5 minutes.

3) Light it Right. With the new options for lighting being more available, less expensive, easy to understand, and offered in dimmable and color controlled bulbs, you'll light your homes better, for less, for a longer time. Light emitting diodes (LED) last 10X longer than dated incandescent bulbs do. Use them in your recessed housings and don't worry about changing them for 10 years. The cost to run LED is a fraction of your 'usual' costs.  One 7 watt LED bulb will emit as much light as a 60 watt incandescent one. Compact fluorescent lighting (CFL) is better than ever. No long waits to warm up, and color temperatures being soft and warm, make them easy replacements for incandescent bulbs.  CF's will last 4-5X longer, save up to 7X the energy, and many municipalities sell them for under $2 each to help get your energy use down.

4) Ditch the bottle This is a daily challenge for some people, but the end-result would be to lower the number water bottles we use and toss. In the US that number is an astounding 1500 bottles PER SECOND. All those plastic bottles use a lot of fossil fuel and pollute the environment. In fact, Americans buy over 29 billion water bottles a year and manufacturers use 17 million barrels of crude oil to make them. That’s enough oil to keep a million cars going for twelve months. Avoid the need for plastic bottles with water filtering faucets. You will save your wallet and help unclog waste disposal sites. When you're on the go, use washable BFA free or stainless (keeps drinks cooler) bottles.  If you knew that for every six water bottles we use, only one makes it to the recycling bin does that help inspire you? 

5) Keep water in check  It's important to check all water-using products regularly, with the bathroom accounting for roughly 60% of your home's water usage a leaky toilet or faucet can waste thousands of gallons a year without you knowing it. We waste gallons of water everyday by leaving sink faucets running. With hands-free faucets you ensure that water is used only when needed. Even simpler - and free - is to turn off the water while loading the dishwasher, brushing your teeth and shaving. Flow optimized shower heads can help further reduce water usage in the bathroom. New heads with fabulous pressure that leaves you feeling clean and energizes, use only 1.75 gallon per minute flow cutting water consumption and energy costs by up to 30%.