Resolving to Spend Less and Use Less in 2014
If you survived the insanity of the malls and big box stores this year, first of all, congratulations. We’ve all made it through the holiday season, whether you battled your way through the crowds and emerged victorious, or, like me, simply tried to avoid too much awkward family interaction. As we come down from the Christmas high though, we start to look around and realize that the kids probably didn’t need THAT many presents, and the credit card bills are going to come due soon, as is the electricity bill for all those Christmas lights, and oh my goodness, how am I ever going to clean up this house?! It’s a hard and fast fall back to reality for many of us. But we’re also thinking ahead to the New Year and thinking about how we’re going to make it different from the last.
Today’s world is ultra-materialistic – it’s not unexpected to hear of deaths on Black Friday now, for goodness sake! We’re “consumers” in the political vernacular, no longer “citizens.” We devour natural resources at an unprecedented and unsustainable rate and sometimes it can feel like this trend is out of our control, the societal tide of consumerism subconsciously compelling us to live larger and buy more stuff than ever before, without us even realizing it. Come New Year’s Eve, many of you like me will probably be adding “Spend less money” and “Live more sustainably” onto your New Year’s Resolutions list.
This is a nice thought. But come on – have any of us actually fulfilled a New Year’s Resolution, ever? But I believe in you this time, reader, because these are two Resolutions I know you can keep. Though they may seem big and lofty, they are actually the two easiest Resolutions you can make. Allow me to explain.
Why don’t we ever keep our Resolutions to exercise more, eat healthier, or learn a new language? Usually, it’s because the demands of life get in the way. These kinds of resolutions require long-term commitments of time, energy, and often money. Eventually, we all fall off the wagon. But take steps to increase the energy efficiency of your home just once and you’re done. Those benefits continue to rack up, not just until the next New Years, but for years to come. You can knock out two of your resolutions in literally just a couple of days, and never have to think about it again this year. Here’s how:
By getting a home energy audit done once, you will generate a road map of specific energy efficiency improvement projects that you can do. Some may be large and some may be very small, but you’ll be able to estimate how much money each will save you in the long run and how much energy or water or fuel you will prevent from being consumed with each project. Schedule a couple days for our energy experts to make the installs or upgrades you want and then sit back and enjoy your cheaper, more sustainable life for the rest of 2014. Check and check.
Want some more ideas for reducing utility costs and increasing sustainability? Try these on for size:
- I know you’ve got some home improvement ideas you’d like to tackle this year. Why not do it green from the beginning and rake in the savings for the rest of the year? Adding a room? Make sure you use sustainable materials, insulate the walls well, and install LED lighting fixtures. Place windows to maximize natural light and install good energy-saving window panes.
- Re-doing your kitchen or replacing some major appliances? Buy Energy-Star rated appliances which will save you money for the life of that appliance!
- Want to start smaller? Go around your home one day and replace all your light bulbs with LEDs that will last 20 years. Make sure to recycle burnt out or broken CFLs (Find how HERE). Or do one better and upcycle old incandescents! We love THESE ideas.
- You can also do other small projects like installing low-flow shower heads and sink aerators, or dedicate a day to wrapping your water heater and pipes.
The most important thing to remember is that really any project should only come after an audit is complete, to ensure that either the energy problem is what you think it is or that you won’t be creating new, unforeseen problems with your new install.
Tell us in the comments what your New Year’s Resolutions are, and how you plan to fulfill them!
ABET wishes everyone a safe and joyous New Years!