So your annoying kid has joined the Sunrise Movement and is now pleading with you to do your part to help stop climate disruption. No worries — we’re here to help. While individual people doing individual things will not by themselves stop climate change, every bit helps, and it also starts people on a journey of understanding the big picture, how daunting the challenge is, and the fact that we need all hands on deck.
The good news, and you don’t have to tell your kid this, is that if you and your family do all these things to improve your home’s efficiency, it will actually save you a lot of money. So, go ahead — do it for your kids (chuckle) and laugh yourself all the way to the bank.
Washing machine tips: Wash in cold water, unless there’s grease on your clothes. Modern detergents are all formulated to work with cold water, so why waste energy heating water you won’t get to enjoy in a nice hot shower? According to Hawaiian Electric, it can cost you $2.50 to wash your clothes, or $0.12, depending on whether you use hot water or cold water. Use cold. Here’s a full list of laundry tips and habits for saving money and energy.
Dryer tips: The clothes dryer is one of those appliances that really sucks energy. Not only that, it really heats up your home, creates a fire hazard (3,000 homes per year have dryer fires), and destroys your clothing. So … maybe try a foldable drying rack or a retractable clothesline once in a while until it becomes an easy habit. Your clothes will last longer, smell like fresh air, and not come with a huge carbon footprint.
Food storage tip: Remember when people baked pies? Grandma would put the pie on the windowsill to cool off. Take that same concept and apply it to your fridge. When you want to put leftovers away, just seal them up and wait for them to cool off before putting them in your fridge. Why make your fridge battle a hot object?
Dishwasher: Turn off the “heated dry” setting. It uses upwards of 80% of the total energy used by the dishwasher and is unnecessary. To help your dishes dry a little quicker, just open the door and prop it open with a wine cork after the cycle is complete. Otherwise, it just takes a little longer, so maybe get in the habit of setting your dishwasher to wash at night before you go to bed. When you wake up, dishes will be done — and dry, with 80% less electricity used.
Cooling tip: The AC is the biggest energy user in most homes. Dial it down a small notch to save some energy, and you can cool yourself with a moistened bandanna draped over your neck, a “stay cool” spray, or a fan. Note that cooling with a fan is *only* effective if you’re there to enjoy the wind chill. Otherwise, a fan on in an empty room only makes the room hotter. But fans are generally a lot more efficient as a cooling mechanism than AC. Here’s a top ten list of AC alternatives.
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