Step 1: Save Energy
Step 2: Cars
Rishnai the Car Guy says:
For many of us, cars are an unavoidable fact of modern life. You don't have to go quite as far as hypermilers do in pursuit of saving gas, but there are a few easy things you can do to make things more efficient.
One of them is to put in more than the recommended air pressure in your tires, or at least check and fill them regularly. This will reduce their total traction, but that's not really an issue unless you have to deal with water. There is a reason that racing tires are slicks.
From a safety standpoint, it is probably only a good idea to raise your tire pressure a lot, espescilly near the limit, during your local dry season. You'll seriously need the tire's full water channelling and abatement abilities if it's going to rain on your commute a lot. Snow: forget about it. Use snow or all-season tires at the recommended pressure.
Don't try to save money and use lower grade gas than your car is designed for. This will actually hurt your fuel efficiency, since you will have reduced your power efficiency. That is to say, if it takes 140 horsepower to support the way you drive, in order to drive the same way with lower-octane gas you will need to burn more of it, since you'll need to burn more to make that same power. Don't hurt your gas milage like that. Use the recommended gas.
If you can keep a light foot but like to work on engines and have horsepower on tap if you need it (or are willing to pay to have the work done), it is a good idea to add a cold-air intake, a hot cam, port the heads, install a fan clutch, put on higher-ratio rockers, reprogram your ECM, or put on a turbo. Each of these will increase the amount of horsepower that you get out of each cubic inch of fuel/air mixture in your engine. That means overall a lower volume of gas for a given amount of power. Therefore, if you only actually use 140 horsepower to get around, you can get around just the same by going lighter on the throttle and using less gas. Bear in mind that for cams, high-lift, short-duration is good for torque, medium-lift, long-duration is better for high-revving power, and will take a bite out of your low-end performance, where most of us drive. Beware of that.
Step 3: Energy in House--lights
It is all the rage right now to use compact flourescent lightbulbs in every application. They do save electricity and last a LONG time. This is one of the easiest changes to make to save energy. Do it.
A word of caution, though. The flourescent light does not have the same spectrum as the incandescent blub, which has essentially the same spectrum as the sun. The first thing you'll notice when you put in a CF blub is that everything is very blue all of a sudden. You get used to it, but not totally. Don't dress or do laundry by CF light or things might look a little weird when you get into different light.
CF blubs are also incompatible with dimmers. There is a threshold, below which the bulb will not light, and above which the bulb will not get brighter. In other words, it's either on or off. If you need to be able to dim things, which is very handy, you must stick with regular light bulbs.
A computer uses roughly the same amount of electricity as a refrigerator. In my case, that means I basically have five fridges, since I have a boatload of computers, a fridge, and a deep freeze. That runs up my energy bill, but I'm okay with that since I get more benefit out of it than it costs. It's up to you where the line is for you.
TheBurn's Opinion: Cfls ARE florescent bulbs, don't forget, these bulbs have high amounts of mercury, remember, you gotta throw these away PROPERLY or it will eventually contaminate fish, which is actually where a lot of our world's economy (especially in Japan) lies. don't kill the fish, remember we are going green, and environmentally friendly, not killing fish by just throwing them in the trash.
Step 4: Energy in House--everything Else
Just turning electronics off isn't really enough, especially if you have more invested in electronics than cars and their gas. Your home entertainment system (even if that's just a TV and rabbit ears) pulls quite a bit of energy even when they're "off". Use a power strip so that you can flip a switch when you're done and cut off that power entirely. The house I'm in right now has one outlet in every room that is wired to a wall switch. That's very handy, but don't get one installed if it didn't come with the place. Don't plug your cable box or VCR/TiVo into the power strip or switched outlet, as they need to be on to continue to keep time. That way, you can record things without having to set your clocks every time. Plus, if yours is like mine, the cable box will take 5 minutes to connect to the central office and work right, especially the Pay Per View and TV guide features. You don't want that, so it's probably best to just continue to pay for their "parasitic" electricity. The rest of everything should be switched, though.
