So last week I told you about the Walmart/Seventh Generation Sustainability Challenge that I am participating in. I’m very excited to have this campaign as an incentive to change our lives to be even more sustainable. .. but I was also a little lost.
I mean we already do a lot of things in the Frugal Upstate household to make our lives green & sustainable.
- We garden organically, make compost and can our own organic produce.
- We recycle about 80% of our trash.
- We don’t use much in the way of disposable paper products (yes, TP & tissues, but rarely paper towel, plates, etc)
- We shop used whenever possible and donate our own unwanted used items to the thrift store.
- We don’t use AC (except a unit on a timer in our attic bedroom-trust me, you couldn’t sleep up there otherwise) and keep the heat on timers and way down in the winter.
- I cook from scratch which cuts down on packaging waste & allows me to control the quality of our food.
- I clean using mostly homemade eco friendly products.
So what was I actually going to do for this challenge?
After some thought I decided that these four weeks were the perfect time to take some of the areas we do “pretty well” in and strive to do even better! Not only that, but I’m going to use Walmart & Seventh Generation’s own sustainability initiatives as my inspiration.
Over the next 4 weeks I vow to save more electricity, recycle even more, control my indoor air quality and reduce our family’s fossil fuel usage!
I’m starting this week with saving more electricity.
One of the areas that Walmart has set some impressive goals and made great strides in is the sustainability of their buildings. I was especially impressed by the ways they are cutting back on the electricity used at the stores. Things like using LED’s in their exterior building signs & refrigerated food cases (52 percent more energy efficient operation than fluorescent) and using daylight harvesting via skylights (75 percent reduction of the electric lighting energy used in a supercenter during daylight hours).
So what can I do at home that mimic’s Walmart’s example?
Well I too can reduce the amount of electricity that I use on lighting my home.
1. Use daylight whenever possible.
I already do this frequently-but I can be much more deliberate about it. I can also police my kids to make sure they don’t just flip on an overhead light out of habit when there is plenty of daylight in the room.
2. Turn out lights when not in use
This is one of those things that we do. Sometimes. When we remember. The kids in particular are bad about turning their bedroom lights on in the morning, then heading downstairs without ever flipping them off again. Sometimes I don’t go upstairs until 2 or 3pm and realize that their lights have been on ALL DAY. This week I will make sure I do a “light check” upstairs in the morning and afternoon to ensure no lights are left on unnecessarily.
3. Use Compact Fluorescent bulbs (CF bulbs).
Since saving energy is also saving money, we’ve been interested in using CF bulbs for years. Slowly over time we’ve replace bulbs as they burned out, but we are far from 100% CF. I went around the house today and actually counted the number of light bulbs.
Are you ready for this? If you count everything, light fixtures, lamps, appliances, floodlights outside, etc. . . we have 97 lightbulbs at our house.
Out of those 27 are already CF bulbs, 41 are various odd sizes or required types that I don’t believe come in CF (18 chandelier bulbs, 6 appliance style bulbs, 7 odd shapes/sizes, 10 Halogen, 2 fluorescent tubes & 3 large porch bulbs), that leaves 29 regular incandescent bulbs.
Wow. At a guess of $3 a pack, that would be $87 to replace them all. Hmm. I’m going to have to get a bit creative on this one!
4. Use timers.
We already have the AC in our bedroom on a timer (no point in air conditioning a room while we aren’t in it), the thermostats for the heat are all programmable, and our Keurig coffeepot has a timer function to keep the water in the reservoir hot. All of these ensure that the power is only being used when we are most likely to need it. What else in the house could benefit from being on a timer?
5. Turn off energy thieves.
Many appliances and chargers use energy even when they are turned “off”. I know that we have a bad habit of leaving cell phone chargers plugged in, and I frequently leave my laptop plugged in and on-even when I’m not using it for hours. . .we also leave the desktop computer on constantly. I’ll really have to look at this one and see how I can improve!
So what other ideas do you have for me? How else can I save energy in my home?