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Monday, Feb. 1, 2010 02:52 pm

Energy-saving tips and tricks: Day One

I'll admit that I'm not perfect. The point of this blog is not to preach at you to hug a tree or save a penguin.

I like to think that I'm a non-judging environmentalist. I enjoy saving the earth/whales/redwoods/whatever, but I understand that we're all busy with our own lives and sometimes it's hard to take that extra energy-saving step. What I want to do is take small, simple steps to reduce my own carbon footprint.

Anyway, it's a new month, and as my friend and fellow healthy-living enthusiast Rachel says, it only takes 21 days to form a habit. So this week, I'll be bringing you five easy tips and tricks that will save energy and save you money! I hope they'll be habit-forming in a good way, not in a sleeping pills and Jack Daniels kind of way.

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Five Energy-Saving Tips and Tricks

1.) Put plastic over your windows in winter

Last year, my housemates and I got together and covered all our windows with plastic sheeting to help prevent drafts and save energy. I lived with four other girls, and we each had our own bedrooms, plus the kitchen, living and dining areas. We lived in a large, practically particle board house shoddily constructed by university slumlords in the late 80s, so we desperately needed any heat-saving measures available. (It took about an hour or so, but like I said, we had a huge house. I'm planning on covering my apartment windows and it probably won't take more than 20 minutes.) This was a BIG help on our heating bills and our bodies. Our house stayed warm all winter, and we were able to spend less on utilities than our neighbors.

I recommend securing the plastic with double-stick tape for maximum hold. I prefer the transparent plastic sheeting, since I really need sunlight in my life, but the opaque kind works just as well (though it lets less light in.) If you're the Red Green kind (wait - will anyone in Illinois get this reference? Have I lived too close to Canada for too long? When you grow up 45 minutes from the border, you forget that Tim Hortons and CBC are not universal.) you can use duct tape.

Plastic sheeting and hardcore double-sided tape should be available at your local hardware store or any large chain store. With the recession, more people are trying to save on their heating bills, so these materials have become pretty commonplace anywhere that will sell you a hammer.

So that's the first tip of the week. Not exactly revolutionary, but I promise it'll work! My parents have been doing this for years, and it really makes a difference. It's especially good for dorm/apartment situations, or anywhere with that single-paned glass builders use to cut costs. When I lived in a drafty residence hall built in the 1930s, I knew many people who swore by plastic sheeting. It's definitely a great solution when you don't want to turn up the thermostat.

Come back tomorrow for Tip #2!

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