Tips on Sustainability: What you can do at home or work to save the environment


  1. Carry your own personal water container, and refill it rather than buying plastic bottles of water. Buy a water filter, and refill from the tap.
  2. Carry your own coffee mug to the coffee house.
  3. Transport groceries via your own refillable canvas bags instead of using either paper or plastic bags.
  4. Re-use the plastic grocery bags you have. There are a million uses for them, from picking up pet droppings to re-using as trash bags in the car or home.
  5. Skip eating meat for two days this week.
  6. Become more educated, make smarter choices and get involved in the fight against pollution and global warming. Be an ambassador.

    At Home

  1. Turn off your lights and appliances when you don’t need them.
  2. Consider three-way lamps; they make it easier to keep lighting levels low when brighter light isn’t necessary.
  3. Dry your clothes using a clothesline instead of running your dryer.
  4. Periodically inspect your dryer vent to ensure it is not blocked. This will save energy and may prevent a fire.
  5. Close fireplace dampers when not in use. A chimney is designed for smoke to escape, so until you close it, warm air escapes.
  6. Use cold water in your washing machine.
  7. Air-dry dishes instead of using your dishwasher’s heat cycle.
  8. Wash only full loads in your washing machine and dishwasher.
  9. Change at least three of your household light bulbs to compact fluorescent light bulbs.
  10. Clean your refrigerator coils to help your fridge breathe easier and require less energy.
  11. Cut down on the number of catalogs jamming your mailbox.
    See for ways to remove yourself from mailing lists.
  12. Knock two minutes off your shower time, and use a timer to stay honest.
  13. Install low-flow showerheads and low-flow toilets.
  14. Look for the Energy Star label on appliances and products. Energy Star appliances meet strict efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy.
  15. Ask the energy company to advise you on you home’s energy efficiency.
  16. Check the insulation levels in your attic, crawl spaces, ceilings, floors and exterior walls. Visit for instructions on checking your insulation.
  17. Check for holes or cracks around your walls, ceilings, windows, doors, light and plumbing fixtures, switches and electrical outlets that can leak energy out of your home.
  18. Make sure your appliances and heating and cooling systems are properly maintained. Check your owner’s manuals for the recommended maintenance schedule.
  19. Turn off kitchen, bath and other exhaust fans within 20 minutes after you are done cooking or bathing. When replacing exhaust fans, consider installing high-efficiency, low-noise models.
  20. Set your thermostat as low as comfortable in the winter and as high as is comfortable in the summer.
  21. In the winter, turn your thermostat down at night. You save 3 percent on your heading bill for every one degree you turn it down.
  22. During the winter, keep draperies and shades on your south-facing windows open during the day to let the sunlight enter your home. Close them at night to reduce the chill. Keep all south-facing glass clean.
  23. During the summer, keep the window coverings closed during the day to prevent solar gain. In the summer, you can save money by automatically turning your air conditioning up at night or when you are at work.
  24. Install white window shades, drapes or blinds to reflect heat away from the house.
  25. Clean or replace filters on furnaces once a month.
  26. Whole-house fans help cool your home by pulling cool air through the house and exhausting warm air through the attic. They are effective when operated at night and when the outside air is cooler than the inside.
  27. Consider using an interior fan in conjunction with your window air conditioner to spread the cool air more effectively, without greatly increasing your energy use.
  28. Plant trees or shrubs to shade air conditioning units but not to block airflow. Place your room air conditioner on the north side of the house. A unit operating in the shade uses as much as 10 percent less electricity than the same one operating in the sun.
  29. Visit the Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy web site,, to see if you might qualify for tax credits or rebates for buying a solar water heater.
  30. When you’re shopping for new windows, look for the National Fenestration Rating Council label; it means the window’s performance is certified.
  31. Look for windows with double-glazing and spectrally selective coatings that reduce heat gain.
  32. Keep your refrigerator temperature between 37 to 40 degrees for the fresh food compartment of the refrigerator and 5 degrees for the freezer section. If you have a separate freezer for long-term storage, it should be kept at 0 degrees.
  33. Plant trees to shade your home, reducing your cooling costs in the summer months. Typically, newly planted trees will begin shading windows in their first year and will reach your roof in years 5-10.
  34. Planting shrubs, bushes, and vines next to your house creates dead air spaces that insulate your home in both winter and summer. Plant so there will be at least 1 foot (30 centimeters) of space between full-grown plants and your home’s wall.
  35. During winter, dense, low-lying trees and shrubbery on the north and northeast sides of your home can help protect your home against wind chill.
  36. If you are able to, avoid the need for paint whenever you can. Use other materials, such as natural brick or wood paneling. If you must paint, shop around for zero VOC paints, study material safety data sheets, and investigate the ingredients. One database for looking up chemicals commonly used in household products is

    In the Car

  1. Drive sensibly. Avoid speeding, rapid acceleration and braking.
  2. Add air to the tires of your car so they’re properly inflated.
  3. Avoid idling. Turn off your car whenever possible.
  4. Replace clogged air filters to improve gas mileage by as much as 10 percent and protect your engine.
  5. Get regular engine tune-ups and car maintenance checks to avoid fuel economy problems due to worn spark plugs, dragging brakes, low transmission fluid, or transmission problems.
  6. Consider buying a highly fuel-efficient vehicle. A fuelefficient vehicle, a hybrid vehicle, or an alternative fuel vehicle could save you a lot at the gas pump and help the environment.
  7. Combine errands into one trip. Several short trips, each one taken from a cold start, can use twice as much fuel as one trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm.
  8. Using cruise control on the highway helps you maintain a constant speed and, in most cases, will save gas.
  9. Avoid high speeds. Above 60 mph, gas mileage drops rapidly. The web site shows how driving speed affects gas mileage.

    At the Office

  1. Unplug your computer every night. Unless it’s unplugged, your idle PC still uses electricity.
  2. Avoid printing out documents that easily can be read and filed electronically.
  3. Use both sides of each piece of paper prior to recycling.
  4. Use task lighting. Instead of brightly lighting an entire room, focus the light where you need it.
  5. Use the grade of motor oil recommended by your car's manufacturer. Using a different motor oil can lower your gasoline mileage by 1-2 percent.
  6. Pick just one day this week and ride your bike, carpool, or leave your car at home.
  7. Check into telecommuting, carpooling and public transit to cut mileage and car maintenance costs.

Do you have tips to save the environment?
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Do you have tips to save the environment?
Share your suggestions »