Conservation tips

More ways to cut car emissions: reflective glass and paint

Most of the effort to reduce greenhouse gases from cars has focused on improved fuel efficiency, low-carbon fuels, and alternative engine types like hybrids and plug-in vehicles. These approaches will be critical to meeting GHG targets established in California’s landmark global warming solutions law, as well as similar goals proposed in federal legislation. California is taking this work a step… read more →

Make more food than you need

Next time you're cooking at home, make double the amount you need. Keep the leftovers in the fridge and then eat them for lunch or reheat in the microwave another evening. **How this helps** Cooking can be energy intensive, especially if you're boiling water or using the oven. It doesn't take much additional energy when you increase the number you're… read more →

Use the microwave

When reheating food, or cooking small portions, use the microwave instead of the oven or range. **How this helps** Because it takes so much less time to cook in the microwave, you use a lot less energy -- even if the microwave draws more power. According to Energy Star, cooking small portions or reheating food in the microwave can save… read more →

Boil your pasta in less water

If you like to cook, you may already be familiar with Harold McGee, tireless kitchen tinkerer, experimenter, and debunker of myths. Recently McGee set out to find whether it's really necessary to cook a pound of pasta in six quarts of water. This may seem like a minor matter (and it is!), but Americans do boil a billion pounds or… read more →

More than pretty pictures

It’s not every day that a mainstream magazine with a national circulation of eight million publishes a cover story on how to save energy at home. But that’s what National Geographic (March 2009 issue) delivers in an article about "the fastest, least expensive way to slow climate change.” The magazine's editor Peter Miller poses a challenge: can he and his… read more →

Get out of the shower

The first serious winter storms have finally arrived in California, but it seems unlikely that we'll get close to making up the water we badly need to get out of the current drought. So it seems a good time to remind everybody of the benefits of short showers. **How this helps** A shorter shower not only saves water, but also… read more →

Avoid the cut flowers

If you can possibly get away with it, avoid buying and giving cut flowers -- unless they're from your own garden. If you can't get away with it, look for locally grown flowers that are in season. This almost certainly means no roses. **How this helps** There's plenty to love about cut flowers, but the story behind the dozen roses… read more →

Paint your walls white

When it gets difficult to buy a new house, people often decide instead to make improvements around their old one. If you're thinking of redecorating, pick bright, light colors. **How this helps** Dark walls and ceilings absorb light, requiring more energy (and possibly fixtures) to light your house. By painting walls white or brighter colors, natural and artificial light will… read more →

Locate air leaks

Look around your house for gaps or cracks that could be leaking air, including the attic floor, edges of doors and windows, electrical outlets and switches, and pipe entrances. Light an incense stick and hold it close to window edges and other possible leaks. If the smoke coming from the stick goes horizontal, you've found a crack. To test doors… read more →

Recycle your old cellphone

You may not be so excited about your old cellphone anymore, but chances are that somebody else will be. Better still, you might even get paid for it. For example, a Motorola Razr V3 is worth $21. **How this helps** Recycling your old phone keeps it and its (likely toxic) battery out of the landfill. Your phone also contains precious… read more →
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