It’s So Easy Being Green: Everyday Conservation Tips To Protect Our Natural Resources and Your Wallet

Each year, millions of Americans make a resolution to become more “green” and live more sustainable lives. For some, that means being more conscious of what products they buy and what they recycle. For others, it may be a complete lifestyle change. However, there is no need to fundamentally rethink everything you do – even simple changes make a big difference over time by helping to conserve our natural resources and saving you significant money. Below are some small steps and links to more resources that can show you how easy being “green” can be:

Conserving Electricity:

  • One-Time Changes With Big Impacts:
    • Turn Your Water Heater Down to 120 Degrees: Up to 18% of your home’s power is consumed by your water heater, and lowering your water temperature can make a major difference.
    • Switch your light bulbs over to Compact Fluorescent (CFL) or LED bulbs:  According to some estimates, a single CFL bulb can result in up to $92 in energy savings over its lifetime. Be sure to change both your interior and exterior bulbs to maximize savings.
    • Switch to a programmable thermostat: A programmable thermostat allows you to schedule the temperature throughout the day. A change in a few degrees while you are away or asleep can save up to 10% of your heating and cooling costs.
  • Regular Actions:
    • Plug all electronics into power strips, and turn off the strips when items are not in use:  TVs, DVD players and electronics consume a lot of electricity, even when simply in standby mode.
    • Right-size your laundry and dishwashing loads: Most modern washing machines allow the user to select the appropriate setting for each type of load (for example, there is a setting for a medium-sized load). Right-sizing not only saves water – it can reduce the amount of hot water used and, therefore, also save electricity. 

Conserving Water:

  • One-Time Changes With Big Impacts:
    • When possible, switch to Watersense-labeled products: The US Environmental Protection Agency actively partners with manufacturers, retailers and distributors to label products specifically design to promote water efficiency through its WaterSense program.  Look for the WaterSense label when purchasing.
    • Insulate Your Hot Water Pipes: Ever spend time waiting for hot water at a sink? Waste less electricity and water by insulating your pipes to keep hot water warmer longer and reduce the amount of water lost.
  • Regular Actions:
    • Regularly listen for drips and leaks: The average home loses over 10,000 gallons of water per year due to leaks (almost $50 per year). Listen for them and repair them as you find them to avoid lost water and higher utility bills.
    • Use an automatic water timer for your sprinkler and adjust it each season: Up to 60% of a home’s water usage can be used directly on sprinkling if a home has an irrigation system. Use an automated timer to maximize the effectiveness of your system. Watch out for rain and the forecast and stop the sprinkler so it won’t water in the rain. 

Conserving Natural Gas:

  • One-Time Changes With Big Impacts:
    • Locate and repair air leaks: Air leaks, or openings that allow air from the outside to enter the house, can occur anywhere in your home and lead to much higher natural gas consumption in the winter. Finding and addressing those leaks by caulking or weather-stripping doors and windows can make a huge difference.
    • Locate and repair air duct leaks: Air ducts carry forced air from your furnace and air conditioning unit to the rest of your home. When working as designed, they are highly efficient but leaks can cause bills to skyrocket. Sometimes ducts will have an obvious separation which can be repaired with duct tape. For more major repairs, hire a professional.
  • Regular Actions:
    • Make More Efficient Use of Your Dryer: An improperly used dryer can consume an extraordinarily large amount of natural gas. If your machine has a moisture sensor, use that to ensure your cloths are not overly dried.

For more tips, see the US Department of Energy's Energy Savers Guide.