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6 Resolutions for a Greener New Year   Smart Choices Archive

6 Resolutions for a Greener New Year

Image: Questline

Energy Efficiency

Are you looking to save energy and live more sustainably? The New Year is the perfect time to start fresh. With these resolutions, you can make some simple changes to your lifestyle that will have a positive impact on your energy bill and the environment.

1. Use less energy. Start simple: turn off lights and electronics when you're not using them. Next, adjust the thermostat when you’re not at home to save energy*. A Wi-Fi programmable thermostat is a low-cost upgrade that can optimize savings and add convenience. Light maintenance helps as well, like changing your furnace filter regularly to improve heating and cooling system efficiency.

2. Make your home more energy efficient. Start with lighting. Upgrade to LEDs, which use up to 80% less energy and last far longer than conventional incandescent bulbs. Check for air leaks in exterior doors and windows and seal with weatherstripping or caulk. Contact a qualified professional to conduct an energy audit of your home. You’ll receive a customized set of recommendations that will optimize efficiency and comfort.

3. Buy green. Think about what you’re purchasing. Do you really need it? If you do buy, select products and packaging made from recycled and recyclable materials.

4. Reuse and recycle. Don’t just throw things away; find ways to reuse them. Examples include boxes for storage and old clothing as rags. Separate waste — such as cans, bottles and plastic — and recycle them.

5. Eat local and organic. Organic foods are produced using sustainable practices and local foods reduce transportation and storage. Look for organic food at the grocery store and visit your local farmer’s market.

6. Use water wisely. Clean water isn’t an infinite resource. Use less by taking shorter showers and only running your dishwasher and clothes washer when you have a full load. Install low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators.

New Year’s resolutions are notoriously difficult to keep but stick with it. The lower energy bills, combined with the knowledge your actions are making a difference, should be enough to keep you going all year long.

Source: Questline

*According to Ross Welterlen, energy services engineering director with Corn Belt Power Cooperative, our REC members with a heat pump and backup resistance heating may be better served by following this advice from Green Building Advisor: “Get help from your service provider to properly program your thermostat if you have a heat pump with electric resistance backup heating elements. Make sure that the temperature set-back in the winter doesn’t turn on the electric resistance elements when returning to the normal temperature. Even when it's 25 degrees F outside the heat pump is at least twice as efficient as kicking on the electric elements. You might be much better off with a 'set and forget' strategy in the winter. You could save 5-8% on the overall heating energy use with a set-back strategy, but if even 1/4 of the heat comes from the resistance heaters when returning to normal, you'll be using more energy.“

Source: Green Building Advisor

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