I’ve been preparing for a half marathon since the end of January and am pretty amazed at what I’ve accomplished so far by adding a couple of miles each week. When I started training, 13.1 miles seemed almost impossible. Now, with the race just around the corner, I’m feeling confident I’ll finish.
We all have goals we want to meet. Making small changes each week is a lesson I can put into practice in other aspects of life — like saving energy or money. Overall, it may seem impossible to save money on your utility bill. Many of us (like me) resign ourselves to thinking we can’t make a difference.
It is what it is, right?
The answer to that question is NO. A friend challenged me to run the half marathon, and now I’d like to challenge you to save energy and money by taking on an 8-week energy-saving schedule that incorporates small changes each week. At the end of eight weeks, reevaluate your energy usage and see how little changes can add up.
- Week 1: Learn how to read your meter and keep track of readings at the same time each week.
- Week 2: Keep an eye on your thermostats. Keep your HVAC thermostat at 76 degrees (or higher) if using the air conditioner and 68 degrees (or lower) if you have the heat on. And keep your water heater turned down to 120 degrees.
- Week 3: Check around doors, windows and pipes to see if there are air drafts. Use caulk, door sweeps or insulation to keep air from your home escaping to the outside, or vice versa.
- Week 4: Change out old, incandescent light bulbs for compact fluorescent lights. Vow to turn on the lights only when you need them, and to turn them off when you leave a room.
- Week 5: Unplug! Unplug TVs, kitchen appliances, chargers, computers, printers, toaster ovens, etc., when they’re not in use. You can also buy surge protectors and just flip one switch for all the items plugged into them.
- Week 6: Use the “no heat” setting on your dishwasher. Heat drying is not necessary after a hot-wash cycle. Also, make sure you don’t leave the refrigerator or freezer door open while you’re deciding what you want to eat or drink.
- Week 7: Keep an eye on your hot water use. Only use hot water for very dirty loads of laundry, and be sure to clean your dryer’s lint filter after each use. Make sure you have full loads before running the dishwasher or washing machine. Cut down those long, hot, steamy showers. Install faucet aerators and low-flow showerheads.
- Week 8: Be energy-smart when cooking by keeping tight-fitting lids on pots and using a toaster or microwave instead of the stovetop or oven. Run your exhaust fan while cooking to force hot air out of the house.
Remember, these steps are progressive, so you need to carry on week one’s changes into week two, three, etc., and week two’s changes into weeks three, four, etc. Keep a schedule you can share with your family, and keep your eye on your meter to see how you’re doing. (We’re offering rebates through June on a Blue Line Energy Monitor that can help keep track of progress you’re making.) Also, let us know how your challenge went!