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Relocating is one of the most stressful events in our lives. What we tend to forget is the stress that relocation has on the environment.
There are many things that you can do – before, during, and after your move – to minimize the impact your relocation will have on the environment. Here’s a list of easy things you can do to make your move environmentally friendly.
Before You Move
- Shed Some Pounds – Whether you’re moving across town, or across the country, now is the time to get rid of the things you don’t need or use. Consider this: every extra pound you put on your moving truck requires that much more energy to move. That means more gas, more emissions, and more money! You can save money – and save our environment – by following these simple tips.
- Sell or donate things you haven’t used in two years. Let’s face it, if you haven’t used it in two years, you probably aren’t going to use it. Now’s the perfect time for a materialistic reality check. Sell or donate your used items. One person’s trash is another person’s treasure. Remember to keep an accurate account of your donations for tax purposes.
- Books are heavy and bulky. Is that Grisham novel that you’ve read 3 times gathering dust? Donate it and your other old books to your local library, where they can be read and enjoyed over and over by other people.
- Older appliances are huge energy wasters. Newer, Energy Star(TM) rated appliances are typically much more efficient. Front loading washing machines use a fraction of the water of their older top loading counterparts, and are gentler on your clothes as well – extending the life of your favorite shirts and jeans. Refrigerators, especially older models, can be the biggest energy consumers in your household. Before you move, consider donating old major appliances to your local church or charity, and purchasing more energy efficient models for your new home. Not only will this reduce the amount of energy required to move, but your new energy efficient appliances will give you savings for years to come.
- Location location location: When you’re selecting your new home, take into consideration the daily activities that require you to drive. Choose a home close to daily conveniences, making it easier to bike / walk to the store, dry cleaners, etc. If you walk to the store, you’ll save money, gas, and get great exercise too.
- Downsize : Most of us have twice as much room as we need. And that means that we have twice as much space to heat and cool. Not to mention all of the “junk” we collect to fill that extra space. Consider simplifying your life, and downsizing your living space. You’ll find that it is not that difficult to start using your space more efficiently. Publications like simpleliving.com make it easy to stay organized, and live a happier, simpler life.
- Use old newspaper for packing, then recycle it when you get to your new home. Most every town recycles newspaper, while not all recycle packing materials such as Styrofoam “peanuts”. Newspaper is also great for cleaning the windows in your new home!
- Don’t purchase moving boxes. Use recycled card board boxes. They are far less expensive (FREE), just as good as new boxes, and help reduce the impact your move will have on the environment. Your local grocery and liquor stores are great places to get moving boxes. Try to get boxes of uniform shape and size, to make it easier to efficiently load your moving vehicle. And when you are finished moving, recycle your card board boxes. Most every town recycles card board boxes. For items you are planning on storing, consider moving them in plastic tubs. You can reuse these tubs for years to come, or donate them to needy charities. There are groups who will rent you plastic moving tubs.
- Use old blankets to protect furniture. Then donate them to a homeless shelter in your new home town.
- Recycle hazardous materials locally. Don’t throw corrosive or flammable materials away, and certainly don’t dispose of them in your sewage. Contact your local municipality for proper disposal procedures.
- Get rid of that old car. Older cars are less fuel efficient. Most families have more cars than they really need. Why not donate that old car to a local charity BEFORE you move. You’ll be helping a family in need, helping to save the environment, and in some cases you can receive a healthy tax deduction for your donation.
- Sign up with a green utility company. In some communities, you can choose your utility company. Why not select a “green” utility company that uses solar or wind power to generate power?
- Don’t move your food. Plan ahead and eat the food in your house. Donate excess to a local charity. Don’t pay to ship that can of soup across the country.
During Your Move
- Just Do It Once. Moving can be an arduous task that spans the course of several days. But just because it takes several days doesn’t mean that you need to make more than one trip. It may cost a little more for a bigger moving truck to carry your stuff in a single trip, but you’ll save you time, money, and gas by taking one big trip versus several trips. And, believe it or not, it is faster! Your local self moving company can help you select the right truck for your needs.
- Drive 55. Driving the speed limit or a little slower can dramatically increase your fuel efficiency. Keep your engine RPM (revolutions per minute) as low as possible to save the most fuel. Another great tip – turn off the air conditioning in your car. Air conditioning zaps your vehicle’s fuel efficiency.
