Here are five simple tips that you can get started on today for becoming more environmentally friendly by using less fossil fuel-based energy. Though some of these options may have upfront costs, they offer the advantage of saving you money in the long-run.
- Use solar-powered chargers. Solar-powered chargers for portable electronic devices are constantly getting less expensive and more efficient at transforming sunlight into electricity to charge your phones, laptops, and other electronics. You’ll never have to plug in your electronics again, plus these panels are portable, meaning you can use them wherever you can get a few hours of sunlight. Many reviewers have suggested charging your gadgets while you’re driving, so that you can still have easy access to them while they’re charging.
- Collect rainwater. You can buy a rain barrel designed especially for the purpose of catching rain water (usually placed under a gutter), or you can just put out empty containers before it rains. Of course, you don’t want to drink rainwater, but it can be used perfectly well for watering plants, washing off outdoor furniture, and even for flushing toilets. Cover the containers once there is water in them, because otherwise the stagnant water will draw mosquitoes.
- Grow your own food. Some edible plants are more suited than others to be grown in small spaces, but herbs, tomatoes, and strawberries are among the most popular foods to grow if you have access to at least a small balcony. (Also check out our posts on herbs to grow here and fruits and vegetables to grow here). If you only have a window, most herbs will receive enough sunlight there to survive, but for vegetables and fruits you might want to buy grow lights to make sure your plants will get enough light to produce. We use the AeroGrow indoor garden to automate the whole process and have grown the herbs pack with it with great success.
- Use compact fluorescent light bulbs. These energy-efficient light bulbs use 75% less energy than normal light bulbs while providing the same amount of light. We prefer them not only because of the fossil fuels and energy costs saved, but because their light is warm and white, not yellow like incandescent light bulbs. They are made to last about five years, and you can save hundreds on your energy bill if you replace all bulbs in your house with these when they burn out.
- Insulate your home. Most homes in the US that are as young as ten years old are under-insulated, meaning that heat transfers through your walls faster than it should, increasing your heating and cooling bills. Proper insulation will lower your bills as well as reduce the fossil fuel-based energy used in generating them. It also extends the life of your air conditioners and home heating devices, so you have to buy and repair them less often. For more on insulating your home, Lowe’s has a great article on insulating your home and which materials you will need,