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More Ecofriendly Tips

The Martha Stewart Show, October 2006

Follow these extra ecofriendly tips to save the environment -- and money.

-Unplug any unused electronic chargers or equipment. Energy saps through the cord if your cell-phone charger, curling iron, coffeemaker, or other electric items are plugged in -- even when you're not using them. About 5 percent of the power drawn by cell-phone chargers is actually used to charge your phone. The other 95 percent is wasted when you leave it solely plugged in to the wall and not your phone. Consolidate your chargers for cell phones and other devices on one power strip so that you can turn the power strip off when devices are not being used.

-Fill your refrigerator to capacity. It will stay colder and run more efficiently, ultimately saving you money.

-Help the environment and decrease paper clutter in your home by reducing the amount of junk mail you receive. Visit the websites of companies that send you junk mail, or call their customer service departments to remove yourself from their mailing lists.

-Don't prerinse dishes before placing them in the dishwasher. By skipping this step, you'll reduce water usage while saving money.

-In one year the average American family flushes 8,760 gallons of water down its toilets (26,000 gallons if using outdated toilets). To save water, fill a one-liter bottle with water, and place it in your toilet tank. This way, you'll use one liter less each time you flush! By saving this one liter with every flush, each family can save 1,447 gallons of water per year.

-Buy fresh. Not only do we all know that it's better for your insides, but it may help the environment, too. It takes up to 10 times more energy to produce frozen foods than fresh foods. Think about it this way: Your frozen enchiladas not only zap power at production time but they're transported longer distances in a refrigerated truck, placed in a supermarket freezer, and then thawed in your microwave.

-More fuel is spilled while refueling lawn equipment each year than was spilled by the Exxon Valdez. Why not use a hand mower to trim your lawn? Not only will it give you some exercise but you'll help the environment. Each weekend, 54 million Americans mow their lawns, using an estimated 800 million gallons of gas per year.

-Plant a tree in your yard, and save money! Lower cooling costs in the summer by 10 to 50 percent by planting hardwood trees on the east, west and south sides of your house.

-If you lower your room temperatures by two degrees in winter and raise them by three degrees in summer, you'll prevent the emission of nearly 700 pounds of carbon dioxide every year.

-Turn off those sprinklers. Turf grass is the largest irrigated crop in America. About 8 billion gallons of water a day are devoted to lawn and landscape irrigation.

-Plug leaks. Gaps between windows and doors may be small, but they can collectively add up to big energy losses. Plugging these leaks with caulk or other materials is the first action homeowners should take in combating high heating-fuel costs. By sealing leaks and installing proper insulation (especially in the attic and in crawl spaces), you can reduce energy costs by $70 to $460 per year.

-What's better, using the air conditioner in your car or driving with the windows down? The answer is both. To save on fuel, turn off the air conditioner and roll down your windows when you're traveling at less than 55 mph. If you're traveling at highway speeds, you're better off using the air conditioner.