- Use alternative fuels. As you are traveling across the country, consider using alternative fuels such as E85 or biodiesel. Biodiesel is a clean burning alternative fuel produced from domestic, renewable sources. Biodiesel can be used in most diesel engines with little to no modifications.
More likely than not you’ll have a hard time finding pure biodiesel (which has no petroleum) commercially, but you can readily find biodiesel blends. These have anywhere from 5% to 20% biodiesel mixed with traditional diesel fuel.
- Stay in a Green Hotel. If your move requires you to stay overnight in a hotel, look for a green hotel. Green hotels are environmentally-friendly properties whose managers have instituted programs to save water, energy, and reduce solid wastes. Staying in a green hotel is a great way to learn easy ways in which you can reduce your everyday impact on the environment, too. You can find a list of green hotels here:
- Drive a Hybrid. If you are taking a long trip, consider renting a hybrid. Hybrids drive just like any other car, yet they use a fraction of the fuel.
- Fuel your car at night. Ozone requires sunlight to be created. You can reduce ozone by refueling your vehicle at night.
- Carry bottled water with you, and refill as needed. Every bottle of water you purchase has an environmental cost associated with it, such as the cost to ship it, package it, and recycle the packaging. Every time you reuse a water bottle, you are saving the environment. Even better, use biodegradable water bottles (they are made out of corn, not petroleum). After you’re through using them (you can reuse them too!), just recycle them. They will biodegrade in 80 days after you recycle them.
- Take home your hotel soap. Most of us “steal” the hotel shampoo and conditioner. Don’t stop there. Take the soap too. The fact of the matter is that, thankfully, hotels don’t recycle the soap. So if you don’t take it, it gets thrown away. So before you check out, put your soap back in its packaging and take it with you to use at home, or the next hotel.
After You Move
- Shed Some New Light. When you move is the perfect time to upgrade all of your lighting to Compact Florenscent Lightbulbs (CFLs). CFLs use up to 75% less energy of traditional lightbulbs, and last from 7 to 10 years, saving your money every month and reducing our need to build more power plants. The CFL lightbulb equivalent of a traditional 75 watt lightbulb only uses 18 watts, saving almost ¼ ton of coal over the course of 6 years.
If you are moving into a new home, request CFLs before traditional light bulbs are installed. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, if every household in just the state of Nevada replaced just one bulb with a CFL, we’d reduce energy consumption in the state of Nevada by 45 million kWh a year. We’d also save $4.9 million in energy costs, while diminishing carbon dioxide emissions by over 69 million pounds. That’s enough energy to light over 24,000 homes for a year. Now imagine how much would be saved if every light bulb in America were changed!
If you cannot afford to change all of the bulbs in your house, change those lights that you use the most.
And don’t throw away your old bulbs. Use them in the places where you use your lighting the least!
- Time to Weatherize. Before you move into your new home is the best time to weatherize. Air leakage and improperly installed insulation can waste 20 percent or more of the energy you pay to heat and cool your home. Typical homes have so many leaks, it’s like having a window open all the time, winter and summer. Worse, these leaks can create mold, when warm air comes in contact with cooler surfaces and condenses. Weatherizing your home will help lower your energy bill, saving you money every year and saving our environment! Consider these easy tips :
- Insulate your windows. Take the time to insulate your windows before you move it. Insulating window film is easy to install, and can cost energy loss through the window by 60% or more. A better option is to install Energy Star rated windows. Either solution will help you save money, and also save your furniture and carpeting from sun damage.
- Make sure that your exterior facing walls are insulated.
- Check for exterior air leaks. Before you fill you new home, take the time to inspect it carefully for costly leaks. Inspect under doors, around windows, and pay particular attention to power outlets on exterior walls. These are the places where the most conditioned air (both warm in the winter, and cool in the summer) escapes. Remember, just a little bit of caulking can fix most all of your air leaks.
- Check for leaks in your duct work. In a typical home 20% of the air that moves through the duct system is lost, due to leaks, holes, and improper connections. You can correct leaks in your air duct system by caulking cracks, applying mastic to all seams of your duct work, and insuring proper use of duct tape at joints. Another good tip is to insulate exposed duct work, helping to maintain the temperature of the air as it passes through the duct system.
