Where to begin?

This is often the first question I receive when I speak to people about sustainability.  Whether they are planning a new building, greening their business or changing some habits at home… They are never quite sure of the proper steps or the first step.  My reply to them most generally is start small.  Sustainability can be an overwhelming concept at first glance.  Even the word itself is a bit of a mouthful.  There are literally millions of companies are now bombarding us with their green marketing. It is easy for people to become confused and unsure.  Hopefully these few suggestions can help you on your way to ‘green’ baby steps.

Start with Energy – Any measure you take with regards to conserving energy will pay off dividends in both the short and long term.  This will also free up some extra dollars in your budget to implement some more drastic measures later on.  Here are some very easy, low cost (under $100), every day items which you can implement to reduce energy usage.

  • Change One Lightbulb – Chances are that you have already started to do this in your home or business.  Changing out the old incandescent bulbs for new compact fluorescent or if you are really an early adopter, LED Lightbulbs.  LED bulbs have come down in price drastically in the last year because more manufactuers and big box stores are beginning to carry them.  This is very encouraging!  There are several advantages to switching out incandescent bulbs including: longer life and lower energy usage… This means changing them less often!   Home Depot has LED Bulbs for $17.97 which will last for 46 years and save you over $200 over the life of each bulb http://bit.ly/giCTcz

  • Buy & Install a programmable thermostat – They boast up to a 33% energy savings if installed and implemented properly which would result in an average savings of at least 20-30 dollars per month.  Here is a link to a honeywell 7-day programmable thermostat which costs $81.69 on amazon.  http://amzn.to/hz4EEX Estimated payback on your investment in 3-4 months (payback).

  • Unplug – With our homes becoming more and more technologically advanced electronics seem to be piling up in every room.  TV’s, Computers, iPads, Portable Phones, Video Game Systems, Baby Monitors, DVD/CD Players, Radios, Appliances, and more.  Most electronics today constantly draw electricity when plugged in.  This is often referred to as phantom loads or plug loads.  The more we can unplug these items, the more we will see a savings in energy each month.  Here is a fantastic product from Belkin to help you do just this – The Belkin Smart Plug turns off the power strip when the TV is turned off.  http://bit.ly/fuNSpyPayback is 6 months (money in your pocket every month after that)

  • Turn off AC/Heat in Fall and Spring – No one likes to be uncomfortable so I don’t suggest doing this in the summer or winter.  If the weather is pleasant enough for you to be walking around the neighborhood in a t-shirt and shorts, try opening the windows and turning off your air conditioning and/or heat in the house.  This will save a lot of energy and allow you to get tons of fresh air which is always a great thing.

These are a few quick and easy steps to conserving energy.  Look for more tips on integrating sustainability into your life. If you have others , feel free to share


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