Easy energy savers

So you can’t retrofit your house to meet the golden standards of LEED just yet. The folks at Grist online magazine (see “All the news that’s hard to find”) list some simple steps toward energy reduction in their new book Wake Up and Smell the Planet. Here are five of them:

1) Turn down the heat. Just two degrees lower will shave 10 percent off your energy bill. Turn it down even lower (or off) when you’re out of the house or asleep.

2) Go unplugged. Americans waste $1 billion a year powering electronic equipment when it’s turned off. Don’t just let your computer and other gadgets “sleep"—if you’re not using them, unplug them. Or plug a number of them into a power strip, and keep it off when not in use.

3) Wash clothes with cold water. Ninety percent of the energy used for clothes washing goes to heating the water. It also saves time because you can wash darks and whites together with no fear of dyes bleeding in hot water.

4) Eat less meat. It takes more energy to produce meat than veggies and grain. You don’t have to go vegetarian, necessarily. If every American ate no meat for a day each week, the emissions reductions would be like taking 8 million cars off the road.

5) Get out of your car. Walking, biking, carpooling or using public transportation just one day a week adds up over the year. If you do drive, make sure your tires are inflated properly, lest your gas mileage be cut by 5 percent.