Home activities to help our environment

Helping the environment is about celebrating creation, being good stewards, and passing on those values to the next generation. Here are some things that you and your family can do at home.

1. Save on energy: Use energy efficient appliances and light bulbs (Look for “energy star”).

  • Wash laundry in cold water instead of hot.
  • Turn off the lights when you leave the room.
  • Lower the temperature on your hot water heater.
  • Unplug chargers & appliances when not using & turn off computers.

2. Save gas: Combine errands or use public transportation, walk, or bike.

3. Avoid buying and using single-use plastic.

Consider using:

  • Bar soaps, shampoo, and detergent strips or reuse containers and buy bulk.
  • Reusable bags, water bottles, coffee mugs.
  • Repurpose glass jars for leftovers or for bulk storage.

4. Buy local, buy less, buy used: Support the local economy.

5. Research options for signing up for local renewable energy.

6. Save on paper (and save money):

  • Use scrap paper, envelopes, junk mail, etc. for lists and notes; print on two sides.
  • Use cloth instead of paper to clean.
  • Repurpose old towels & t-shirts for cleaning cloths.
  • Use cloth napkins instead of paper.
  • Eliminate paper bills and pay online. Opt for electronic communications.

7. Support local restaurants that use food derived less than 25 miles away.

8. Research making and using your own household cleaners.

9. Toilet paper: Use sustainably sourced products like recycled or bamboo.

10. Switch to shade-grown coffee with the “Fair Trade” label.

11. Don’t use poisons and sprays for rodents and insects because when ingested they can harm local wildlife or pets.

12. Learn more and be inspired:

  • Watch documentaries: Food Inc., Our Planet, Before the Flood, and The True Cost.
  • Read blogs: You Grow Girl, Zero Waste Home, The Good Trade, and The Sustainable Edit.
  • Read books: Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle; Michael Pollan’s Food Rules; and Carleen Madigan’s The Backyard Homestead.

Adjust Window Treatments

During the day, let sunlight in by opening curtains, blinds and shades on the windows facing the sun to reduce heating demand. At night, keep drapes and curtains closed to reduce heat loss.

Clean Boilers and Furnaces

Make sure your boiler or furnace is cleaned and serviced by a qualified professional for optimum efficiency. Gas systems and heat pumps should be serviced once every two years; oil systems every year. Cleaning substantially extends the life and efficiency of the heating system while ensuring safe operation.

Reduce Phantom Load

Many appliances continue to draw power when they are switched off. These “phantom” loads occur in most appliances that use electricity, such as DVDs, televisions, stereos, computers, and kitchen appliances. Plug devices into a power strip and switch it off when the devices are not in use.

Seal Receptacles and Switch Boxes with Foam Gaskets

Seal Receptacles and Switch Boxes with Foam Gaskets — installing foam gaskets can reduce drafts and create an extra thermal barrier.

Remove Old Appliances

Reduce your annual energy bill by as much as $100 by unplugging and properly disposing of your unneeded refrigerators. BGE offers a $50 incentive to recycle your old refrigerator. Find out more about at bge.com or by calling 866-898-1901.

Install a Programmable Thermostat

Programmable thermostats can reduce heating costs and energy use by decreasing temperatures at night or when your home is unoccupied.

Heat Water Efficiently

Upgrading your electric water heater to a heat pump water heater can save the average household up to $330 a year. BGE offers a $500 rebate for heat pump water heater. Find out more about heat pump water heaters at BGE.com.

Save While Washing

Use the low- temperature settings on the washing machine and load the washing machine to capacity. Washing one large load uses less energy than washing two smaller loads. When drying, dry full loads whenever possible, but be careful not to overfill the dryer. Or, you can also hang your clothes out to dry. Cleaning the dryer filter after each use can also reduce dryer energy use.

Turn Down Your Water Heater

Set your water heater thermostat at the lowest temperature that provides you with sufficiently hot water. If you use a lot of hot water, you may need to set the temperature higher to provide enough hot water for your needs. Try setting it at 120°F.

Switch Out Old Light Bulbs

Replacing 15 inefficient incandescent bulbs in your home with energy-saving LEDs could save you about $50 per year. BGE discounts LEDs at retailers across the state.

Know Where it Goes and Consider your Diet

Overall, the average American uses about 2,000 gallons of water a day – about twice the global average. Our diets make up about half of our water footprint, transportation and electricity about 20 percent, home water use about 10 percent, and clothes and material goods another 10 percent. By making some simple choices, we can shrink our water footprint. One of the easiest ways to shrink your water footprint is by reducing food waste. You can reduce your further by cutting down on eating meat and dairy: making a quarter pounder requires water equivalent to 30 showers.

Install Energy and Water-Saving Shower Heads

Did you know the average family can save about 700 gallons of water and the amount of electricity it takes to power a house for eleven days, just by switching to a low-flow showerhead? Look for a shower head model with the EPA “Water Sense” label or a flow rate of less than 2.0 gallons per minute.

Repair All Leaky Faucets

A faucet dripping one drip per second can waste up to 3,000 gallons of water over the course of a year, enough to take 180 showers.

Measure Your Footprint

National Geographic has an interesting water footprint calculator. Calculate your water footprint at watercalculator.org.

Consider an Efficient Washer

Nearly 22% of indoor home water use comes from doing laundry. Most front-loading washing machines are energy- and water-efficient, using just over 20 gallons a load, while most top-loading machines, unless they are energy-efficient, use 40 gallons per load. Save water by making sure to adjust the settings on your machine to the proper load size.