- Your Attic Needs Attention. Before you fill your home with furniture, add an extra layer of insulation in your attic if needed.
- Install ceiling fans. Ceiling fans help keep the air in your home circulating, and can make the temperature feel several degrees cooler. Best of all, they use a fraction of the energy of air conditioning.
- Donate to offset carbon emissions of your move. Donating to offset carbon emissions isn’t just for the rich and famous. There are several websites which help you calculate your carbon emissions by channeling your donations to worthy green projects. But just because you are donating to offset your carbon emissions, doesn’t give you a license to be environmentally unfriendly. Remember the basics of environmental friendly living – reduce, reuse, recycle.
- Convert to paperless billing. Utilities, investments, car loans, … almost every company offers online billing and e-statements. This will save paper, and the energy cost to deliver your bills.
- Sign up for an anti-junk mail service. This will help minimize the amount of junk mail you receive, and help save countless trees used to make that junk mail.
- Plant low-water using indigenous plants. Throughout the world we are facing severe water shortages. Much of our water waste occurs in maintaining our landscaping, particularly when we try to introduce foreign plants to a new environment. Using low-water indigenous plants in your landscaping is an easy way to save water. Ideally you want plants that can grow in your environment, with little to no irrigation. The local home improvement center and in some cases local water municipalities can help you determine the best plants for your area. Believe it or not, the choices are not limiting. You will be surprised at how many beautiful plants are indigenous to your area.
- Install low flow shower heads, water faucet irrigators, and toilets. As you know, water is a limited resource. Installing low flow shower heads, water faucet irrigators, and toilets are easy ways to save water every day – without dramatically inconveniencing you. These low flow water devices are inexpensive, easy to install, and can be found at most any home improvement store.
- Insulate your water heater. A lot of heat is lost just from the walls of your water heater. The solution to this problem is simple – a specially designed sheet of insulation known as a water heater blanket. A water heater blanket is an inexpensive way to cut down on your energy bill. You can purchase them at any home improvement store – they cost as little as $30 – and they will easily pay for themselves in the first year. Installation is simple and should only take you a few minutes – just follow the instructions.
- Buy only Energy Star (TM) appliances. Appliances with the Energy Star rating have been proven to have met the strict energy efficiency guidelines of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Energy Star is a join program of the EPA and DOE. The program is designed to help us all save money and protect the environment through the use of energy efficient products and practices. A complete list of Energy Star appliances can be found here: http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?fuseaction=find_a_product.
- Buy an Energy Star (TM) rated home. Energy Star rated homes have met the strict energy conservation guidelines and building standards of the EPA and DOE. This means that particular attention to detail has been met, helping to insure minimal energy waste such as air leaks and poor insulation. Purchasing an Energy Star rated home may seem like an additional expense, but it can save you quite a bit of money over the years.
- Consider hi-rise living. Hi-rise living has many benefits. Hi-rise condos are energy efficient, offer shared resources that typically are aren’t environmentally friendly (such as pools, and extensive landscaping) , and are usually located more centrally – allowing you to walk or take convenient public transportation to more places.
- Analyze your homes Energy Star (TM) rating before you move.
- Have your heating and cooling system serviced. Regularly servicing your heating and cooling system helps save money, energy, and protects your investment. Make sure to specifically ask your repair specialist about other ways in which you can save money on your heating and cooling costs. They are a wealth of knowledge. Remember, if you must replace your heating / cooling system, choose Energy Star (TM) rated equipment.
- Cover your pool. Water evaporation is just one of the ways that pools can be very environmentally expensive. An easy way to resolve this is to install a safe pool cover. This will help reduce evaporation, and keep your pool warmer – saving you money on your heating bill. It will also make your pool easier to clean!
- Install solar heating for your pool / spa. Another great way to lower your energy bill is to install solar water heating for your pool and / or spa. Solar water heating has become very inexpensive, and can pay for itself in just a couple of years. Also, it makes it easier to keep your pool and spa heated – allowing you to enjoy your pool and spa more often.
These are just a few things that you can to minimize the impact your relocation and move has on the environment. There are countless other things that you can do! Remember to always use your own best judgment when following any recommendation.
write by Dermot