Tuesday, June 07, 2011
Four ways to be more 'green' at home
(ARA) - It doesn't take much effort to run your household in a more eco-friendly way. You might even be surprised by how much money you can save.
"A small change can make a big difference," says Charles Valinotti, senior vice president of insurer QBE. His company recently implemented a series of small environmental changes and the savings are adding up. "These are changes anyone could make in their own home. We just did it on a larger scale."
Here are four simple green changes inspired by QBE that could benefit any homeowner:
1. Recycle - and not just the obvious stuff.
Chances are, you're already recycling glass bottles and aluminum cans. But why stop there? Consider recycling before you throw anything away. You might also consider collecting aluminum cans and bringing them to your local recycling facility where you may get some cash for your efforts.
QBE's Sun Prairie, Wis. office recycles electrical wire, cabinets, shelving, scrap metals and light fixtures. In two years, not only did the company collect $4,000 for non-traditional recyclables, it also avoided fees for disposing of them.
2. Switch to high-efficiency lighting.
For years we've heard that high-efficiency lighting is the way to go. But did you know the magnitude of difference this one change could make? EnergyStar reports that each compact florescent light bulb can save up to $40 in energy costs over its lifetime.
In March 2010 QBE's Bellevue, Wash., site converted from halogen to fluorescent light fixtures in its parking garage. This one change is saving 378,554 kilowatt hours per year in electrical usage, totaling $26,575 in annual utility expense.
3. When it's not in use, turn it off.
Moms all over the world can be heard reminding their brood, "Turn the lights off!" While there's no doubt it makes sense to turn off lights, some may question when and if a computer should be turned off since it takes a bit more energy to power up than to leave it running.
The U.S. Department of Energy reports that for energy savings and convenience, consider turning off your monitor if you aren't going to use your computer for more than 20 minutes. Turn off your computer if you're not going to use it in the next two hours.
Like a lot of people, QBE employees don't always shut down their computers at the end of the day. Last year, the company began automatic shutdowns at 9 p.m. local time - saving about $55,000 in energy costs each year. The system gives a prompt 60 minutes prior to the automatic shutdown, allowing employees who are actively working to bypass the shut-off.
4. Paper - who needs it?
Valinotti suggests that taking baby steps toward a paperless existence can be natural and painless. For example, many homeowners already do their banking online - so why not also switch to paperless bank statements? Many utilities, credit card companies and municipalities also offer online billing.
By just moving a portion of its monthly reports online, QBE saves 2.5 reams of paper and $11 per day, totaling $2,000 in savings last year.
As you can see, just a few small changes can help you go green - and help you build financial strength as well.
Labels: home and kids