February 10, 2008

7 Tips to Environmental Goodness

This is the first in a short series of articles about ways you can help to avert climate change and environmental destruction. In upcoming articles I shall be looking at how you can be environmentally friendly when making new purchases to replace old items, and finally I shall be looking at how you can make some major investment in your house and lifestyle to help with the environment and climate.

The environment is something we should all be looking out for. While it is true that if we totally destroy the environment it would probably resurface again without any ill effects, but in the several thousand years it took to do so humankind would be wiped off the face of the planet. Not good!

But we look at the advice we are given regarding environmental conservation and it all appears to be something we have to make an effort to do. It's expensive! How many of us can afford to either buy a hybrid car or to make our current vehicles run on bio-fuel? There is a cost involved in that. Personally I think it is a cost we should all have to bear as the price of living on this planet. But it is also true to say that there are other things that you can do, individually, to lessen your burden on the planet and reduce your environmental impact and carbon emissions.

Here is a list of 7 tips you can follow to save the environment. You can follow these 7 tips NOW. There is no cost involved in doing them. In fact they may even save you money.

1) When you make a drink, don't fill the kettle to the top. Only boil enough water to make the cups you need to make. How much energy is spent boiling a kettle for tea (my English background there) or coffee that is then left in the kettle to be re-boiled later in the day when you want another cup? If you're only making two cups of coffee then only boil enough for 2 cups of coffee. It's simple logic

2) Don't leave appliances on standby overnight. It's amazing how many appliances are left on overnight. Each one of them will drain energy from the system and run up your electricity bill. Switch your TV OFF, don't just put it to standby. Switch off your DVD player, your stereo system, your set-top satellite receiver. Go into your office and switch off your printer, your plasma or LCD screen, your scanner. Hell, if you can do it, switch off your PC and router as well. The impact on the planet if we all did this would be phenomenal, and the cost savings for ourselves would soon add up.

3) Turn down the heat!. We all like to live in nice warm houses over winter (or have lovely air conditioned rooms in the summer). But if we were to drop the heating down by a couple of degrees (or even switch it off for whole chunks of the day - especially if we are out at work) again we would be saving the environment and reducing our fuel costs. Making the air conditioning a degree or two warmer in summer will have a more dramatic impact as the costs of cooling are higher than the costs of warming.

4) Drive more conservatively. I know, I know, all us guys like to put our pedal to the metal from time to time. There's a boy-racer in most of us just waiting to burn out from the lights. But if we were all to take a few simple steps while driving we could save a huge amount of energy. For a start, don't rev the car - either when starting the engine or when waiting at the lights. Then, when you pull away from the lights, do it smoothly and without excessive use of the throttle. Slowing down the same way, smoothly and gently. Conserve your fuel. When you're at the traffic lights make sure you kill the engine completely if you're going to be there for more than about 30 seconds. The fuel you waste starting a car is less then the fuel you waste idling for more than that long.

5) Shower instead of bath. This is a no-brainer for most people, but there are some (and I put my hand up here) who do not have a shower installed at home. Bath's waste about 4 times the water of showers, and this water needs to be heated up and then processed at the other end to be put back into the system. Taking a shower rather than taking a bath will result in more time for you during the day as well as reducing your heating costs and helping save the earth. Here are the stats for showering vs bathing.

6) Recycle. Another no-brainer. Most authorities now have appropriate recycling facilities so make use of them. Recycle your cans, your bottles, your papers. Compost your leftovers to make soil rather then sending them off to be incinerated or dropped into landfill. I have three recycle containers inside my house - each one collects either paper, glass or plastic. Each week I drop them into the appropriate bin and leave it for the authorities to dispose off. I regularly recycle clothes and shoes as well as taking the contents of my shredder to be disposed of properly. Each of these actions will reduce your environmental impact without impacting your personal bottom line.

7) Turn out lights. My father used to tell me I was trying to light the whole neighbourhood when I was small because I would go into a room, turn on the light and when I was finished in the room I would leave the light on. I'm much better nowadays. At the moment it is dark where I am and I believe there are just 2 lights on in my house. One is a standard ceiling mounted light (on an energy efficient bulb) and the other is a light unit plugged into the mains (and once again using energy efficient bulbs).

So there you are: 7 tips that will help to reduce your environmental impact and increase your disposable income. None of them will cost you a penny to implement.

Then, maybe with the money you save from following these tips you can order a wood burning stove or solar panels, or even a small windmill to help generate your own electricity! But that's a story for another post.

I'm sure my readers have other ideas about free ways to help the environment...?

Image courtesy of Pikaluk

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Original posting at Musings Cafe


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