Shel Horowitz has been advocating living simply for decades. His family is a member of a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm, have an organic garden of their own, have taken many steps to reduce their waste, and have solarized their 247-year-old New England farmhouse.
With it turning colder, Shel granted me permission to quote from his e-book, Painless Green: 11 Tips to Help the Environment, Lower Your Carbon Footprint, Cut Your Budget, & Improve Your Quality of Life – With No Negative Impact on Your Lifestyle (www.painlessgreenbook.com).
Here are the first ten tips from Shel’s book on how to save money and energy on heating, cooling, and lighting:
1. Get an energy audit from your local electric company. Power companies are under instructions to encourage conservation, so they typically do energy audits for free or for a $10 or $20 fee.
2. Often, energy auditors will supply you with all sorts of goodies that you’d otherwise have to buy: pipe wrap, outlet insulators, hot water heater blankets, and so forth.
3. If you have to mix cold water in to make your hot water usable, turn down the temperature setting until it comes out just right.
4. Put your hand over an electrical outlet on an outside wall on a cold night and you’ll feel the rush of frigid air! Insulate your electrical outlets and phone jacks on outside walls. If your energy auditor didn’t give them to you, most hardware stores sell inexpensive foam outlet and phone jack insulation pads; just unscrew the face plate, slip the foam pad on, and put the face plate back.
5. If you’re not using exterior-wall outlets, slip in outlet protectors. You’ll find these in the child safety section of your hardware store, and they block a lot of heat loss.
6. Put a Y-jack (line splitter plug) into phone jacks on outside walls; these will block most of the heat loss.
7. Caulk your windows. A $3 to $5 box of Mortite or similar rope caulk will probably last two or three years—even longer if, come spring when you remove the caulk, you store it in an airtight plastic bag for reuse. Any place you feel a draft, fill the crack with rope caulk.
8. If a window is still really drafty after caulking, cover it from the inside with a single sheet of clear plastic, taped into place with clear tape.
9. Insulate your hot water pipes. You’ll save both water and energy costs, as you won’t need to run the water a long time to get it hot.
10. Insulate metal heating/air conditioning ducts.
Shel’s book contains twenty-one more tips on how to save money and energy on heating, cooling, and lighting, plus tips on topics like lowering your carbon footprint for cooking, slashing your water consumption, and having a greener yard and garden.