Day 1: Turn Down the Heat
Here’s a quick, easy solution that will save you money and save energy: turn down your thermostat. Lowering your heat in winter by just 2 degrees can cut your energy bill by 10 percent. Get an automatic or programmable thermostat to make it easy to save on heating; set it to turn down when you’re away from home or sleeping, and to turn back up half an hour before you’ll be up and about.
Day 2: Unplug Gadgets
- Electronic equipment
- and appliances suck up energy even when they’re turned off — they’ve actually earned the nickname “vampires.” Americans waste $1 billion a year powering items like TVs and DVD players while they’re turned off. So unplug your TV, stereo, computer, microwave, and other equipment when you’re not using them — or plug a bunch of things into a power strip that you keep turned off unless you’re using one of the items. And make sure to unplug your cell-phone and MP3 chargers as soon as the devices are powered up. Get tips from Grist advice columnist Umbra Fisk on using power strips and electric-use meters.
Day 3: Wash Clothes Efficiently
When it comes to laundry, there’s lots of room for savings. Ninety percent of the energy used in clothes washing goes to heat the water, so washing in cold is a simple way to cut energy use drastically. Wash only full loads. When it comes time to dry, make sure to check the lint screen before every load and clean it afterward. And if you want to take efficiency a step further, hang some or all items and let them air-dry instead of running them through the dryer. Check out advice from Umbra Fisk on air-drying laundry and buying an efficient washing machine.
Day 4: Eat Less Meat
Meat production requires heaps more energy and resources than growing vegetables or grains; in fact, 18 percent of human-caused greenhouse gases comes from the livestock industry. You don’t have to be a strict vegetarian to make a difference in this area: try skipping meat just one day a week. If every American had one meat-free day per week, it would reduce emissions as much as taking 8 million cars off the roads. Read more reasons to cut meat consumption from Grist advice guru Umbra Fisk, Grist staff writer David Roberts, and activist Bruce Friedrich.