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 two 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!

Yellow daylily (Hemerocallis lilioasphodelus)

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.