Apr. 22nd, 2016

catherineldf: (Default)
This is an annual post that I try to remember to do in honor of Earth Day. It's an update on whatever changes we've tried to implement in the last year to reduce our ecological footprint. The ones that saved money in the long run are noted as such.

Things done prior to April, 2015 (house is gas for heat and dryer, electrical for everything else):
  • Converted most of the light bulbs to compact flourescents or LEDS as they burned out - some upfront cost but definite electrical savings
  • Had additional insulation blown in the walls in some rooms  - reduced heat bills
  • Had external windows replaced - cost a mint but better in the long run for comfort and heating. Definitely reduced our heating bill.
  • Replaced several appliances with Energy Star versions - washer and dryer most successful for reducing electricity and heat bills - upfront costs, long term gains on water, heat and electric
  • Signed up for Xcel's Windsource program - small upfront cost
  • Started composting yard waste  - small up front cost
  • Installed a water barrel in the warmer months - some water savings on bill, small upfront cost
  • Started working from home a few days out of the month to reduce commuting - small savings on gas
  • Recycle items for citywide recycling as well as donating usable items
  • A minimum of one day a month where we don't drive anywhere. More challenging, given the need to run errands, go to the nursing home, etc., but last year I spent an entire week in Denver without a car, and we both spent 5 days in Chicago on separate occasions carless/using public transportation, plus a few extra days here and there so it balanced out. Last year, I think we managed more than 1 day a month of no driving.
  • One day per week meat free. Gets shaky when we're pressed for time but usually manage a couple of days a week with only one serving of meat. Lots of local fruits and veggies and related products, particularly in the summer - we buy organic from the farmer's markets and co-ops, etc.
  • Ongoing support for green businesses, everything from solar-powered and organic to reused and recycled stuff to green cleaning to bike-delivered tacos.
  • Put Esse Reusable Bags CarryAll Totes in each car. Small upfront cost and vastly reduced plastic bag usage.
After April, 2015 -
  • All of the above still in effect
  • Had a solar fan installed in the attic to even out the house temperature and humidity - upfront cost, too new to know how effective it will be but is supposed to reduce electric and heat bills
  • Signed up for Minneapolis' new compost program - between the no sort recycling and the compost program, we've reduced our trash by at least a third
  • Tried to get in the drawing for MN Solar but didn't get the tax rebate. Planning on insulating and redoing the attic instead. Our gas bills are much higher than our electric (though still below average) so this seems like a better move. Upfront costs but should pay off in the long run.
  • Redid back stairwell in marmoleum for less off gassing - prettier stairwell and sealed off ancient, scary linoleum, so a good thing, but with upfront costs and no direct payoff other than adding to house value
  • Put out a bird bath and new bird feeders in the back yard. Makes us very popular - some upfront cost
  • Had the front yard landscaped - less watering and more bee-friendly plants, cost was substantial but adds to house value, plus other benefits
  • Started doing carbon offsets for trips by donating to MN Tree Trust and The Nature Conservancy. I can't do huge amounts at a time, so this tends to be a series of small donations. I'm building it into our trip budgets to make sure we can keep doing it.
  • Switched most of our grocery shopping to the new co-op near us - less driving, supports fair wages in an area that was a food desert. And, despite our initial concerns, proving less expensive than the main co-op in a more affluent neighborhood.
  • Replaced the coffee maker with a more efficient one that uses less power, water and coffee. Upfront cost: about $100, but will pay for itself.
  • Hired Two Bettys Green Cleaning for once a month house cleaning. Local women-owned company that hires artists, writers and musicians for a fair wage and benefits, uses all organic cleaning options. Upfront cost is pretty reasonable, especially given the payoff for my sanity.
  • Also looking into for this year: Roman shades for insulation, water efficient sink and toilet.
Onward and upward! And open to suggestions, apart from going car-free which is not a possibility at this time.

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