Compact Florescent Lights
Sealing Leaks and Adding Insulation
Hot Water Heater
Appliances - Laundry, Dishwasher
Green Energy from Xcel
Programmable Thermostat
Energy Star Appliances
Low Flow Fixtures
Water Consumption
Windows - Transparent Film, Solar
Solar Heated Hot Water System
Geothermal Heat Pump

Let’s get started by understanding how much our buildings actually consume in the United States.
• 72% of electricity,
• 40% of raw materials use,
• 39% of energy use,
• 38% of all carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions,
• 30% of waste output (136 million tons annually), and
• 14% of potable water consumption.

So what does this really mean? It means that if we continue to consume energy and materials at our current rate, in our lifetime, we will start to see magnified changes that we are already hearing about today. We’re talking about polar icecaps melting, shrinking shore lines, more intense hurricanes and extinction of plant and animal species.

Let’s take a look at a few everyday items and understand how long they take to decompose. Take a look at these items and take a guess at how long they take to decompose.
• Banana Peel: 3-4 weeks
• Paper Bag: 1 month
• Cotton Rag: 5 months
• Lumber : 10-15 years
• Aluminum Can : 200-500 years (But if recycled, it can be reused within 6 weeks!)
• Disposable Diapers: 500-600 years
• Plastic Bags : 1 million years
• Styrofoam: Eternity

The reason that I wanted to share these with you is because there are items on this list that you can act on today. You might not be willing to stop using disposable diapers, but you might be willing to use cloth or paper bags for your groceries. If everyone takes a step in the right direction we will be well on our way to a healthier planet.

Cheap, Quick and Easy:
Let’s begin with recycling. A easy first step is to replace or add recycling containers in the majority of the locations where you traditionally had a trash can. We have one in the office, in the bathrooms and the kitchen to name a few. If you don’t have one in the bathroom you would be amazed how much of the waste in that room can be recycled. We recycle all of the toilet paper rings, soap packaging, lotion and shampoo bottles. It’s simply a shift in habit. If you install this same practice for the office, you’ll find it’s practically garbage free.

If you live in the city of Denver, simply go on line to to order a free bin that will be deliver to your home and an email will remind you the night before to put it out! Or you can simply dial 311 on your phone and order one. It’s that simple. There are so many things that we are doing by recycling. We are saving energy, landfill space, saving money, creating new jobs, reducing air and water pollution while preserving habitat for wildlife. By recycling we are expanding the life of a material and avoiding the overflow of the landfill.

Many of you have heard about switching your incandesecent lights out for Compact Florescent lights. When I heard about switching I figured as a bulb burned out I would replace it with a florescent until I really thought about the concept. The florescent bulb costs about $1.50, but typically the new florescent bulbs use _ of the energy that that an incandescent bulb uses and will last up to 10 times longer. Just switching to florescents you can save $50 in the life of the bulb.

Where do I dispose of them? You probably won’t have to change the bulb for 7 years and you can recycle them at any Ace Hardware store- I believe there are 109 locations in the city of Denver alone. On all of the packages there is a symbol that shows the type of light- either blue or yellow. Yellow is most similar to an incandescent.

Another rumor is that if you break the bulb you have to call in the men with the moon suits to clean the containments. The Colorado Health Department states all you have to do is use a stiff piece of paper to gather the bulb pieces and place it all into a glass jar, and dial 311 for drop off locations near you. And then use a damp paper towel and clean up anything else.

If every American home replaced just one light bulb, we would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes for a year, more than $600 million in annual energy costs, and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to more than 800,000 cars.

Two of the easiest things to do if you are looking to make a huge impact with a little effort would be Sealing leaks and adding insulation. If you have an open attic, throw some new clean R-38 insulation and add weather stripping to your doors and windows.

Consider adding insulation in the ceiling above to encourage the heat to remain on the finished floors. The EPA says by making these changes can save up to 20% on your utility bills!

Most homes today have a hot water heater, but when was the last time you checked what it is set at? Set your hot water heater to 120 degrees. This temperature is safer for you and your family for it reduces the possibility of scalding and it will use less energy maintaining the lower temperature which saves you money.

Change you’re appliance settings. Set your laundry machine to cold and you save $85 per year and yes your clothes will still be clean without a special cold water detergent.

Set your dishwasher to air dry and you’ll up to $30 /yr. And most importantly, remember to only run either machine when they are full- there is no need to be wasteful.

When considering these appliances, take into account the detergent that you use as well. The detergent is just as important as how you use the machine. Switching to a more eco-friendly detergent is as simple as picking up a different bottle at the grocery store. Many local stores, King Soopers, Safeway, Sunflower Market and Whole Foods carry these eco friendly brands.

Concentrated products that contain less filler, which means smaller packaging and less energy in shipping. So don’t just look at the size and compare prices. Look for the number of loads for a true comparison. Many of these products are actually cheaper. Non-ecofriendly detergents contain chemicals which have negative effects on the environment, not to mention your family. The EPA shows a connection between chlorine, upper repository and lung irritation, and potentially even certain forms of cancer. Get that stuff out of your house and consider a biodegradable, ozone safe and product that is safe for the environment and all its occupants.

