5 Tips to Make 2011 Your Most Efficient Year Yet

With the new year upon us, we have the perfect opportunity to make long-term goals and see the results by this time next year. While we should all have our own personal resolutions, I recommend setting some for your home, family, and planet too. Below, you’ll find some simple tips we should all be implementing, as well as some more difficult ones that will require time and effort. Ready, set, go! Let’s make 2011 the most efficient year yet!

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Number 1. Home Smarts

Home is where the heart is, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take care of your physical home! To kick of 2011, begin to replace your lights with more energy efficient, CFL bulbs. One note of caution, however: energy efficient light bulbs contain mercury, making them more environmentally destructive if disposed of improperly. That said, be sure you aren’t just throwing them away with your trash. Instead, contact your local recycling center or use Earth911.com to find out where to go for safe disposal.

Next, make sure to insulate properly. Place insulation strips where windows and doors leak, and  be sure to close off the rooms you don’t wish to heat. Opening windows when the sun is out is another good way to warm your home and keep it bright, but without using your own energy.

Finally, fix all your leaks! A leaky pipe can drip away hundreds upon thousands of gallons of water over time, making your home a very inefficient place. Usually, leaks don’t require a more than a new washer or some plumbing tape. You can probably tackle them all by the end of the day!

Number 2. Clean the Best way – From Laundry to Bathrooms

Always be sure to wash when loads are full, whether it’s the dishwasher or laundry. Doing half loads doubles your energy consumption and is all around more wasteful – time, energy, and resource wise. Don’t feel like you have to overload the washers, however. The last thing you want to do is break something or spring a new leak to fix.

Second, try to make this year your year to stop buying the majority of your store bought cleaners. There are some great ways to make your own, and, alternatively, there are some great companies like Planet Inc that offer eco-safe supplies. That benefit of making your own, however, is that you can keep reusing the plastic containers, saving money on purchases and reducing plastic use.

Number 3. Transportation

Despite still being in winter, try to carpool, ride public transit, or bike/walk to work if possible. The benefits of doing so are real: you save a ton of money on gas, minimize your carbon emission, and you help maintain a healthy body if you choose the last one. If you’ve never tried public transportation before, I suggest going on a weekend or a day when you have plenty of time spend. The downfall of these methods is clear: less control on your part. However, you’ll notice the money saving, and the planet will notice the fewer carbon molecules!

Number 4. Minimizing Waste

Finally, do your best this year to become waste neutral. Start recycling if you don’t already, seriously consider how recyclable something is before you just trash it, and remember, food is recyclable too. Start a nice compost pile you’ll be able to use for a garden or some flowers. It’s a good way to create healthy soil and helps lessen the amount of trash you take out each week.

Number 5. Family Matters

This one is simple enough – remind your family members (brothers, sisters, moms, dads, aunts, uncles, grandmas, grandpas, etc) to practice these same tips! By doing so, your efforts will increase tenfold and your home will become much more efficient. With these tips combined, you'll be able to make 2011 your best year yet. The only left to do is get started!

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