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Day 27

Today we’re going to talk about appliances. Do you know how much power you use? Do you know how much you could save?

Remember how you dutifully scrubbed out your fridge way back in week 1? It’s time to do a secondary inspection, but this time we’re looking at seals. Cracked seals can cause your fridge to leak cold air, which reduces its energy efficiency. I know this because I am living with a noisy motor that is crying out to be cooled! If I weren’t doing zero waste, I would probably assume I just had to replace the fridge. Not so! The seal can be removed and replaced and your fridge will be pacified because it will stop sucking up energy trying to frantically cool itself. Other signs to look for/ways to care for your fridge? I’ve got you covered – check the 9 tips listed here: http://www.momentumenergy.com.au/habitat/at-home/fridge-energy-efficiency-tips/

How about a washing machine? It depends how much you fill it – but don’t overfill! For me, I’ve noticed that since I’ve decluttered my wardrobe, I now have to wash fairly small loads because I end up running out of clean clothes. What I could do is wash the items I really need by hand while I wait for the load to fill up. If I did that, I think I could double the amount of time I went without having to use the washing machine. And when I do use it, it’s always on cold to save power (and to save my clothes from shrinking!).

One oft quoted fact is that a dishwasher uses less water than washing up by hand. Again, it really depends on how many dishes you wash in one load. If you wait to use your dishwater at full capacity, then it may be just as efficient. However, if you just put a few items in, or don’t bother to do a preliminary rinse of a food caked item, thus necessitating another round in the dishwasher to clear it of crusty food, then a simple hand wash will be quicker and use less water.

There are also some items that you don’t need to wash repeatedly if you’re going to keep using them for the same purpose. A bread or cake knife doesn’t need to be washed every time you slice yourself a new piece of bread and/or cake. You can just keep it in the bag or in the fridge beside your item. Why waste resources and time on chores if you really don’t need to? Less time for washing up, more time for having your cake and eating it, too!

Finally, the dryer. It’s winter, and a lot of people instantly switch to a dryer and don’t look back until summer. Is that necessary? Considering that a dryer uses as much energy as your washing machine, dishwasher and fridge combined, you may want to rethink this approach. If the sun is shining, make use of it – just get your clothes back in before sundown or else they’ll get damp. If your house is heated, then hanging your clothes out to dry inside will have the same effect. Do you really need your clothes dry in 25 minutes? Just because a dryer is preprogrammed for a certain amount of minutes doesn’t mean that’s as long as you really need. Try reducing the time by a third and just see what happens. I recently took my clothes to a laundromat, put them in for a 10 minute cycle and came back an hour later, only to find they were dried to a crisp! Just being in a hot dryer meant they absorbed the heat without the energy cost. Experiment and see what happens!

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Day 24

Welcome to Day 24!

Yesterday we talked about turning power off at the switch – but what about when your power is on?

How about some energy saving globes?
How about some energy saving globes – for free!

Easy Being Green will come out and replace your old incandescent globes with energy saving globes and while they’re at it they’ll also replace your shower head – for free! I’ve pleased to report that I’ve had mine replaced and the water pressure is A-OK.

What’s the catch?
There are some T&Cs associated with the switch – you need to have at least 10 globes to replace, otherwise there’s a call out fee, and if you wanted a different type of globe than the standard refit, it’s a few dollars extra. But, still very low overheads considering they will come to your door and refit you out. The shower head though? This one’s on them! It’s all part of the VEET – Victorian Energy Efficiency Target – scheme, so do your state proud and feel like a responsible citizen while you’re at it.

All kitted out with globe and shower head to boot? Pay it forward, recommend the scheme and make the switch today!

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Day 23

We’re now into the last week of our challenge! Wow! How have you been going with your pledges?

I have to admit, I recently almost buckled under the pressure of my #1 pledge: no packaged chocolate bars. I was bored and procrastinating and so I did what I always do: took myself down the chocolate aisle of the supermarket. It had been so long there were several new flavours just asking to be taste tested – the novelty! The allure! But..I couldn’t do it. What kind of a role model would I be? So, I took the higher ground and looked for a loophole: an unpackaged chocolate bar. I found one that was just packaged in paper, and got that charge of rebellious victory over…myself…but after three weeks of homebaked sweet treats, the supermarket’s offerings just tasted like gritty sugar capsules.

Lesson learnt?
Recognise and acknowledge the times I am bored and procrastinating and give myself something else to do. Keep abstaining from commercial chocolate so that my palate recognises it for what it is – artificial junk food – and rejects it on sight. Stay away from the supermarket. Knowing that I was on the challenge shamed me out of straying from my pledge, but in a week’s time when I lose that sense of accountability, it’s going to get tougher. This is where making zero waste a habit can make the transition easier – when you’re no longer used to doing that thing that is convenient yet wasteful, you build up a resistance to it which can help you to think twice and look for an alternative in the heat of the moment.

Now, on to this week’s challenge!

We’ll be looking at energy efficiency in the home, and we’re going to start small with the humble power point.

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How many of them do you have? Are you currrently using the item they are attached to or are you merely powering a machine on standby? I did not even realise my rangehood had a power socket until I did a thorough investigation. Standby electrical items are said to account for 10% of residential electricity use, so make a habit of turning power points off at the switch and see your bills and your carbon footprint shrink.

All my power points are off thank you very much – where’s my challenge?

How about rethinking an item that you currently power with electricity? I use an electric toothbrush, but recently bought myself a compostable toothbrush to use instead. I was always under the impression that your teeth get a better clean using an electric toothbrush, but after some research online, they say that it’s actually the brushing technique and not the implement that makes the difference. If I can avoid using fossil fuels to create and power my toothbrush just by brushing properly – with my home made toothpaste, no less! – then that will be a big eco win, especially given that I use this every day.

Now, over to you!