20 Easy Things You Can Do TODAY to Save $$, Reduce Waste and Stop Climate Change

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20 Easy Things You Can Do TODAY to Save $$, Reduce Waste and Stop Climate Change

Here’s our top 20, selected for ease, money savings, and impact!
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Tuesday, December 8, 2009 - 2:00pm


Ok, cancel that expensive, high carbon trip to Copenhagen - you can do a lot to save money, energy, and reverse climate change right from home. In our ongoing effort to bring you positive steps that you can take in your daily life to conserve, eliminate waste or turn it into resources, here are our Top 20 Waste and Money Saving Steps you can take to reverse climate change. We culled these from a larger list of 50 simple things that everyone can do to reduce global warming.

Here’s our top 20, selected for ease, money savings, and impact:

Heat and Light:

  1. Replace a regular incandescent light bulb with a compact fluorescent light bulb (cfl)
    CFLs use 60% less energy than a regular bulb. This simple switch will save about 300 pounds of carbon dioxide a year and $30 or more in operating costs.

  2. Install a programmable thermostat and turn your thermostat down 2° in winter and up 2° in summer
    Programmable thermostats will automatically lower the heat or air conditioning at night and raise them again in the morning. They can save you $100 a year on your energy bill. Almost half of the energy we use in our homes goes to heating and cooling. You could save about 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year with this simple 2° adjustment.

  3. Clean or replace filters on your furnace and air conditioner
    Cleaning a dirty air filter can save 350 pounds of carbon dioxide a year, and you’ll save money on operating efficiency.


  1. Do not leave appliances on standby
    Use the "on/off" function on the machine itself. A TV set that's switched on for 3 hours a day (the average time Europeans spend watching TV) and in standby mode during the remaining 21 hours uses about 40% of its energy in standby mode.

  2. Wrap your water heater in an insulation blanket
    You’ll save 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year with this simple action. You can save another 550 pounds per year by setting the thermostat no higher than 120°F.

  3. Move your fridge and freezer and defrost regularly
    Placing them next to the oven or stove consumes much more energy than if they were standing on their own. Energy use and cost can almost double and create an extra 160kg of CO2 emissions for fridges per year and 320kg for freezers. If you can, replace them with newer models, which all have automatic defrost cycles and are generally up to two times more energy-efficient than their predecessors.

Household Tips:

  1. Don't let heat escape from your house over a long period
    When airing your house, open the windows for only a few minutes. If you leave a small opening all day long, the energy needed to keep it warm inside during six cold months (10ºC or less outside temperature) would result in almost 1 ton of CO2 emissions.

  2. Replace your old single-glazed windows with double-glazing
    This requires a bit of upfront investment, but will halve the energy lost through windows and pay off in the long term. If you go for the best the market has to offer (wooden-framed double-glazed units with low-emission glass and filled with argon gas), you can even save more than 70% of the energy lost.

  3. Take a shower instead of a bath and use less hot water.
    It takes a lot of energy to heat water. A shower takes up to four times less energy than a bath. To maximize the energy saving, avoid power showers and use low-flow showerheads, (350 pounds of carbon dioxide saved per year), which are cheaper and provide the same comfort. Wash your clothes in cold or warm water (500 pounds saved per year) instead of hot.

  4. Use a clothesline instead of a dryer whenever possible
    You can save 700 pounds of carbon dioxide when you air dry your clothes for 6 months out of the year.

  5. Insulate and weatherize your home
    Properly insulating your walls and ceilings can save 25% of your home heating bill and 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year. Caulking and weather-stripping can save another 1,700 pounds per year. Energy Efficient has more information on how to better insulate your home.

Kitchen and Food:

  1. Cover your pots while cooking
    Doing so can save a lot of the energy needed for preparing the dish. Even better are pressure cookers and steamers: they can save around 70%!

  2. Be sure you’re recycling at home- including organic waste
    You can save 2,400 pounds of carbon dioxide a year by recycling half of the waste your household generates. Around 3% of the greenhouse gas emissions through the methane are released by decomposing bio-degradable waste. By recycling organic waste or composting it if you have a garden, you can help eliminate this problem!

  3. Buy locally grown and produced foods and fresh foods instead of frozen
    The average meal in the United States travels 1,200 miles from the farm to your plate. Buying locally will save fuel and keep money in your community. Frozen food uses 10 times more energy to produce.

  4. Buy organic foods as much as possible and eat less meat.
    Organic soils capture and store carbon dioxide at much higher levels than soils from conventional farms. If we grew all of our corn and soybeans organically, we’d remove 580 billion pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere! Methane is the second most significant greenhouse gas and cows are one of the greatest methane emitters. Their grassy diet and multiple stomachs cause them to produce methane, which they exhale with every breath.

  5. Buy intelligently, choose products that come with little packaging and buy refills when you can
    One bottle of 1.5 liters requires less energy and produces less waste than three bottles of 0.5 liters. As well, buy recycled paper products: it takes less 70 to 90% less energy to make recycled paper and it prevents the loss of forests worldwide. Reducing packaging also cuts down on waste production and energy use.

Work and Ride:

  1. Reduce the number of miles you drive by walking, biking, carpooling or taking mass transit wherever possible
    Avoiding just 10 miles of driving every week would eliminate about 500 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions a year! Look for transit options in your area.

  2. Drive carefully, keep your car tuned up and check your tires weekly to make sure they’re properly inflated
    You can reduce CO2 emissions by readjusting your driving style. Choose proper gears, do not abuse the gas pedal, use the engine brake instead of the pedal brake when possible and turn off your engine when your vehicle is motionless for more than one minute. By readjusting your driving style you can save money on both fuel and car maintenance. Regular maintenance helps improve fuel efficiency and reduces emissions. When just 1% of car owners properly maintain their cars, nearly a billion pounds of carbon dioxide are kept out of the atmosphere. Proper tire inflation can improve gas mileage by more than 3%. Since every gallon of gasoline saved keeps 20 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, every increase in fuel efficiency makes a difference!

  3. Try car sharing or telecommuting from home
    Need a car but don’t want to buy one? Community car sharing organizations provide access to a car and your membership fee covers gas, maintenance and insurance. Many companies – such as Flexcar - offer low emission or hybrid cars too! Also, see ZipCar. Telecommuting can help you drastically reduce the number of miles you drive every week. For more information, check out the Telework Coalition.

  4. Fly less
    Air travel produces large amounts of emissions so reducing how much you fly by even one or two trips a year can reduce your emissions significantly. You can offset your air travel carbon emissions when you must travel by investing in renewable energy projects.

Greenopolis.com is dedicated to our users. We focus our attention on changing the world through recycling, waste-to-energy and conservation. We reward our users for their sustainable behaviors on our website, through our Greenopolis Tracking Stations and with curbside recycling programs.


Keywords: 20 | Light | driving | heat | household | kitchen | money | save | tips