For more information on this, here's some links:
Here is an article about getting rid of these "energy vampires"
The whole chart of energy used by standby mode is here
Another major source of energy loss is through an inefficient heating/cooling system. If you have an A/C instead of a swamp cooler, you'll be using more, but even a swamp cooler can be made better. Of course, you want to make sure things are well-insulated so all that effort doesn't go right out the walls, but before you pay for someone to drive over and install insulation that was expensive and energy-intesnsive to make, make sure you're using what you've got effectively.
If you have air conditioning, though, don't despair. Run your A/C in the morning to a little colder than you'd have it, then turn it off and let your house warm up naturally. If, by nighttime, it's too hot, open a window instead of turning the cooling back on. That rule is the same no matter how you cool your house.
Swamp coolers rely on evaporation of the water in the pads to cool the air. Therefore, you can't run them in the morning to be more efficient, since the cold air won't evaporate it as quickly. Instead, run your cooler in the hottest part of the day until your house is the right tempurature. Now turn your cooler off and close your drapes on the side of the house that the sun is facing. In fact, keep your drapes closed until that part of the house is in shadow as a rule. If it's winter and you're trying to warm things up, open the sun-side drapes instead.
Step 5: Recycle
Recycling is when something gets used in a cycle over and over again. Every 16.9 oz/500 mL plastic bottleed saves the energy of a computer being on approximately 30 minutes. od way, if you drink bottled water. I prefer drinking filtered tap water, it costs 500 times less. And saves money.
Rishnai's two cents:
If you like to have a source of portable water, buy one (count it, one) bottle of water, drink it, and refill it with tap water.
Little-known fact, but Aquafina and Dasani are just glorified tap water from the cities that the bottling plants are in. Unless you live someplace where the water is literally non-drinkable, like Alamosa, Colorado recently (major bacterial contamination), your tap water is not any less safe than most bottled water.
Aluminum is at record prices right now. If I remember correctly, 8 aluminum cans equals a pound. Two full 45-gallon trash bags of cans fetches three dollars at King Soopers. That same thing fecthes you over a hundred at the scrapyard. Don't let the scrapyard weigh your truck with and without the cans, though and pay you for the difference--they're cheating you. Those large scales are not calibrated for that kind of precision. Weigh the cans yourself on your bathroom scale before you leave home. If you put the bags in boxes and go to the post office/UPS office during a non-busy time of the day, those folks will probably let you use their scales. Their scales are definitely accurate. Now have that information at the ready when you go to the scrapyard and cash in.
Step 6: Give Back to the Environment
Step 7: Eat Local Foods
Step 8: Buy Many Groceries at Once
Step 9: Use Dimmers on Lights
Step 10: Green Energy
Step 11: Use Concentrate Juices
This is mostly the case if the juice you would otherwise buy is from already reconstituted concentrate. That is the case with most of the juices in the grocery store. It is more efficient to transport concentrate juice from the orchard to the bottling plant, for example, since they can fit more on the same truck. On the same token, more cans of frozen concentrate fit on a truck from the plant to the grocery store, so the unit-cost on concentrate juices in terms of carbon emissions is lower.
Even better, buy fresh, never-concentrated juice, especially the sort that is local.
Step 12: Freecycle
Step 13: Throw Away Caps
Really? You sure? I would have thought that the bottles were all just remelted together and the slag poured off and the water evaporated out. Either way, remove the cap, as the cap does not appear to be the same material as the rest of the bottle. At least it's not the same color as the rest of the bottle. I would recycle it anyway, since if they don't need it, they'll get rid of it.
Maybe it doesn't matter.
Theburn7 answers Rishnai:
I reassure you, these caps are a different type of plastic which aren't used for much except for... Caps! Sure, OK, you can recycle them, just not twisted on the bottle. This step is more important than most people think so.