Make every day Earth Day by enhancing your home environment in ways that help the environment.
Here are five ideas for starters:
- Make yours a “green” house by bringing in houseplants or planting a tree in your backyard to improve indoor and outdoor air quality. Shop locally for these perhaps at such places as Old Mill Nurseries, Island Greenery (new location at Oak Street & Bellmore Avenue), Colonial Floral Shop or Bellmore Petite Florist.
- Switch bulbs: The less electricity we use, the less responsible we are for the fossil fuels used to generate it, of course. The simplest way to cut electricity usage at home is to switch from incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescent (CFLs) or light emitting diodes (LEDs) whenever possible. These new bulbs are everywhere, and new decorative styles with improved brightness are on the market as never before, mostly owing to legislation passed by Congress in 2007, signed by President George Bush, mandating new light bulbs to be 25 to 30 percent more energy efficient by 2012. Compared to incandescents, CFLs use at least 75 percent less energy and last six to 10 times longer, while LEDs use even less power and last even longer.
- Be Energy Star Aware: Many of us have benefited by purchasing refrigerators, air conditioners, and other major appliances rated Energy Star by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy, but we may not realize that large appliances are just the beginning of making Energy Star ratings work at home. Energy Star ratings also cover many, many other household items. Insist on Energy Star rated products whenever you hire a contractor, for items such as windows, skylights, roofing, insulation, hot water tanks, central air conditioning and boilers/furnaces, for example. Shop Energy Star ratings for small items also, such as dehumidifiers, fans, televisions, computers and even cordless phones. Through the Energy Star program, Americans saved enough energy in 2010 alone to avoid greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from 33 million cars — all while saving nearly $18 billion on their utility bills, the EPA reports.
- Go paperless! Still sitting there every month with a pile of bills and first-class stamps? Switch to online bill pay, or pay by phone, to save paper (trees) and mail delivery costs (fuel). Check with your individual bank, credit card company, utility and other companies — most not only allow payment online, but also free email alerts when bills are due as well as free statement histories, often of use when tax time comes around.
- Make yours a "green" lawn: If the noise pollution and probable smoky air pollution from gas mowers and leaf blowers or the expense of a lawn service are not reason enough to mow your lawn yourself, perhaps the benefits of outdoor exercise will be. If you do make the switch, instead of using a gasoline-powered lawnmower and its coincident carbon emissions, consider an electric mower, which is free of air pollution, or a manual one, which is totally free of pollution and energy use.