Most of us agree that keeping our planet and ourselves healthy should be a priority. However, we know that to get started “Going Green” takes some dedication and a bit of an upfront investment. But it’s well worth it! And you don’t have to start all at once…
Our goal is to see as many people as possible taking the steps to make 2018 their greenest year yet. God gave us stewardship of this planet and we take that very seriously. So we’ve committed to help – for the next year, we’re going to sprinkle in a few tips every month to help you gradually transform your home (and your life!) into an energy efficient, eco-friendly castle.
And we’re starting… In the Kitchen.
The only appliance that works harder in Florida than your AC Unit is your refrigerator. Despite the origins of the name – RE-Fridge-rator, it’s meant to keep food cool pretty much all the time. Anything you can do to help it, is going to save energy use and your electric bill. So:
- Keep it full – a fuller fridge means less air to continuously keep cool. And less of that air escapes when you open the door. Which reminds us…
- Know what you want before you open the door. It’s not just your teenagers that stand there staring into the void. And that frigid gaze is costing you $30-75 per year.
- Use the recommended factory settings, or slightly below. The companies do a lot of testing to determine energy efficiency. But there’s always a little wiggle room, and the lower the setting, the less the compressor will run, especially if you’re keeping it well-stocked.
- Defrost food inside. This is actually healthier and safer than leaving it in the sink or on the counter, and it transfers the energy loss (cold to warm) and the moisture to the refrigerator, meaning it works a little bit less.
- Make sure the seals work – loose seals can cost you countless dollars in higher power bills as the cool air seeps out. To test your seals, close the door on a dollar bill. If you can pull it out easily, or if it just slides out on its own, you’ve got a problem.
- Give it room to breathe. Leaving space between the wall and the coils on the back means they generate less heat and can expend it easier, reducing your energy costs, and the increased airflow lets them operate easier.
- As an added bonus, consider unplugging the automatic ice maker, water dispenser and cool electronic gadgets on the front. While these are all intended to reduce energy use and add convenience, they also add heat to the system that the fridge must compensate for. But we understand if you don’t want to go that far.
Getting back to keeping that fridge full. A lot of us have already invested in washable, reusable bags to take grocery shopping. When we remember them, that is. But that’s just the beginning. Here are a few other shopping tips to help maximize the sustainability of your kitchen.
- Plan ahead. Keeping your kitchen well-stocked means less trips to the grocery store, and less gas & time wasted. Do menus for each week so you know what you’ll need to buy and how much, so you only head to the store once, and keep that fridge full. And if you do come up short on an item, consider if it’s really needed, and if a substitution can be made from what you have on hand.
- Buy products with less packaging – less packaging means less trash. Not only can you save trips out to the cans outside, you’ll be reducing the build-up in landfills. Experts say we generate about 4.6 pounds of trash per person each day, amounting to 230-Million TONS of trash each year, just in the United States. And only 25-30% of that is recycled.
- Recycle everything you can. First, know what’s recyclable. Then know where you can take it. Most counties and communities on the Gulf Coast of Florida issue each household a recycling bin. Some are already transitioning to the large garbage can sized ones they use in other states. Use them, and fill them with paper, plastic, aluminum, glass, cardboard & milk jugs. Even soiled items. The more we recycle, the better it is for all of us.
- Eat less red meat, less often. Yeah, this isn’t our favorite either, and trust us, we aren’t trying to convince you to go vegan. But consider this – cattle take up a lot of space, then generate both methane and nitrous oxide, contributing 18% of our greenhouse emissions – more than car exhaust. So maybe just cut back a little.
More Quick Tips
Dishwasher vs Dish Washers – running the electric dishwasher uses 37% less water than hand washing. But only if the dishwasher is full. If you only use a few dishes per day, fill up one sink with soapy water, one with clear, turn the faucet off and save the electricity. This also works great to help train your kids to be more responsible. If you don’t mind a few water spots, you can also turn off the heat dry option, or just wipe the dishes dry yourself as soon as the cycle finishes.
Which Oven When – if you’re a small family, or only preparing a small meal, instead of kicking on the big, heat-generating oven, you can use a toaster oven, slow cooker, convection oven, or, yes, the microwave. When you’re cooking on the stovetop, use the smallest size pan you can – and put it on the smallest burner it fits. Also, when baking, you really don’t need to preheat anymore. Just turn the oven on when you’re ready to start – it’ll add maybe 3-5 minutes to the baking time, but save hundreds in electric, gas and AC bills.
Put a Lid on it! Cooking without lids can use up to three times as much energy as covering the pan. If you find yourself short on lids, look for one-size fits all options that are ribbed to fit various sized pots and pans.
Go Chemical Free – you don’t have to throw everything away at once and start over, but as you run out of cleaning products, replace them with organic, natural alternatives for harsh chemicals. You’ll feel better and will often find they’re more effective than what you’re used to. It’s the same for pest control. We’ve shown your neighbors from Lakewood Ranch to North Port that 100% organic, all-natural pest solutions are more effective and more affordable in the long run. If you’d like to find out for yourselves, give us a call!
So it’s really not that difficult to go green, if you take it one step at a time. Click here for more tips on Going Green around your home!