June 2009 - Our Daily Green

Monday, June 29, 2009

Shower Green

from Consumer Reports blog, August 22, 2008:

“Take showers instead of baths to save energy,” is an oft-repeated adage of water and energy conservation advocates. But the Department of Energy’s water-heater-sizing pages now list the average shower as consuming 12 gallons and the average bath only 9 gallons of hot water.

The DOE is also saying that homeowners are using from 15 to 30 percent of their total energy budget just to heat water—up from an earlier 14 to 25 percent estimate. So is soaking instead of scrubbing the way to go?

This was unsettling news for me, as a shower is an efficient way for me to wash away the day's grime. Even when I take a bath, I still follow up with a shower to rinse my hair and body. A bath is more of a luxury than a daily routine, for me and most of the folks I know.

To reconcile this surprising statistic, I have learned to turn OFF the water while I lather myself. I get wet, lather my washcloth, wash my hair quickly, rinse and put in the conditioner, then the water goes off while I wash my body, shave, scrub my feet, etc. Then a final rinse and my shower is done.

We've discovered that when we use this method instead of letting the shower run the entire time, all three showers in our house can be used and nobody gets cold water. Which means we aren't using up all the hot/energy consuming water. Additionally, the investment in a low flow showerhead, while required by some municipalities, can cause a groan. But with a little research, it needn't feel like a squirt gun, but a regular waterfall. The only thing that won't be washing down the drain is your pennies.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Fluorescent Green

CFLCompact fluorescent bulbs are one of the easiest and painless ways save electricity and money. They have come down so much in price that the payoff is today, not a year from now. A compact fluorescent can be found on sale for under $3.00/bulb. Nearly every light in our home, from the recessed lights, to the lamps, to the pendant lights has fluorescent bulbs. We estimate a monthly savings of about $5.00 off our electric bill. Additionally, the bulbs last up to 10 times longer than a regular light bulb.

For a thorough comparison to incandescent bulbs, here is a link from the U.S. Dept. of Energy, One drawback of fluorescent bulbs is that they take longer to warm up, so in colder temperatures, they start off rather dim. I think it's a small inconvenience when compared to the energy and financial savings.

Napkin Green

Clothesline for dryingSTOP thinking that your cloth napkins are for special occasions only!

We all have piles of them, stashed away in a drawer, to be used twice a year, at best. Stop thinking like that and start using them! Using cloth napkins is one of the easiest ways I know to conserve disposable paper while dressing up a table at the same time. They are small enough to fit in any laundry load. (and naturally, to dry on the line, so they don't need to be ironed).

It's time to take the cloth napkins out of storage and put them on your table. I keep my eyes peeled for napkins at garage sales and thrift stores as well and have quite a collection. They brighten my table and are reusable over and over.

Green can be quite elegant as well as thrifty.

Clothesline Green

There are so many reasons to dry clothing on a clothesline. The smell is reminscent of everything summer and wonderful. The image is charming and quaint.

Beyond that, the obvious benefit is electric conservation. Additionally, an opportunity to extend the life of your clothes. The lint in a dryer is the clothing fibers breaking down. Another benefit is that clothing dried on a line rarely needs ironing, it dries flat and wrinkle free.

ClotheslineFor some, there are homeowner's restrictions or stigmas. This can be circumvented with a very clever garage clothesline, to dry your clothes in the privacy of your own garage. In the winter, hanging racks are also available, which also will help humidify your air, cutting down on static electricity.

Living green involves a lot of lifestyle changes, I suggest incorporating them little by little, such as trying to dry at least one load a week on a line, until it becomes second nature. Your electric company may not send you any thank you notes, but your wallet will.

Green is the New Black

In so many ways, not just the politically correct way.

Living green also helps keep more green in your wallet. In economically tough times, any tip that conserves dollars as well as our environment is welcomed.

This blog will offer a daily tip to better living for both our planet and your wallet. Welcome to 2009, where Green is the new Black.