Conservation tips -- save money and be eco-friendly!

There are a number of ways you can practice conservation without investing in expensive energy-efficient appliances, buying mercury-containing fluorescent lights, or investing in very expensive solar panels. Reducing your consumption of electricity, gas or other fuel, and water will also save you money! In fact, many of these are great ideas if it is the money you need to conserve. With more and more Americans facing eviction and foreclosure, saving on utilities can help people stay in their homes longer.
  • During winter, instead of heating your home to to optimal comfort level, try putting on a sweater, piling blankets on your bedding, and turning down the heat. Socks and slippers are helpful for keeping your feet warm. Overnight and when no one is in the house, leave the heat on only high enough to prevent the pipes from freezing. If ordinary blankets are insufficient overnight, or if you can't afford a nice comforter, consider purchasing a mylar space blanket. Although it may depend on the design and locations of the pipes and the locations of your heaters, as a general rule, you can probably turn the heat down to 55 degrees without risking burst pipes.
  • In the event you are going out of town, or really can't afford to heat your home, prevent pipes from bursting by draining them. This involves shutting off the main pipe to the home, then turning on all faucets to let water drain until sufficiently empty. Then you can turn off the heat.
  • Curtains, or, if you cannot afford curtains, blankets hung over your windows can help improve insulation. A visible air leak, e.g. at the bottom of a poorly fitted door, might be stuffed with tissue paper or covered with something, like the edge of a rug.
  • If your home does not have central heating, focus your heating on the areas of your home where you are living or where there are water pipes. If there is a room you don't use much, which has no water pipes running through or near it, shut the door and don't bother to heat it much. If you do not have a door, consider hanging up a blanket or curtain where the door would go.
  • During summer, do not air condition the house to optimal comfort level. In fact, if you are very tight on money, you probably shouldn't air condition at all, unless you live in a very hot dry place like Phoenix, Arizona. Even in Santa Fe, New Mexico, many people are not able to afford air conditioning but manage to get by anyway. To reduce your need for air conditioning, consider using curtains or blinds to control the entrance of sunlight. If you can't afford curtains, you could hang up a spare blanket instead. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and consuming sufficient salt. Splash water on yourself to cool down as necessary. If you are not using air conditioning, consider opening windows to allow a breeze in. Make sure all heaters are fully off. Even a pilot light can quite noticeably increase the temperature of a room. Cook less with the oven and more with the stove. Computers, particularly more modern ones, can generate a lot of heat, so turn off computers when not in use.
  • Keep the water heater off most of the time. Only turn it on right before shower time, or on cleaning day.
  • Computers use a lot of electricity. Turn off computers when not in use, or at least overnight.
  • Appliances and consume vampire electricity even when not being used. Unplug appliances when not in use, or at least overnight. Some people may even be able to unplug their stove/oven unit. Obviously, avoid unplugging appliances that always need to be on, like the phone or refrigerator.
  • In the event you no longer have electricity, and thus cannot run a refrigerator, buy only food that does not require refrigeration. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables right away.
  • Turn off lights when not in use. Really. There is no need for the lights to be on if no one is in the room. During the day, read books near windows to take advantage of natural light.
  • During the summer, if you live in a sufficiently dry climate, you may be able to air dry your clothing. However, if it is too cold or the humidity is too high, this could lead to mildew.
  • To avoid having to iron clothing, pull them out of the dryer right away and hang or fold them.
  • Forgo unnecessary energy consumption like blow dryers. Use a towel and then air dry your hair.
  • If you have a dish washer, allow your dishes to air dry anyway. Do not use any high heat drying functionality.
  • With regards to water, take brief showers. Avoid the use of sprinklers on your lawn. Do not leave the faucet running unattended. If you have an dish washer and/or clothing washer, only run them at full load.
  • To avoid polluting your community's water, use non-toxic cleaning products. On your laundry, use baking soda instead of detergent and distilled white vinegar instead of fabric softener. (Baking soda is not safe to use on wool or silk, but then, neither is detergent.) Also use baking soda on your dishes instead of soap. Choose lower toxicity, paraben free, sulfate free shampoos and conditioners, or, if you cannot afford those, reduce your use of shampoo and conditioner. The lowest toxicity soap you can use on your hair is castile soap, unscented or scented only with essential oils rather than petrochemical fragrance. A good brand is Dr. Bronner's. People who cannot tolerate any soap may be able to tolerate using apple cider vinegar on their hair. Use baking soda and vinegar for around the house cleaning projects. Avoid unnecessary toxic cosmetics like perfume, hair gel, and make-up.
Using these tips will help reduce your environmental impact and save you money at the same time. It may even help you afford to pay your rent or mortgage a little longer! You might save enough money to be able to afford to buy green electricity. Many electric companies, like New Mexico's PNM, allow you the option of purchasing some percentage of clean electricity, such as wind, solar, or geothermal. In deregulated markets, such as most of Maryland, you may be able to choose an electric who will sell you green electricity, although it will still be delivered by your local utility company. If you live in the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can help you find green power options in your state.

The use of coal, oil, and natural gas as energy sources, whether converted into electricity or burned in the home, not only contributes to climate change but also results in air and water pollution in your local community, causing people in the area to experience asthma, heart problems, etc., and even causing people to die! Additionally, the process by which coal, oil, and natural gas, especially hydraulic fracturing, causes even more dangerous pollution, human suffering, and death. As recent events in Japan have shown, nuclear is also very dangerous.