Here are some Green Tips from the Temple Aliyah newsletter. For the energy saving veterans of GreenNeedham many will be obvious and old hat but for novices they are a place to start or add. I plan to add to them on a regular basis and welcome your feedback and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org, as well as additions:
Heat or cool only the rooms you use:
Is someone home during the day? If so, do you find yourself spending most of your time in one room? If so, buy a space heater (for the winter) and a fan (for the summer) for that room and turn the heat or air conditioning in the rest of the house down until others get home. You will be surprised how much warmer or cooler a single room unit can make the room you use most, and you will save lots of energy and money by having the entire house a few degrees cooler in the winter or warmer in the summer. Also, close or cover any vents in rooms you rarely use. Any heating or cooling energy that goes into those rooms is wasted.
Plant trees to offset carbon production:
Spring is the perfect time to plant some trees. If you missed the opportunity at Tu B’ishvat or when the Carmel Forest near Haifa experienced the horrendous fires, plant some trees now, either in your back yard or in Israel, and renew the environment. There are many options for planting trees in Israel such as the jnf site.
Buy smaller numbers of bigger packages:
When it comes to recycling, Bigger IS almost always Better. Bigger packages are more efficient to manufacture and their packaging uses substantially less material and energy per pound or gallon than small packages. In most cases, bigger is also less expensive per unit to buy. Labels at grocery and other stores usually show the cost per pound as well as the cost per package so you can see the savings for yourself. Unless an item is perishable and might have to be thrown out before it is completely used, consider investing in larger packages even if they are less convenient to handle or store. You can often put a portion of a large package into smaller reusable containers before use.
Research the most energy efficient appliances:
TopTen USA is a new nonprofit which makes it easy for consumers to find and buy the MOST energy-efficient appliances, electronics, and vehicles on the market. Independent research shows that, on average, the ten MOST efficient products use half the energy of models that just meet the ENERGY STAR standard. For the same brands, same prices, same features, but much less energy consumption, check out toptenusa.org.
Start a Green Committee at your office or social organization:
Spread the word. If the businesses or organizations you belong to don’t have Green Committees or active recycling programs, it’s time to get them started. Send an open invitation to a Brown Bag lunch to start a Green initiative and you might be pleasantly surprised by how many people will show up and how many ideas people already have. And if your organizations do have green committees, are you involved? You can also share the Temple Aliyah Green Tips with others and ask them to share their successes with you. Working together we have a greater impact than working alone.
Reusing is the simplest form of recycling:
Glass jars are better than tupperware or plastic for storing leftovers, especially for foods with tomato sauce or other things that can stain plastic. Put them in the dish-washing machine rather than the trash.
. Reusable shopping bags can handle more weight than paper or plastic. Roche Brothers and Sudbury Farms pay you 5 cents for each bag you bring in (you can ask them to donate the 5 cents to charity if you prefer) and Trader Joe’s enters you in a raffle.
. Plastic bags from the grocery store make terrific trash can liners and can be emptied and reused rather than thrown out.
. Copier paper has 2 sides. As long as the paper is not wrinkled you can print drafts on the backside of previously printed paper.
It all adds up to saving money and the environment.
Any aluminum and steel products can be recycled:
Hershey’s kiss wrappers and other aluminum products are recyclable and aluminum typically gets recycled and reused within 60 days (Hershey’s uses 133 square miles of aluminum per day to wrap their kisses). Manufacturing aluminum products from virgin metal consumes close to 100 times the power required to recycle aluminum. Steel can also be recycled completely which saves tons of iron ore, coal, and energy. Therefore, it is very important to recycle any and all steel and aluminum products, repeatedly. Here are all the items that can be recycled at the Needham RTS.
Give public transportation a try:
The weather outside is frightful but the train is quite delightful. Try one of the many public transportation options that make Newton, Needham and Wellesley ideal places to live. The trains and busses are running anyway so riding them uses no incremental energy other than a short trip to the station. You will even save on parking and gain valuable time to work or relax on the ride to and from work. Go to www.mbta.com for all the schedules.
Worldwide meat production releases more greenhouse gas emissions than the entire transportation sector combined (Source: UN Environment Program). Start small by eliminating meat one day per week, or challenge yourself by taking a week-long vegetarian pledge. See www.meatlessmonday.org or www.vegetariantimes.com for good recipes and more information.
Seal and insulate your home:
It’s not too late for this winter. The average US home has enough air leaks to equal an open window. Sealing and insulating your home can save you up to 20% on heating and cooling costs, and upwards of 10% on your total energy bill (Energy Star). Find an experienced certified contractor, or follow Energy Star’s do-it-yourself guide to sealing and insulating.
Turn off your engine rather than idling:
Here’s a simple way to reduce carbon emissions and save money; turn your engine off while waiting in a pick up line or any time you expect to be stationary for a minute or more. Better yet, start or join a car pool. You can also check out the many new electric and hybrid cars. When idling or stopped many of these cars shut off their gas engines which is a major source of their fuel efficiency.
Reduce the amount you print:
By switching to electronic distribution of “Coming Up” the temple reduced its paper consumption by about 75 reams per year which translates into saving 4 to 5 trees. You can print less, when you must print, by changing the font size or by using the “Print Preview” box to print multiple pages per sheet, print 2 sided (if your printer allows), only print the pages you need from larger documents or just scale down your documents so they require less pages. You will also use less ink which saves more money.
Schedule an energy audit:
This year the temple arranged two energy audits from NSTAR as well as a walk through with a local engineer. These energy audits identify areas where heat and energy is being lost and ways to reduce the loss, as well as opportunities to save money with newer, energy efficient light bulbs, appliances, thermostats and more. Schedule an energy audit today or look on the web for ways to conduct your own audit. It’s sure to be worth the time and effort.
Here are the descriptions and links for the full list of vendors at the Temple Aliyah Energy Fair, January 9th 2011.