tagHow ToHow to Save and Observe Earth Day

How to Save and Observe Earth Day


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For those of you who are concerned about saving the planet, here are some things you can do.

If you live in an area that has a lot of sunny days, get yourself off the grid by installing solar panels and using the sun to help power your house. Instead of buying electricity from the electric company, solar energy is a great way to save money. Unfortunately, the initial cost to install solar panels on an average home will run thirty to forty thousand dollars.

To help offset the initial expense, there are plenty of federal and state tax incentives to help shorten the period you'll have to wait to earn back your money. Just like anything else for a home from painting to installing windows, depending on the quality of the solar panels, different solar panel contractors will charge different prices for materials and installation. The key is to shop around and make sure whoever you hire is reputable, licensed, and an insured solar panel contractor.

Buy a tankless water heater to conserve on the energy it takes to heat your water. Tankless water heaters cost more to buy and more to install than regular water heaters, but you'll see a savings in your water and energy bill over the years. I've read good and bad reports about tankless water heaters. A little research will tell you if a tankless water heater fits your family's lifestyle.

For those of you who are considering a new car, think about an alternative fuel vehicle. With the prices finally coming down, this is the time to buy one. The electric and hybrid cars have dropped in price considerably and continue to decline in price every year that more people buy them. Moreover, there are federal and state tax credits that you can deduct at year end for going green with your vehicle.

Battery powered and hybrid vehicles are here to stay and don't kid yourself about gas prices going down, as a reason to buy another gas guzzler. Gasoline prices will continue to escalate, as more people use fossil fuels and as fossil fuel reserves diminish. Of course, to buy all of the above, solar panels, a tankless water heater, and a hybrid car is a huge outlay of cash. Yet, in time, not only will you receive your money back in energy costs but also you'll be doing your fair share to help save the planet by reducing your carbon foot print.

Yet, for those of us who don't have the money to buy solar panels to add to the roof of your house, take on the initial expense of a tankless water heater, or even sell and/or trade in your car for a battery powered or hybrid car, there are plenty of small things that you can do to save yourself money now and in the long run later. Turn your heat down lower by a degree or two and wear a sweater, take shorter showers, and drive less, slow down, and avoid jack rabbit starts. Believe it or not, depending on your speed and stopping distances, braking your car uses as much and sometimes more energy than stepping on the gas. In these times of disruptive and life altering recessionary transitions of high unemployment and home foreclosures, there are many smaller and less expensive ways to change your lifestyle, save you some money, and help to save the planet, all at the same time.

Bring your own reusable bags to the supermarket, instead of asking for paper over plastic. Of course, you won't save any money but it will help to save the planet. If we all did that, at the very least, used our own reusable bags, we'd notice the difference. Just think of all the trees we'd save by not using paper bags and all the energy we'd conserve and landfills we'd save by not using plastic bags.

When wrapping a package to send through the mail, instead of using bubble wrap and Styrofoam, use newspapers for packaging. The newspapers are kinder to our landfills than bubble wrap and Styrofoam. Besides, the money you'll save by not having to purchase bubble wrap and Styrofoam is money in your pocket. By reusing crumpled up newspapers for packing, you not only help to save the environment but also you'll give whomever you're sending your package to, something to read about that's happening in your part of the world. Not to mention if we all reused and recycled our old newspapers, we'd save tens of thousands of trees each year.

Instead of just hopping in your car to run endless daily errands, going to the bank one day and the Post Office the next, and the supermarket the next day, combine your errands. By bunching up your errands and planning your car trips, instead of going out every day, go out once or twice a week. Just the money you'd save on gasoline and the wear and tear on your car is money in your pocket and worth taking the time and effort to plan your trips. Also, there are even insurance discounts, when driving your car less than four thousand miles a year.

Of course, why take your car at all, when you can use public transportation? Many of us live a few blocks from the bus line, yet, instead of walking to and from the bus, instead of getting some exercise, we take the car. Imagine the money you'd save every week by taking public transportation to and from work. For those who don't like taking public transportation, then a good alternative is carpooling. Not only will you save on gas but also you'll save on the wear and tear of your vehicle by having the people in your carpool take turns driving to and from work.

Many of us live in a warmer part of the country where, instead of driving our cars, instead of taking public transportation, and instead of carpooling, we can walk, ride a bike, or even rollerblade to work. Of course, you don't have to do that every day. Walk, ride a bike, or rollerblade on the nice days, take public transportation one day or two days, carpool another day, and take your car one day. You'll not only help to save the planet but also will improve your health by shedding a few pounds with the physical activity. As an added benefit, you won't be as bored by the mundane daily drive to and from work.

It would be nice if we all had our own pit crew, but there are things that we can inexpensively do ourselves that will not only save us money now but also later. Maintain your automobile. Not only is a well maintained automobile safer but also it will save you money on gas and unnecessary and expensive repairs. Just regularly checking your tire pressure will not only save your tires and make them last longer but also will save you on gas, shorten your stopping distances, and make your car handle better. Even washing and waxing your car will automatically make you drive slower. Proven psychologically, being in a shiny, clean car makes you appreciate driving it by driving it slower.

