The Fast Five
You’ll see some topics on this blog get a little in depth and razor focused on a specific subject, but I strive to keep this blog digestible to even the newest home greenies. Today I thought I’d address what I’ll refer to as The Fast Five. Below are 5 tips that you can do in about 5 minutes to see immediate energy and environmental savings.
  1. Detach. First, take a survey of rarely used items in your home that are plugged in. Then, unplug. Anecdotally, I surveyed my grandma’s two-story home where she lives alone and found 16 electronics plugged in that almost never get used. Secondly, get into the habit of unplugging more commonly used items. Big offenders are device chargers and bathroom electronics, such as blow dryers, that are used daily. The reason being is that electronic devices, even when not in use, pull energy - up to 10% - which amounts to wasted energy and unnecessarily high utility bills. This is often referred to as phantom load, the vampire effect or, simply, standby power. So do a lap, unplug, and save!
  1. Lower the thermostat. If you lower the thermostat by just one degree when you’re away at work, you’re looking at a savings of 1% annually on your heating bill. If you adjust to a lower temperature permanently, the savings grow from there. If you have a programmable thermostat, use it. Many people have these but don’t take the time to learn how to use them. By setting it based on when you’ll be home, it will automatically adjust the house temperature and start saving money.
  1. Check out your disposables. Now, in 5 minutes, you aren’t going to eliminate every piece of waste in your home. However, in this preliminary 5 minutes, you could set your mind towards getting rid of one disposable item in your home. Take a lap and notice all the items you buy...and then throw away...and then buy...and then throw away. It’s money leaving your house in the trash bag. Be it your dixie cups, napkins, paper plates, plastic utensils, paper towels, ziplocks or water bottles, resolve to replace one item with a reusable alternative and budgeting for that item will be eliminated.
  1. Close the shades. This is a two-fold benefit. In the summer, shading your windows will not allow sunlight to penetrate your home and heat it up - causing an increased need for air conditioning. In the winter, a drawn shade can help insulate your windows from any drafts that you experience - decreasing the use of your heating system.
  1. Buy a Plant. Yes, this last one is a bit of a stretch time-wise, but bear with me. Going to the store is going to take some time, but potting a plant only takes a minute.  Bringing a plant into your home is one of the quickest ways to begin improving the air quality. We spend almost 90% of our time indoors, many of which is in our own homes, and its proven that indoor air quality is just not as clean as outdoors. With all the stuff that gathers dust and dirt and all the chemicals we bring into our homes, this is not hard to believe. Addressing the causes of poor air quality will take some effort, but starting to clean the air is as easy as a plant. Click here for recommendations for the best air purifying house plants. And hey, they’re pretty to look at too.
You’ve read it, now do it. And if you’re really looking for brownie points, time it and let me know how long it took you to complete The Fast Five!

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