Purchasing Green Energy from Xcel is an easy way to support the cause. The cost of green energy is slightly increased which correlates to the electric commodity. This month it was a $6 increase and they say typically it will be under a $20. The money supports the production and development of green power primarily through wind power farmed in Laramie and Lamar WY. This energy is clean and not releasing greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. Your purchase is called buying carbon offsets. Go to or give them a call and ask for Wind Source Energy.

Moderately Priced and Less Convenient:
There are many ways to change your energy bill when talking about your furnace. It is recommended that you change your filter, or rinse it out, ideally once a month. This could reduce your bill by 5%.

Another option is to install a programmable thermostat and then actually program it. Program the system to fit your lifestyle. You can purchase one for under $100 and it will easily pay for its self within one year. This adjustment will save you at least 10% on your utility bill.

Lastly, by turning your temperature down 3 degrees will save you $115 a year. Those three tips alone could save you 25%.

But here’s the real kicker. If your furnace is more than 20 years old, it is time to purchase a new one. Modern furnaces are typically between 20%-30% more efficient.

Energy Star Appliances
Consider all of the appliances that you have plugged in to your home. Washing machines, dishwasher, computers, water heaters, TV’s, air conditions, ceiling fans, lights... the list goes on. All of these appliances are constaintly sucking energy from your home. Consider switching to Energy Star appliances on your next purchase. Energy star appliances save you between 10–50% depending on the model.

GE energy star refrigerators are at least 50% more energy efficient than refrigerators 10 years ago. Check out for an entire list of products.

Low flow fixtures
If your home was built before 1992 then it is very likely that you don’t have a 1.6 gallon flush toilet which is today’s minimal requirements. Older models used 6 gallons per flush.

Consider a dual flush toilet that uses either 1.6 or.8 gallons per flush. These toilets save up to 18,000 gallons per year. There are also low flow faucets and shower heads which could reduce your hot water consumption by 10% by aerating the water. You don’t feel the difference, but it consumes less. Denver Water is providing rebates.

There are many ways in which to reduce the water consumption in your yard. Consider changing the time that you water. Denver water recommends watering before 10:00 am and after 6:00 pm.

Look at the types of system in which you water as well. Traditional sprinklers are 30% - 50% less efficient than drip lines which dispense water directly to the plants root system. This system eliminates the humidification of the air and provides the roots with the water that they desire. Add bark chips to help further reduce evaporation.

Lastly, install a rain sensor what detects the moisture and adjusts your system automatically and they are cheap starting at about $35. These systems save between 25%- 40%. Denver water provides rebates for upgrading your system in either of these ways.

And the final tip on landscaping is about grass. Kentucky Blue grass belongs in Kentucky! Kentucky Blue grass actually demands the most water and chemicals to stay looking healthy. If you are considering making changes to your landscaping and not ready to dive into xeriscaping, then consider a native species that will use considerably less water, less fertilizer, pesticides and maintenance while still getting the beautiful green grass. Mountain hardy works well and it is hard to distinguish from the old favorite. Again Denver water is providing rebates!

More Difficult and Pricey:
Other ways to help beat this Colorado heat is to control the heat that enters your home in the first place. Windows alone provide 40% of the heat transfer into and out of our homes which means a lot more energy to condition the air. Here are a few ideas for you. Simply closing your shades at night and that will save you up to $100 a year.

In the hot months, try to block the direct sun rays from hitting the windows and in the winter months allow for as much direct contact as possible. Consider planting a deciduous tree to block these rays.

Another option would be to consider transparent film which filters out 99% of all damaging ultraviolet rays- I know that many of you can relate to that sofa and rung that just doesn’t look as bright as it once did. Films also reflect up to 78% of the sun’s heat.

A more costly consideration, but possibly the most effective is to replace your old windows with new low-e windows. A study of identical homes comparing Low-E to ordinary dual-pane glass showed 25% in savings on cooling bills and 10% on heating bills. The ironic part is that the majority of older homes actually have single pane glass.

Another option is solar or a Photovoltaic System. They work by capturing and converting the direct sun beams into electricity. There are three different types of systems out there. Off the grid, hybrid and grid connected.

A grid connected system is the most common in populated areas and they reduces your reliance for energy from the utility company by placing PV panels on your roof or property. There are rebates on many systems through the end of the year.

Let’s run the rough calculations quickly. For a 1700 to 2000 sqft house you might be looking at about a 3 kilowatt system which would be approximately 15 panels. Roughly a system of this size would run about $26,000. Currently with all of the rebates and tax credits that are available you would actually only pay about $7,500.

How many of you have heard of a solar heated hot water system? Approximately 25% of your homes energy consumption goes to heating water for dish washers, laundry machines and showers. These systems are panels that contain water filled tubes which are heated by the sun throughout the day and then used in your home. These systems pay for themselves quickly and there are rebates up to $3000.

Some of you may have heard of Geothermal heat pump. These systems tap into and draw from the stable temperatures just below the frost line to aid in the heating or cooling of your homes furnace. An average system for a home cost between $10,000 and $20,000, however, they will cut your energy costs by up to 2/3rds which will pay for it in 5-12 years. They are more efficient than any top of the line gas furnace.

If you are looking for a new car, don’t just consider miles per gallon- even though it’s hard not to with those rising gas prices, but also look at the recyclability of the car, quality of emissions and even alternative fuels. For existing cars, changing your air filter and checking the pressure in your tires can increase your gas mileage by 15 %. Also consider public transportation. It doesn’t just save on emissions, but when you consider gas and parking fares it can also save you considerable money.