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Archive for the ‘Going Green’ Category

Lowering My Electric Bill

We just paid our last electric bill and it was much higher than it has been on average.  We usually pay around $100 a month in electricity and this month it was $155.  So, I’ve decided we need to do something to try to get this back under control.  It has been cold here, and there have been days in January when we did not leave the house because it was too cold and snowy outside, so I’m sure between the extra heating and using the lights, TV, etc. more added up.

I’m going to start simple and see how much I can reduce our electricity by doing some basic things:

1) Turning off lights – I’m usually pretty good about turning off the lights when I leave the room, however sometimes when I’m in a hurry or have a toddler squirming in my arms I see that a light is on and just don’t turn it off when I leave the room.

2) Unplugging things – Standby power for appliances you have plugged in but are not actually using has been estimated to be around 5% of all of your household power.  I know we are guilty of leaving things plugged in that don’t necessarily need to be.

3) Opening the windows – I’m home a large portion of the day since I stay home with Jacob and don’t go to work.  But, I know sometimes I turn on lights instead of opening the blinds to let light in.

I’m going to leave it at that, and try to get in the habit of doing these three things before I delve deeper.  I’ll try to report back in a month or two when we get our electricity bill and see how it’s going.  Of course, it won’t be as cold in March as it was in January so it won’t be a great comparison, but I’m still hoping we’ll be able to see a difference.  I’m hoping we’ll be able to become greener and save a little money at the same time with this undertaking.  If anyone out there decides to join me, you’ll have to let me know how you do with it as well!

Dishwashing vs. Hand Washing Dishes

We’ve had quite the week this past week.  First, Jeremy had a flat tire and had to have all of his tires and struts replaced on his car.  The next day we had our dishwasher break and leak water all over our Purgo floor, resulting in us needing a new dishwasher AND floor.  And a couple of days later our air conditioner went out.  All of this has resulted in us having to make a bunch of repairs and purchase some new things.  Between having to buy a new dishwasher and having to hand wash a bunch of dishes I started wondering – is it greener to hand wash dishes or to have a dishwasher do it for you?

Well, according to Treehugger.com the answer is actually to use a dishwasher.  According to their website the average dishwasher uses 6 gallons of water, whereas if you hand wash your dishes every minute you have the water running you are using 2 gallons of water.  And, if you have an Energy Star rated dishwasher the average cycle only uses 4 gallons of water.  The amount of energy your dishwasher uses to run and heat the water is usually less than what your hot water heater would use to heat the water if you are hand washing the dishes.   As far as I can tell however, their calculations do not take in to consideration the actual manufacturing of the dishwasher or environmental impact of disposing of it when it breaks (and if you have our luck that is way sooner that it should be).  So, you are saving water and energy by running a dishwasher as opposed to hand washing, and most homes and apartments come with a dishwasher anyway, so if you have a working one, it is more energy efficient to use it.  The manufacturing and disposal piece of the equation really only comes in to play when your dishwasher breaks and you are trying to decide whether to buy a new one or go back to hand washing.

We however, still opted to buy a dishwasher, but did get the consumer reports #1 rated dishwasher this time (a Kenmore), which is an Energy Star rated appliance.  Hopefully, this will last longer than our last one and use less energy as well.

If you are looking for other ways to save water and energy in washing your dishes, try these tips:

For a dishwasher -

Try running your dishwasher on a “light” load cycle if you have one, you may find that it does the job just fine and will run for shorter and save you in water and electricity, especially if you don’t have any caked on food.

Skip the “heated dry” cycle and just let your dishes air dry to save on energy.

Only run full loads of dishes.

Use environmentally friendly dishwashing soap without phosphates in them.  We’ve tried both 7th Generation and Palmolive’s Eco environmentally friendly option and liked the Palmolive version better.  But try a few before you give up on the idea completely if you are not getting the clean you like.

For hand washing -

Turn off the water when you are not using it.  I have to remind myself to do this or I tend to just leave the water going, and at 2 gallons a minute that is quite a bit off water!

Reuse dishes and water glasses, etc. more than once before washing them.

Again, use an environmentally friendly dishwashing soap.

If you have a pressure sprayer along with your faucet use it to rinse dishes and you will probably use less water.