Recently, I’ve been posting about the importance of reducing our impact on the global environment. Rather than simply talking abstractly about such ideas, I thought it might be helpful to share some recommendations for modern-day citizens from the experts. Following is a list of my favorite helpful suggestions from the Alliance to Save Energy, the US Department of Energy, and Sustainable Energy Ireland.

When it comes to the environment, I hail from the dark side of the force. So trust me, if a ‘leave all the lights on’ ‘take 30-minute showers’ ‘blast the air conditioning’ girl can come around, anyone can do it! I think the trick is to start with small steps. Decide to adopt the technique that seems most approachable and stick with it! You can integrate the others later. Remember, every little bit helps. (And, you might save a bit on your energy/heating/water bills!)

In addition to the obvious (ie. recycle, turn off every electronic item when it’s not in use, etc.) the following recommendations are pretty useful:

— Air dry dishes instead of using your dishwasher’s drying cycle. Always use the economy button when possible.
— Take short, 5-minute showers instead of baths. A typical shower uses only one fifth of the energy of a full bath. Does five minutes sound painfully short? Go for ten minutes, and then whittle your way down.
— Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes. Switch to cold water washing of laundry whenever possible.
— Activate “sleep” features on computers and office equipment that power down when not in use for a while. Turning your computer off at night instead of leaving it on will save on average 25% of its annual energy bill.  Remember, you should turn off your computer whenever you are not going to use it for more than an hour.
— Use “task” lighting rather than whole room lighting when a small amount of light is required.
— Drive sensibly. Aggressive driving (speeding, rapid acceleration and braking) wastes gasoline.
— Use compact fluorescent light bulbs.
— In summer, keep window coverings closed on the south, east, and west windows. Use fans whenever possible instead of AC, and ventilate at night this way when practical.
— Switch on electric blankets no more than half an hour before you go to bed and switch off just before you get into bed. Even better, try throwing an extra comforter on the bed and skipping the electric blanket altogether!

Feel free to add your other favorite suggestions as comments. I’d love to hear your tips, as I am definitely an environmental work in progress. 🙂