Adjust Your Refrigerator and Water Heater
Water heating is the second largest energy expense in your home, typically accounting for about 18% of your utility bill. The Department of Energy recommends setting the thermostat on your water heater to 120°F to get comfortable hot water and reduce energy expenditure.
The Department of Energy suggests setting your refrigerator to between 37°F to 40°F and the freezer to 5°F for optimum efficiency. Make sure the doors seal properly. Keep your refrigerator a few inches from the wall and vacuum its condenser coils every year to help it run more efficiently.
Try composting as a way to use your kitchen and yard waste to benefit your garden. Not sure how to get started? Check out these composting resources at the library.
Reduce Plastic Waste
The library has started recycling newspaper bags. You can do the same by bringing yours to the Bag2Bag recycling bin at Sunset or another participating store. They also accept dry cleaning bags and other plastic bags and some shrink wraps. See the Bag2Bag site for more information on what they recycle.
It is estimated that 17 million gallons of crude oil are used on an annual basis to produce plastic bottles, and 22 billion water bottles end up in landfills every year. Instead of bottled water, keep a pitcher in the fridge at home or fill a reusable bottle or cup from the cooler at work.
Reduce Paper Waste
Pay your bills online and switch to paperless statements.
Think before printing. Set your printer default to double-sided and use Print Preview to print only the pages you need. Save files on your computer instead of printing them for your records.
Switch to cloth napkins, and reduce or eliminate your use of paper towels. Use sponges or washable cloths to clean up messes instead.
Go Green at the Grocer
Buy in bulk to reduce packaging waste.
Concentrated detergents save on plastics and water.
A carrot typically travels 1,838 miles to reach your table. Shop at your local farmer’s market in season, or check for signs in your grocery store indicating locally grown and made foods.
Buying organic produce helps reduce pesticides and groundwater contamination.
And of course, Bring Your Own Bag!
Between 5% and 20% of your home electric bill comes from vampire electric use--the energy used by appliances when turned off. Unplug small appliances and chargers when not in use.
Check out the Kill-a-Watt meter from the Multimedia Department to see which of your appliances are using the most energy.
Switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs (usually spiral-shaped). CFLs typically last 6,000 to 15,000 hours, whereas standard bulbs last 750 or 1,000 hours. They are also more efficient, using between one-seventh to one-third the energy of ordinary bulbs.
Languishing light bulbs waste energy, create heat, and run up utility bills. Turn the lights off when you leave a room, or better yet buy motion detecting light sensors to attach to your lamps. These detectors cost about $20 but, according to the US Department of Energy, will reduce overall energy consumption by 35-45%.