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Global Stewards - Green Eco Tips for Sustainable Living

Take the Three Step Zero-Volt Challenge to Permanently Reduce Your Carbon Footprint!

Looking for ways to reduce your carbon footprint and save money? Permanently reduce your electric bill quickly and easily with the zero-volt challenge! This is a fun activity for your family and/or as a school project. It raises awareness of specifically how energy is being consumed in your home and can lead to future conservation discussions and efforts within your family or school. If this is a family project consider adding this to your calendar as a quick annual carbon checkup. If this is a school project, consider running a Zero-Volt (or 'Stop Wasting Energy!') contest to raise awareness about how much energy we waste mindlessly.

According to UNEP, in order to limit global temperature increase to 1.5°C, we must drop our greenhouse gas emissions 7.6% each year between 2020 and 2030. Every step you take to decrease energy consumption helps!.

The Problem:

With so many household devices - both appliances and electronics - in use today, it's easy to lose track of how many we're paying to keep plugged in that aren't actually adding any value to our lives. Many modern devices use a surprising amount of standby power when turned off - up to a whopping 25% of your electric bill could just go toward powering idle devices. Other devices, such as second refrigerators or freezers, cost hundreds of dollars a year to run, but may not be worth the extra expense. And some unused devices may simply have been plugged in at some point in the past and forgotten. And, finally, if any light fixtures still have old incandescent bulbs, these cost considerably more to use than LED bulbs.

Reduce Your Carbon Footprint - Conserve Energy with the Zero-Volt Challenge!The Solution:

Quickly identify and minimize unneeded expenses in three easy steps:

  1. Print Worksheet: Print one or more copies of the zero-volt worksheet
  2. Reduce Your Electric Meter to Zero: Walk through your home and garage, switching off heating/cooling as needed (even if gas-powered, some electricity may be used), turning off lights and unplugging devices*- refrigerator last - until your outside electric meter stops running. List everything that is turned off or unplugged on the worksheets, adding notes as you go of additional opportunities to save:

    • Smart Power Strip Needed: consider buying smart power strips for frequently used devices that consume standby power so that they shut down completely when turned off.
    • Unplug It!: For less frequently used devices, consider only plugging them in (or turning on at outlet) when needed (i.e., extra TVs, unused entertainment electronics, guest room devices, computer accessories, small kitchen appliances, device chargers (use energy even when not charging), garage equipment).
    • LED Bulb or Filter Needed: If you notice any incandescent bulbs in your light fixtures, make a note to switch these to LED. If it's an outdoor light or a frequently used closet light, switching to a motion and light sensitive bulb can cut expenses further. Also make a note of any needed filters for your heater, air conditioner and/or air cleaner to improve efficiency.
    • Power Down When Asleep and Away: Flag any devices that can be powered down nightly and before heading out to avoid wasting money and energy on unneeded devices.
  3. Turn Back On Only What's Needed: Walk back through your home and garage, re-plugging and turning on only what's really needed and adds enough value to be worth your hard earned money to power. Since the refrigerator is pulled out, take a moment to clean the refrigerator coils to boost efficiency.

* Important Only unplug a device if it is safe for both you and the device!

This is a great time to check for water leaks: While you're at it, take a moment to turn off any running water and check the water meter to make sure it's zero. This is a quick way to find hidden leaks (the most common being a leaking toilet flapper).