Tips

Small Steps Can Go a Long Way

By Lina Younes

For many years, I’ve tried to encourage my family to save energy and save water. There are simple steps we all can take at home, in the workplace, or in our communities that can go a long way towards protecting our health and the environment.

For example, what’s one of the easiest ways to save energy at home? Turn off the lights when you leave the room! How many times do we leave the lights on in one room for hours unnecessarily? Perhaps more often than we think! Another way to save energy in lighting overall is to change incandescent light bulbs in your home to one of the newer compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). The traditional incandescent light was invented by Thomas Edison 125 years ago and produces 90% more heat than the energy-efficient CFLs. The newer CFLs use ¼ of the energy used by incandescent lights and also last up to 10 times longer than incandescent light bulbs. Furthermore, every CFL can prevent more than 400 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions from going to the environment over the lifetime of the CFL. So, by changing one light bulb to a CFL can help you save money and energy.

Another area where a little effort can go a long way is water conservation in the home. More than 50 percent of water consumption in the home takes place in the bathroom. How can we save water without investing in any special equipment? Don’t leave the water running while you are brushing your teeth or shaving! Take short showers instead of taking tub baths.

Environmental protection is everyone’s responsibility. Have other environmental tips to share with us? We would love to hear from you.

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and currently serves as Acting Associate Director for Environmental Education. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Saving Gas and the Environment

About the author: Rob Lawrence joined EPA in 1990 and is Senior Policy Advisor on Energy Issues in the Dallas, TX regional office. As an economist, he works to insure that both supply and demand components are addressed as the Region develops its Clean Energy and Climate Change Strategy.

At a recent neighborhood block party (Happy 2nd Birthday Skylar!), when a new neighbor found out that I am the Energy Advisor in the Dallas regional office for EPA, she asked, “What can I do to save gas this summer?” I imagine that is a popular concern with a lot of folks today. It is hard to keep track of the fuel prices when they are changing so rapidly, including several times a week.

Here are some basic “best practices” to reduce your gas usage as well as the vehicle emissions that contribute to ozone problems and climate change. You may have seen some of the tips elsewhere, but I can attest that putting them consistently into action will benefit your financial as well as environmental well-being.

It may sound simplistic, but reducing the amount you drive each week is a major step. Take advantage of local non-driving options like walking or biking for short distance trips or increase your use mass transit or neighborhood carpooling. A couple of things that I have done include using the most efficient vehicle in our household whenever possible. It only takes a small effort to organize trips to eliminate multiple individual trips. For example, last weekend I was able to plan my Saturday errands in a circuit (home improvement store, pet supply warehouse, dry cleaners and grocery) so that I moved from place to place rather than making multiple trips over the same part of town.

How you drive can impact your efficiency too. Maintaining your car or truck by getting the engine tuned-up on schedule, replacing the air filter, and checking the pressure in your tires are good practices. Personally, unloading excess weight like those boxes of charity donations (not the spare tire or needed safety equipment) from the trunk was helpful in improving my mileage. Finally, watching your speed will greatly enhance your efficiency and ensure that you arrive safely.

It is all about reducing the number of miles you travel and then watching how you drive when it is necessary. For more tips, check out the EPA Office of Transportation and Air Quality Web site.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.