We have installed ceiling fans in every room. They circulate the heat downward from the ceilings in winter and keep the rooms cool in summer. We have not figured savings, but we definitely use less heat each winter and we don’t even own an air conditioner.

We have heavily insulated our attic and walls, which has greatly reduced our winter heating bills. Another thing we do consistently is to turn the water heater OFF in the evening and leave it off until morning. This leaves us with a ready supply of hot water while reducing the amount of electricity we use, without the added cost of a programmable thermostat.

Some years ago I sewed about twenty washable canvas bags from sturdy inexpensive painter’s drop cloths. We use them every time we go shopping for groceries. The bags have held up well and are easy to keep clean. Using these cloth bags means we’re not using and discarding paper or plastic bags from the stores.

We recycle. It takes a bit longer to rinse and sort, but it has become a habit that now seems like second nature. If we needed added incentive, our local landfill’s three dollar charge for each bag of regular trash would help. We also recycle paper items and cardboard. These days we have very little “trash”.

We compost. I keep a small covered bucket under the sink and each night when we check on the outside animals we empty the bucket into the current compost pile. My husband keeps several compost piles active so we always have rich black compost for our gardens. Each fall he grinds up the leaves we rake and composts them, too. It is quite amazing to see the thermometer in the center of a pile of composting leaves registering over a hundred degrees when the outside temperature is below zero!

We try to buy organic produce and products if possible. We have a garden each year and do not use chemicals or pesticides. We also do not use pesticides or herbicides on the lawn. When home remedies don’t work, as in the problem with slugs and hostas, we use a non-toxic product that is environmentally safe and harmless around pets and the garden wildlife.

I use natural cleaners whenever possible. They’re not only less expensive, the non-toxic, non-chemical aspect is important to me.

We have uninterruptible power supplies for all of our electronics, and we turn the power off when we aren’t using the items. We have such frequent power outages and power surges here, the uninterruptible power supplies are a necessity… something we learned the hard way after a fax machine and three computer modems were ruined by power surges. Another benefit… turning off only one computer or television when you aren’t using it can save six to seven dollars of electricity a month. Multiply that by several items, and it’s a habit worth starting.

We use rechargeable batteries in everything we have that uses batteries… and we use a solar battery charger to recharge them! I have read that rechargeable batteries can be reused for up to two years, but we have had batteries that lasted for up to fifteen years. Our current batch of rechargeable batteries was purchased in 1999 and except for two, they are still going strong.

This list will keep growing because there will always be more we can do… but living green is a habit that gets easier and easier.

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Ginny from Alaska

I really love ceiling fans although I had never thought of putting them in every room. We have a ceiling fan in our living room and it does circulate the heat really well back down into the room. I think we will have to start saving up to buy more fans. Great idea and a great list. Thanx!

T. Goodwin

I was glad to see you included my favorite subject, composting. My kids call me the composting fool and I guess I am although I tell them there’s nothing foolish in wanting to return natural materials to the earth. Composting has always had kind of a bad reputation but it’s really easy and done properly it doesn’t smell at all and having that compost available at gardening time is worth its weight in gold. I too was intrigued with the idea of a solar battery charger, I never thought of that, guess it’s time to get out the catalogs. Kudos to you Shirley for another great post.


Thanks for sharing your environmental approach. They are all simple and easy starting points for life in voluntary simplicity. I do most of what you do too. As you said, living green is a habit. It gets easier and sometimes I don’t even realize that’s the way I chose. So I look for different challenges for more and they will again, become a habit. Simple and effective habit, really.

Kara D

Thank you for this post – so many good ideas. In my house, the ceiling fans I have haven’t helped much in the summer (I think I’m just very intolerant of heat), but I really notice a big difference in the winter. I’m also going to explore the natural cleaners. I don’t like the smells of commercial cleaning products and I worry about harm to my cat if she walks on a chemically cleaned surface and licks her paws.


you’re doing great! And it’s so true, it does get easier and easier! I used to feel overwhelmed whenever I heard green tips, but now they excite me and I can’t wait to implement them!

Hilda N.

After reading your post this morning I went out and bought a large canvas painters dropcloth and I have spent the afternoon making SHOPPING BAGS!!!!!! I can’t believe how wonderfully sturdy this material is and I can see that it will hold up well under the weight of even the heaviest items. I already had one cloth shopping bag that I had purchased a year ago and I used that as a pattern except I made my pattern quite a lot larger than the bag I already had. That one was on the small side I always thought. Anyway I am thrilled with the two bags I have made so far. I used my serger to finish the seams and the bags look really nice. I can’t wait to use them. Thank you so much for this wonderful idea and for this great blog. I think I must be one of your biggest fans. My partner says all I do since I have found your blog is go there and read and I have to admit he is right!


I followed your links in the paragraph about natural cleaners and I was very intrigued with the the hint about cleaning stainless steel with olive oil. To be honest with you I didn’t think it could possibly work but I have a lot of stainless steel in my kitchen and it was anything but shining so I decided to give your method a try. I couldn’t believe the way it worked! I started with the refrigerator and that turned out so good I moved on to the stove and then the sink. When my daughter came home from high school she wanted to try so she did the chrome in the bathroom and then my husband did the sink. We have been laughing about it because we have done all this cleaning today because of your post. I thought you should know what an effect your blog has on your readers. I always look forward to your next post.


What great ideas everyone has! Let me share a couple of mine. In the summer we turn the breaker switch off for the furnace. That little hum you hear is because the furnace is always at the ready to come on. Any appliance that has instant on, we unplug until it is needed. In the winter I use a drying rack for jeans and towels and heavy items and then just fluff them in the dryer. Because of health issues I need an air conditioner so to make up for the electricity used we turned off our hot water heater (set at 120 degrees) like you do, Shirley. Our light bill actually went down despite the heat wave we had. I heat water for the dishes on my gas stove like my mother used to and use a dishpan instead of filling the whole sink. Rinsed with boiling water, those dishes and silverware air dry in no time. We compost and recycle just about everything. When we leave a room we turn out the light(s).


It makes me mad to see how many plastic bags people use at the supermarket here in England. There is a move to charge for plastic bags but it hasn’t happened yet. If they do finally get it together to do it then people may be a bit more willing to bring their own bags. Like you I always take my own home-made canvas bags.

tina hanna

I love your articles and wanted to mention you are not alone in noticing the really LONG life of the rechargeable battery! I recently bought a fresh assortment of rechargeable because I’ve had my current ones for over almost a decade and they are taking longer to charge and not lasting as long. But they still work fine. The new ones say they can hold their charge for years in the package so I won’t open it till I need them. I guess it could be awhile!