by Shelley Weinreb
Marketing Coordinator for CHAI: Comprehensive Housing Assistance, Inc.
I drive a stick shift. When people ask me why, I tell them I remember waiting for hours in the gas lines of the 70’s, during which I vowed to switch to a manual to save on mileage. Those were the early days of ‘green’ when you read books like “Silent Spring,” protested against DDT and talked about saving the environment and the whales. Back then, ‘climate change’ was a description of Baltimore’s weather. We worried more about ecology than the economy. And green was cool.
Four decades later, green is not only still cool, it’s red hot. But from my standpoint now, saving money on next month’s utility bill looms larger in immediate importance than my global concerns. Which is why, in many ways, I’m greener today than I was in high school.
The Color of Money
Now more than ever, green makes sense. (Or should I say…cents.) And our community offers many excellent resources to help us reap the savings. Here are a dozen things you can do to begin reducing your energy expenses:
1. Sign up for a free Quick Home Energy Check. If you’re a BGE customer, you can call 1-877-685-7377 to schedule an appointment for a Check-Up professional to perform a free, one-hour walk-through of your home to show how you can save money by reducing the amount of energy you use. For details, bgesmartenergy.com/residential/quick-home-energy-check.
2. Lower your thermostat a few degrees in the winter and a few degrees higher in the summer to save on heating and cooling costs.
3. Switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) when your incandescent bulbs burn out.
4. Unplug appliances when not in use. Or, use a “smart” power strip that senses when appliances are off and cuts “phantom” or “vampire” energy use.
5. Choose the cold water setting to wash clothes. Heating the water uses as much as 85 percent of the energy used to machine-wash clothes.
6. Reduce water consumption by taking shorter showers. This will lower your water and heating bills, too.
7. Install a low-flow showerhead. You’ll quickly pay back your investment (and more) in water and energy savings.
8. Put a faucet aerator on each faucet. For very little money, you can conserve heat and water, while keeping water pressure high.
9. Buy an affordable, fuel efficient car. Do you know your car’s mpg rating? With gas approaching $4 a gallon and more, it really pays to get the most out of your gas tank.
10. Sign up for a free water audit from Blue Water Baltimore. Visit bluewaterbaltimore.org to take advantage of this free analysis. For more information, contact 410-254-1577 x106 or http://firstname.lastname@example.org.
11. Carpool. Share the ride…share the savings…ease traffic…reduce emissions.
12. Weatherize your home with CHAI’s help. Did you know CHAI offers weatherization improvements and services to help organizations and homeowners save money and energy…from upgrading insulation to cleaning HVAC systems? Call 410-500-5303 for more information or to schedule an appointment. Plus, CHAI has recently been awarded a grant from the Maryland Public Service Commission to provide low-interest ‘Energy Home Improvement’ loans to homeowners in the five northwest Baltimore City neighborhoods of Glen, Fallstaff, Cross Country, Cheswolde and Mt. Washington. CHAI hopes to open the program to the public by July 1, 2013. Call 410-466-1990 for details.
As you can see, there are many ways and resources available to add green to our lives, perhaps because we need them now more than ever. Best of all, they work on a micro and a macro level at the same time…helping both our wallet and our world.
It’s nice to know we’re still green after all these years.