Going Green without making Sacrifices

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Most of us are aware that we are destroying our planet but we are not ready to make painful sacrifices and radically change our lifestyles. This is bad news for the planet, ourselves, and our future generations. The good news is that YOU CAN MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE without a lot of effort and without making sacrifices.

Save Electricity
The easiest way to go green is to save electricity. This is extremely easy to do and will save you some money. First of all get in the habit of switching off the lights, appliances, and other electronic devices when you are not using them. Also remember to switch off the lights and your computer in your office when leaving work.

Second. Switch to more energy efficient light bulbs. A typical incandescent light bulb (ones that gives a yellowish light) converts only 5% of the electricity to light, the rest is wasted as heat. Such bulbs last around 1000 – 1400 hours. An energy efficient bulb such as CFL or CCFL also known as energy savers in many countries, converts 35% of the electricity to light and the rest is wasted as heat. A 15W CFL is approximately equivalent to a 60W incandescent bulb in terms of light generation. In addition, CFL and CCFL last around 10000 hours. Energy efficient bulbs are more expensive but you recover their cost within months and they are several times cheaper over their lifetime. All this depends on the cost of electricity in your area.

Old appliances are generally not as energy efficient as newer ones. Today, you can find highly energy efficient appliances as well as energy-wasting appliances. When it comes time for you to change your appliances, pay special attention to energy conservation. It would pay handsome dividends in terms of energy savings in the future.

Did you know that if you have a cell phone charger plugged in an outlet but not connected to your cell phone, it still consumes electricity? So do most electronic devices. According to US Department of Energy, such consumption accounts for 10 – 12% of your monthly electricity bill. A simple solution is to connect every electronic device to a power strip and simply switch it off when you are not using those electronic devices. Think about it. What can you buy with 10% of your yearly electricity bill?

Most of the electricity used today is generated by burning fossil fuels following by hydro and nuclear power. Wind and solar energy account for less than 1% of global energy production. This means that when you save electricity, less fossil fuel is burnt which means less pollution.

Save on Heating and Cooling
It takes a lot of energy to change the temperature of air and water. Since cooling and heating require a lot of energy, it makes sense to save on your heating and cooling costs. There are two three ways to save:

  1. Reduce Consumption. Reducing consumption is as simple as turning down the heat and air conditioner when you are not home. You could use a programmable thermostat which could be programmed around your lifestyle so that the adjustments occur automatically.
  2. Insulate your house. If your house is not insulated properly, you are losing lots of heat in winter and lots of cooling in the summer. In addition, you are reducing the life of your heating and cooling systems by overworking them. It pays to have your house properly insulated. Pay special attention to the attic, basement, doors, and windows. This is where you lose most of the heating and cooling.
  3. Use sun’s heat. Even on a cold sunny winter day, the sun can warm up your house thanks to the greenhouse effect. Get as much sunlight as you can in the house in winter and as little as possible in the summer. Solar panels are expensive but solar collectors are relatively cheap. They could be used to heat your water.

Conserve Water
Fresh water is rare and a precious commodity. We generally do not value water because our modern civil infrastructure makes it easily available to us. Only 2% of the planet’s water is fresh water, half of which is in Canada. The other 98% is useless for drinking, cleaning, irrigation, and industrial use. Water purification, transportation, heating, and sewerage treatment is expensive and extremely energy intensive. So every liter of water wasted is also energy wasted. When we supply water to our cities, industries, and farms, we divert it from forests and wildlife. In other words, we reduce the planet’s ability to clean up our mess. Wasting water = polluting the planet. Conserve water. Use only what you need to and no more.

An expensive mistake people often make when buying a vehicle is that they don’t factor in the cost of ownership i.e. mileage, maintenance, insurance. When you factor in all three, you would realize that small and mid-size vehicles are generally the winners. SUVs are the biggest losers.

Hybrids are more expensive than non-hybrid vehicles but they pay for themselves in about 20,000 – 25,000 miles (32,000 - 40,000 km). After that you will keep on getting 50% savings on your fuel. Vehicles that run on biofuels, CNG, and propane are also good option if such choices are widely available in your area.

Car pooling and using public transport would be greatly appreciated by the planet but many people are not willing to sacrifice the liberty of driving a car even if it involves getting stuck in the traffic twice a day.

If you haven’t realized this by now, the price of oil will not go down to the levels of the 1990s in our lifetimes. We would be filling our cars with expensive fuel so better mileage will remain desirable.

Reduce Waste and use Recycled Goods
Waste needs to be sorted, transported, processed, recycled, and dumped in a landfill. And yes it also requires lots of energy. Think about how you can reduce waste. Whenever someone decides to reduce waste, he/she find a million ways to do it. I won’t be telling anyone to use the flip side of paper or avoiding plastic bags. When you decide that you want to reduce waste, you will have a million ideas which would work better for you. Please do share your ideas with us. And yes please use recycled goods whenever possible.


  • Save electricity: switch off, change bulbs, and use energy-efficient appliances
  • Save on heating and cooling: reduce wastage, insulate, and use the sun
  • Conserve Water
  • Vehicles: Buy energy efficient and less polluting. Think about the cost of ownership.
  • Reduce waste and use recycled goods

You don’t have to kill yourself to make a difference for the environment. It doesn’t have to cost you a fortune. In fact conservation could save you more money than discount coupons, membership cards, and rewards programs. If everyone on the planet remembers to switch off and change the light bulbs, we could save at least 20% of the carbon emissions resulting from domestic electricity consumption. If everyone switches to an energy efficient vehicle, we could reduce carbon emissions from our personal vehicles by at least 25%. Think about it! Save money and the environment.

Please feel free to publish this article, free of charge, as long as this resource box is visibly published. Copyright Nazim Rahman (c) http://www.selfimprovement.ch

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I guess all of us can make a difference