Green Piece

Simple Shifts, BIG Results

    It's that time of year again. You know what I am talking about. Mention the words New Year and one word springs to mind... Resolutions. Fresh Year, Fresh Start. Sadly, we tend to overwhelm ourselves taking on too much, too fast and we set ourselves up for failure. The amusing thing is, on the green front, it only takes little changes to make a huge difference in our planet's longevity. In 2009 you can make some simple adjustments in how you use energy and various resources and you will be wowed at the difference it will make in environmental conservation. And it just may save you a few pennies along the way!
    If you were to lower the temperature on your water heater just ONE degree, you would save enough energy to power 212 hours of light for reading. If 1,000 people were to follow your example, enough energy would be saved to power a local school for five school days. Now, let's face it. If you were to stand outside and the temperature would happen to nose-dive from 72 to 71 degrees, chances are you probably wouldn't even be able to perceive the drop in temperature. Lowering that water heater by such a miniscule amount would maybe deprive you of a minute or two of hot water, true, but look at the payoff.
    Let's try another one. If you were to skip using the blow dryer six days a month, you would save enough energy to provide power for all of Alaska for an hour. First of all, blow drying is tough on your hair. So, skipping a few days here and there would actually be a boon to your lovely locks. Also, it takes a lot less than an hour to dry your hair. Fifteen minutes tops. And we are just talking about your head of hair. Not 20 or even 5 heads of hair. Yet, when you put the kabosh on the blow-dry a few days a month an ENTIRE STATE can be powered for an hour. Kinda puts it in perspective, doesn't it?
    We live in a climate that is mild year round. Our island is jam-packed full of bike trails that can pretty much get you anywhere on our 12 by 4 mile plot of paradise. In 2009 you will see the release of some spectacular new electric bicycles. These are bikes that can function like any standard bike or you can kick on the electric power assist and you suddenly have a tailwind at your back and are cruising along with little effort. These two wheeled wonders are perfect for those commutes where you want to get a little exercise but don't want to arrive sweaty and winded at your destination. E-bikes are an investment but the return is huge. They can range in price from $700 to $13,000 but they can speed up to 30 miles per hour and for approximately 15 cents you can travel up to 50 miles. Energy efficient, quiet, and a blast to ride. Perfect for getting about the island and preserving it at the same time.
    LED light bulbs are absolutely a bright spot in a green world. In 2009 we will see an increase in these amazing bulbs versatility. From Christmas lights to standard floor and table lamps LED provide clear, beautiful light with a fraction of the energy use. For example, an standard size LED bulb can provide the equivalent illumination of a 60 watt bulb but only uses 7 watts of energy. LED bulbs also last about 50,000 hours. In other words, an LED light will last for over six years of continuous use. There has been a huge outcry over the change-over from standard bulbs to the energy efficient albeit mercury infused compact flourescent bulbs. LED bulbs have no mercury content so they require no special disposal methods. At the moment, LED bulbs are expensive, but in '09 we will start to see a drop in price as the technology becomes standardized. I recommend using LED bulbs in the fixtures that you have on every day for longer periods of time.  You will notice a drop in your energy bill and will only have to go light bulb shopping every ten years or so.
    Whether it is a baby step or an dedicated investment in the future of our eco-system one thing is for sure: 2009 offers inspiration and opportunity. Inspiration in the global support of greening up our lifestyles and opportunity in the green market providing goods and services that focus on the well-being of our planet. I bet you never thought a resolution could be so resounding. Happy New Year, Happy New Planet!

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