When in your house, instead of keeping the blinds closed, the shades drawn, and the drapes pulled shut, open them up. Even if the sun isn't shining brightly, you'd be surprised how much warmth the sun will naturally give off to heat your home, even through the clouds. By taking advantage the sun's natural solar energy, whenever you can, you'll not only cut down on costly heating bills but also you will help save the planet by not wasting fossil fuels needlessly.

Take advantage of you electric company's offer to do a free energy audit inspection of your home. For free, they will change all of your light bulbs to more efficient energy conserving ones. Sure the energy efficient are more costly to buy later, but they last many times longer than regular less efficient light bulbs. Over time, by using energy conserving light bulbs, they will not only you save money on your electric bill but also will save much needed energy for the planet.

If you're not going to be home, if you're at work all day, if you're going away for the weekend, or taking a week or two week vacation away from home, then unplug all of those electronics. If you're not using them anyway, when you won't even be at home, why pay for the electricity? Not only will you save money on your electric bill but also you'll help to save the planet. Yeah, sure, it may be a pain-in-the-ass to reset all the clocks but, you'd be surprised of the savings in energy costs. Unplugging all your electronics is well worth your time and effort that it takes to reset them.

You wouldn't think that buying your fruits and vegetables from a local farmer helps to save the planet, but it does. By supporting local farmers not only will you buy fresher, cheaper, and better tasting produce but also you'll be saving energy and the environment by not having what you need to be trucked in from out of state. Buy fruits and vegetables from a local farmer.

Buying organic fruits and vegetables is another way to be kind to the environment. They may cost a bit more and not stay as fresh as long, but eating organic fruits and vegetables is a good way to help save the planet. We don't need all those pesticides and synthetic growth hormones that the big companies use to increase their profit margins. We don't need to inject all those chemicals in our bodies, especially for those people more at risk that have jeopardize immune systems, such as the very young and the very old. By buying organic fruits and vegetables, we'll be sending a message to the produce companies that we don't want them to unnaturally grow their produce to larger sizes, just to increase their profits at the risk of our health and the health of the environment. Artificially grown fruits and vegetables not only help to destroy the planet but may make us sick in the process.

Another way to help save the environment is to use the products that grandma used to use before the advent of all these new chemically concocted cleaners. Some of these new cleaners have a laundry list of chemicals that we can't even pronounce and don't know what they do to the environment or to us, for that matter. It may be decades before we discover that Pledge or Tide or Windex causes cancer. For sure, just because a product says that its new, improved, and safe to use doesn't make it any better than what grandma used. Instead of buying household cleaners that are loaded with chemicals that we can't even pronounce, use baking soda, peroxide, white vinegar, and ammonia, the things that grandma used to use and those things that will clean everything and anything without harming us and/or the environment.

We Americans not only eat too much food but also we waste too much food. Food scraps are a natural plant grower. Instead of throwing away food scraps and/or feeding leftovers to Buster, put it out in your compost pile. Your plants will show you by their improved growth how much they like the organic and non-toxic garbage by blooming bigger and brighter next spring.

Of course, this goes without saying, but I'll write it as a reminder anyway. Recycle, if you're not already recycling. Today, you can recycle practically anything and everything, not just cans, bottles, and plastics. From bottles, to cans, to plastics, paper, and cardboard, even unwanted, outdated, and broken electronics, you'd be amazed at how much energy savings recycling, as much as you can, will do, while helping to preserve the environment.

Although I don't recommend recycling toilet paper, did you know that recycled paper is cheaper to make than making paper from wood pulp. By recycling paper, think of it as saving a tree. Just because you've written on one side of the paper, turn it over and write on the other side. Instead of writing in ink, write with a pencil so that you can erase what you wrote and reuse the same piece of paper over again. Dry erase boards are a great way to leave notes without wasting paper. Saving trees starts with conserving and recycling paper.

All of us are guilty of wasting water. Just as there is plenty of water today, that won't always be the case. Maybe not in the lifetimes of most of us will the lack of water be a problem, but it already is for many communities, such as Las Vegas, Nevada. Lake Mead is already showing signs of drying up and disappearing. What happens to the Hoover Dam, when that happens? In the meantime, there are some simple things that we all can do that will save a lot of water without us even noticing. Use low flow showerheads. Instead of putting a brick in your toilet tank, buy a new toilet. With every flush, the modern toilets use much less water.

One of the best ways to save money and energy is to wear a sweater on those chilly days and lower your thermostat. If you have an old, outdated analog, thermostat, invest in a new digital, electronic one. The old thermostats are as inaccurate as they are inefficient and are a big fuel waster.

Especially for those people who live in a colder climate and who depend on fossil fuels to heat their homes in the winter, you can save a bundle by making sure your walls are insulated and you doors and windows are air tight. Ceiling fans, instead of running air conditioners and/or heaters are a good way to save on electricity. Have your ceiling fan blades rotate in the opposite direction during the winter to push the heat down and in the summer, then change the direction of the blades to help cool the room in the summer.

All of these things separately may not save you a great deal of money, but when putting them all together, they will save you a small fortune. If we all changed our lifestyles to include these energy saving things in our lives, we'd make a huge improvement in the health of the planet and our wallets. I hope these suggestions will not only save you money but also help to save the environment.

Happy Earth Day

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