By Brandi Scoggins
The green lifestyle that’s making its way across the nation is certainly alive and well in the Chattanooga area. In an effort to preserve the aptly named Scenic City, many residents are now searching for ways to make their home as environmentally sound as possible.
From reusable shopping bags in the supermarket to energy audits, there is a plethora of options available to Chattanoogans looking to go green at home and elsewhere. For those still searching, here are 25 practical tips that can be applied in and around the home for a fresh, green look and most of them don’t cost a thing:
Throughout the home
1. Change light bulbs throughout the house. Compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) use just 24% of the energy that a traditional lightbulb uses. You’ll reduce energy use and save money as CFLs have a longer lifespan.
2. Lower/raise temperature of your home in the appropriate season. During the summer, set the temp to about 78 degrees during the day and 85 degrees at night and in the winter go to around 68 degrees daytime and 60 degrees nighttime. Each degree change at eight straight hours will reduce energy use by 1% and save $40 to $100 per month, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
3. Use chemical-free cleaning agents around the house and outside. Switch over to products lacking harmful chemicals especially in situations where water can return to the environment such as washing a car.
4. Wash full loads of laundry for maximum energy savings or set controllers to appropriate size load settings to reduce the amount of energy wasted.
5. Dry multiple loads one right after the other. The dryer is already hot, so you’ll end up using less energy and saving money in the long run.
6. Paint rooms using lighter colors. They absorb less light and help conserve energy where dark colors tend to absorb more light and require higher energy use in the home.
7. Thresholds of doors should be closed completely. Make sure thresholds to outside doors are especially tight against the floor to conserve heat and cooling in the home throughout the seasons.
8. Unplug and/or turn off appliances when not in use. Turning off a light when you’re not in the room or unplugging a freezer that’s not in use will save energy in the home and money on the electric bill.
9. Take the TV out of the bedroom. Having a television set in the bedroom creates opportunity to fall asleep with it on and thereby increases unnecessary energy use. Take it out of the bedroom and turn it off when you’re not watching.
10. Opt out of taking baths frequently. Showers use about half as much hot water as a bath and shaving time off showers in addition will help you conserve water use.
11. Don’t leave water running. Whether you’re brushing your teeth or lathering soap on your hands, turn the water off unless it’s in full use.
12. Change your shower curtain. Instead of vinyl, opt for cotton or hemp curtains to hang in the shower. They don’t have the toxins in the fabric and reduce the accumulation of mildew.
13. Wrap the hot water heater in an insulation blanket. This simple act saves as much as 1000 pounds of CO2 a year.
In the kitchen
14. Use the microwave rather than the stove. When you can, opt to microwave foods and meals at home. It requires less energy and is more efficient.
15. Make sure stovetops are completely covered when cooking. Use the appropriate sized pan or pot for each stovetop surface so that energy is not wasted.
16. Use covered pans and kettles to boil water. Covering the dish is faster and uses less energy. Also, make sure to only boil what you need.
17. Plan meals ahead of time. When cooking entire meals make sure that several foods cook at the same time in the oven and on the stove. You get the most use of the stove/oven for the energy.
18. Scrape dishes clean instead of rinsing them before they go into the dishwasher. Soaking and/or rinsing should be reserved for burned or dried on foods on dishes.
19. Let dishes air dry if you have the option. If your dishwasher doesn’t have an automatic air dry setting, turn the controls off after the final rinse and leave the door open for dishes to dry out.
20. Cover liquids and wrap foods stored in the refrigerator. Uncovered foods release moisture and make the compressor in the refrigerator work harder, thereby using more energy.
21. Keep appliances in the kitchen as clean as possible. A clean surface maximizes the amount of energy reflected toward food.
22. Don’t preheat the oven. Unless a recipe absolutely requires it, avoid preheating the oven.
23. Keep the oven door closed while cooking. While it’s tempting to sneak a peek, opening the door releases more energy and lowers the temperature by as much as 25 degrees. Set a timer to cook your dishes accurately and make sure the window is clean enough so that you can track how your food is cooking.
In the yard
24. Add trees and shrubs to your landscaping. They help absorb noise and sunlight in addition to creating additional oxygen and improving air quality around your home.
25. Check the sprinkler. To keep the lawn fresh while still conserving water, set your sprinkler on a setting that releases large drops of water close to the ground. Make sure the location of the sprinkler ensures water hitting the lawn and not the pavement. Watering early in the morning hours will help the soil absorb the water better and eliminate evaporation.
For additional tips and resources on making your home more green, visit these Web sites: