Here are some simple things you can do tonight, or tomorrow, or this weekend to make your home or apartment a more eco-friendly place.
Swap in some LED bulbs. It’s tempting to spring for the incandescents at the corner store, but a six-pack of LEDs can last 13 years per bulb.
Use more rags, fewer paper towels. We’re not saying no paper towels, we’re saying fewer. Cut up old shirts to make rags (just like grandma did!) and launder them in a batch whenever you run out.
Clean the fridge coils… Get a long, skinny brush like this one and use it to gently scrub loose any lint and scuzz from the coils under your fridge. This will help it use less energy to keep your food cold.
…and the filter on your dryer. Bonus: That tool also doubles as a cleaner for the lint slot in your dryer. You’ll be amazed at what comes out of it! And again, now that appliance is running more efficiently.
Line-dry whenever possible. Helps to have a good-looking drying rack, but a plain old clothesline works, too.
Get a set of dryer balls. Think about all the dryer sheets you go through doing laundry—did you know one set of wool dryer balls can do the same work (speed up dry time and fluff out wrinkles) without chemicals?
Get window treatments. Bare windows aren’t just a little bit naked-looking, they also let in heat and cool air from the outside even if sealed shut. Curtains and blinds can help with that.
9. Use cold water when washing your clothes. Hot water will actually set stains, and cold water will get your clothes just as clean. (You can even specify that your wash-and-fold place do this!)
Get power strips. Don’t just get and use them—flip them off whenever you’re done using the things that are plugged in. Everything from TVs to phone chargers can act as “vampire appliances,” leeching energy while not in use.
Time for a houseplant. Turn some of that CO2 into O2 just by potting a Ficus or Dracaena.
Fill your dishwasher all the way before running it… And if you really can’t wait, run it on the “top rack only” setting that so many of them have these days, instead of doing a full cycle just for four glasses.
…or run it in the middle of the night. Ever noticed that “delay” button on your dishwasher and wondered why you’d ever want to use it? If you set it to start during your electric company’s “off-peak hours” (usually the middle of the night), you’ll be reducing peak energy demand on the grid, and possibly getting charged less.
Upgrade to a a smart thermostat. Sure, your rickety manual one works just fine, but a smart thermostat will have a setting like Eco-Mode that automatically drops the temperature when you’re not home.
Get a low-flow showerhead. Just look for one with good reviews—that specify a powerful spray despite the restricted water use—and screw it on.
Plant herbs this spring. No need to buy parsley that had to be transported from a farm to your grocery when you can snip a few sprigs on the back deck. (On the kitchen counter by a sunny window would work, too.)
Turn down your water heater. The standard setting for a residential water heater is 140º F, but that’s extremely hot. To test: Turn on the hot tap but not the cold tap in your shower. Is it scalding? Too hot to touch? Try turning the heater down to 120º F so that the hottest it gets is your ideal shower temp.