Practice makes perfect for most learning endeavors and learning eco-friendly habits is no different.
Well-formed habits are hard to break, so shaping those habits toward a more energy-efficient lifestyle will help keep bills lower and eco-friendly resolutions in-check all year.
Eco-friendly Habits at Home
The home is where some of our best and worst habits are formed. With a bit of effort, home habits can become healthier as well as more eco-friendly and organized.
Turning off electronics when not in use is common conservation practice. However, lots of electronics continue to draw energy even when the “power” is off. Household energy consumption is largely comprised of this “vampire energy.” Plug electronics into a power strip which can be turned off to prevent their wasteful phantom use of energy.
Keep the home free of clutter and dust for optimum efficiency. Air filters should be changed on a monthly basis, the clothes dyer should be cleaned of lint regularly, as should any intake vents on appliances or ventilation systems. Use ceiling fans to aid climate control and keep hot water heater temperature set between 130 and 140 degrees.
Eco-efficient laundry habits should be crafted around running cold water cycles and line-drying most items. Other major appliance usage should be shifted toward conservation and sustainability. Seals and other refrigerator parts should be replaced when signs of wear appear. Likewise for burnt-out coils on electric ranges or gaskets on dishwashers. Regular maintenance and simple repair can save a lot of time and help conserve energy without breaking the bank.
Eco-friendly Habits for Shopping and Recycling
Habits with regard to consumption, shopping, and recycling should be examined and refined. Understanding requirements and practices of local recycling centers can provide more than the mere reward of eco-friendly living as rebates for home items such as batteries and light bulbs are sometimes available to provide incentives and rewards for recycling habits and green behavior.
Paper shopping bags should be chosen over plastic when available. When shopping at stores which only have plastic, bring a reusable bag from home or adopt creative ways to reuse plastic shopping bags. Plastic bags do not easily decompose; the by-product of which is bad for the environment, but good for those who reuse items.
Plastic bags can come in handy throughout daily life. In the kitchen, bags can be used as cabinet and drawer liners in lieu of shelf paper. The bags can be used in the refrigerator to prevent wrapped meats or other juicy items from leaking in refrigerator or to keep produce fresh and air tight.
Look for the energy star label when purchasing home item. Energy Star appliances and building materials often carry rebates, tax credits, and other incentives. However, lowered energy use can be its own reward through lowered bills. Smaller home items such as electronics, computers, and home entertainment equipment can also carry the Energy Star label. Televisions which meet Energy Star requirements use around 40 percent less energy than models without the label. According to EnergyStar.gov, qualified home entertainment equipment (such as audio amplifiers and receivers, DVD and Blue-ray players) can be “up to 60% more efficient and use as little as one quarter of the energy while off, than conventional models.”
Eco-friendly Habits for Traveling
Adopting more eco-friendly traveling habits will greatly reduce one’s carbon footprint. The most obvious green traveling habits involve bicycling, walking, or other methods of transport which don’t rely on fuel.
Walking requires little else besides a good pair of shoes. Pedestrian activity is the heart of urban areas, develop a habit of walking to the store or over short distances to increase engagement with the community and decrease dependance on fuel.
Bicycling also provides a healthy energy-free way of getting around. Well-planned routes can often lead to a quicker travel-time than cars (particularly over smaller distances and through congested areas.) When biking, remember to follow all traffic laws and patterns. Utilize hand signals when turning and outfit the bicycle with a headlight and rear-reflector. Remember to stretch before embarking and wear reflective clothing when biking or walking at night.
Those who commute longer distances should establish public transit and carpooling habits. Carpooling meet ups can be found online and carpool connection services are available in most metropolitan areas. Independent drivers should keep their tires properly inflated and cars in pristine condition.Well-running machines use less energy and get significantly better gas mileage whereas properly inflated tires add around three percent to the fuel economy of a vehicle.
Eco-friendly habits can help reinforce skills related to learning and study. Conservation, problem-solving and creative thinking are all by-products of energy-efficient living. Hone these skills and habits to reap the most benefit.
Katei Cranford is a recent UNCG grad and writer who uses eco-friendly habits to keep her bills low while increasing her ability to learn, explore, and share the world in which we live.