Simple, shocking ways to go green

By Joanne Loos Posted in: ImproveThe Fix is In

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As we near Earth Day, I can’t help but reflect on my own practices in doing what I can to help our planet. I will admit, before moving to Hawaii 10 years ago, I did not have a grasp on how my actions affected the environment. Perhaps it is the product of island living, or perhaps it is from getting older and wiser, but I am now much more conscious of my everyday choices and their effects on our planet.

This turns into a win-win situation. Aside from contributing to a better planet, I get another bonus: a lower electric bill. I used to think that making conscious efforts to go green and lower energy usage took a lot of effort.

However, I have learned that tiny actions add up. Consider some of these small steps you can take to lower your energy use — and your bill in the process.

Cook with a crock-pot. A slow cooker allows you to save money by using less electricity than a stove or oven. Plus, it will not heat your house the way those appliances do. I like to prep several meals at once and freeze them in large freezer bags. I thaw them one at a time over night, and pop them in the crock-pot in the morning.

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Turn the temperature down on your water heater. For every 10 degrees Fahrenheit you can lower the temperature, you can get three to five percent cost savings, according to energy.gov.

Try lowering a few degrees at a time to allow for easier acclimation.

Look into what options the electric company may have. For us, we recently enlisted in Hawaiian Electric’s Time-of-Use program. This program charges less for energy use between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Since I work from home, I typically use the majority of our energy during this time anyway. Now, I do so with purpose, waiting to run the dishwasher, washer and dryer until these hours.

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Switch to cold water. Not only does washing your clothes in cold water help to prevent color fading and clothing shrinkage, but it can also save you up to $60 annually in electricity costs, according to Consumer Reports.

Clean your appliances. Use the vacuum attachment to clean your refrigerator coils and your dryer’s lint trap. Scrub if necessary. This will help them to work more efficiently.

Get an energy audit. Professional auditors will perform a systematic review using special monitoring equipment. This will help you to assess your usage and how you can best save.

Have a comment or question for Joanne? Email thefixisinhawaii@gmail.com.