29 Steps to Saving Oil (& Cleaning the Air)
By Marion Klaus and Mark Clemens
The twin catastrophes in the Gulf of Mexico and Red Butte Creek remind us of the Faustian bargain we make with fossil fuels for convenience, speed, comfort and power. Check out the list below to discover more ways you can reduce the demand for fossil fuels.
Last year we ran a similar list to encourage our readers to fight air pollution. Most of these steps are also the first line in the struggle against fossil fuel dependency. We’ve sneaked in a few suggestions that address other environmental issues too, but this list is primarily about energy use & clean air.
- Walk, ride your bike, carpool or take public transit rather than driving solo.
- If you have no alternative to driving, plan and combine your trips so you complete all your errands on the shortest possible loop.
- Don’t idle your car for more than 5 seconds. Turn it off.
- Consider moving closer to the destination of your longest and most frequent automobile journeys whether that’s school, work or church.
- Keep your automobile tires inflated to the full pressure recommended by the manufacturer. Along with avoiding rabbit starts from red lights, this measure is one of the best to maximize gas mileage.
- Make changes in your yard & garden. Rake leaves rather than using a leaf blower. Cut the grass with a push mower rather than a gas mower.
- If the extra garden work leaves you breathless, consider reducing the area in grass and replacing it with native perennial plants. The change will save water too.
- If you must use motorized lawn (or snow removal) tools, use them later in the day so your emissions don’t add to the pollution spike in the middle of the day.
- Fill your gas tank later in the day.
- Avoid spilling gas and don’t top off the tank. Replace gas tank cap tightly.
- Buy energy wise appliances. Look for Energy Star labels.
- If your old ride is wearing out, trade it in for a gas-electric hybrid or the highest mpg gas-driven car available.
- Get your car tuned frequently and replace air filter and oil regularly.
- Properly dispose of household paints, solvents and pesticides. Store these materials in airtight containers.
- Paint with a brush or roller, not a sprayer. Paint is a significant source of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Using paint with a sprayer considerably increases the dissemination of VOCs.
- Buy low VOC paints for indoor and outdoor painting jobs.
- Reduce or eliminate fireplace and wood stove use.
- Change your light bulbs to the energy saving compact fluorescent light bulbs.
- Turn down your heat 5 degrees in the winter and your air conditioner up 5 degrees in summer.
- If you see a car or truck belching thick and substantial exhaust in Salt Lake County, note the plate number and report it to http://www.slvhealth.org/cfml/sv_form.cfm, or 801/944-7664. If you see a smoking vehicle in Utah County, call 801/851-7600.
- Get a Thermwise home inspection from Questar Gas and take their advice. Find details at http://www.thermwise.com/home/Audit.html, or by calling Questar at 800/695-7375.
- Put your entertainment center and computer on a surge protector that turns off all electronics. They continue to use electricity even when not in use.
- Put a thermal blanket on your water heater and turn it down a few degrees.
- Put up a clothes line, or a drying rack if you live in an apartment, and take advantage of Utah’s low humidity to dry your clothes.
- Turn off your computer when you are not using it.
- Use non-toxic cleaning products
- Buy locally and switch to organic food and drinks.
- Consider carbon offsetting for travel. Calculate the impact of your travel at http://www.carbonfund.org/Calculators/.
- Buy recycled products.
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