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Conservation keys: What really matters

Laura Williams, M.S.Ed. is a personal trainer, freelance writer and entrepreneur who works with a wide variety of fitness clients. She's the founder of the popular website, - Girls Gone Sporty, and she's the host of the High Impact Blogg...

Make the clear conservation choices

Conservation is all about protecting natural resources and reducing energy usage to enhance overall sustainability. The fact is, everyone can take part in conservation, but not everyone can conserve in the same ways. What really matters is that you do your best to take the steps you can, understanding that some steps conserve more energy than others. Check out this breakdown of key conservation areas and what you can do to conserve more effectively.

setting a digital thermostat

Conserving at home

Heating and cooling

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the average American household uses approximately 43 percent of its total energy costs to heat and cool the home. To conserve energy most effectively, take steps to help maintain a stable, comfortable temperature without using more energy:

  • Install a programmable thermostat that automatically lowers the temperature at night and during your work hours.
  • Seal windows and doors to prevent leakage of heated or cooled air.
  • Clean your air ducts and furnace system regularly.
  • Add insulation to your walls and ceiling.

Water heaters

Heating water seems so simple, but most households spend 12 percent of their energy costs on this one single factor. Conserve energy by:

  • Lowering the setting on your water heater to a maximum of 120 degrees F (most automatically default to 140 degrees F).
  • Shortening your showers.
  • Washing your laundry in cold rather than hot or warm water.
  • Replacing your old hot water heater with a new, Energy-Star solution.

Other simple solutions

There are lots of ways to conserve energy, and every little bit really does count. Consider these additional, simple solutions that really do make a difference:

  • Use your dishwasher and avoid pre-rinsing dishes. Run the dishwasher only when you have a complete load.
  • Likewise, run your washing machine only when you have a full load.
  • Replace incandescent light bulbs with CFL or LED lights.
  • Use rechargeable batteries instead of disposable ones.
  • Eat off real dishes, and use fabric linens. Stop using paper plates and disposable water bottles.
  • Unplug small appliances that aren't in use, and turn off lights and fans when you leave a room.

Sustainability made simple: Ways to start at home >>

Conserve on your commute

Gas prices are skyrocketing again, so it makes sense to make your daily commute as conservation-friendly as possible. Consider the following:

  • If you live close to work, walk or ride a bike to the office at least a few times a week.
  • Look into carpooling or public transportation as another conservation solution. It may not seem as handy, but you'd be surprised how quickly you can adapt to the new system.
  • Do some research to see if investing in a hybrid or electric-only car is a viable alternative to your gas-guzzler. You may have to spend some money up front, but the investment may pay off in the long run.
  • If you include a pit stop at a coffee shop or fast food joint every day, make it a point to carry your own travel mug and silverware with you. This way, you won't be throwing away disposable mugs or plastic utensils every day. Same thing goes for water: Carry a reusable water bottle with you wherever you go.

Test your conservation smarts >>

Conserve at work

You may have limited input into conservation measures at work, but even small things can help. Try a few of the following:

  • Ask your boss if she's open to starting a conservation committee focused on making company-wide changes to foster overall sustainability.
  • Reduce your paper consumption. Avoid printing at all costs. If you have to print, reuse the paper to take notes or messages after you're done with it.
  • Turn off lights when you leave your office or the restroom.
  • Pack your lunch in a reusable lunch bag and glass containers.

How sustainable is your lifestyle? >>

More about conservation

Ways to conserve in the laundry room
Sustainability made simple: Ways to start at home
Plan a complete home energy makeover

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