Global Warming: What's in It for You
A summer film makes the case for living green. So does the cost of gas.
(MONEY Magazine) – THIS SUMMER THE SCARIEST MOVIE at the multiplex isn't your garden-variety horror flick, and it doesn't star anyone named Tom. It's an indie film called An Inconvenient Truth, and it's...a documentary. Not only that, but it's a documentary that on the surface sounds very boring: Al Gore giving a slideshow about science--global warming, to be exact. But it is anything but boring. It is utterly terrifying, in the way that learning that the 10 hottest years in recorded history have all occurred in the past 14 years is terrifying.
The debate over whether global warming is real has all but disappeared (much like the glacier in the photos below) as the facts have mounted. But there is some good news: The solutions aren't limited to trivial stuff anymore, like turning off your lights and keeping your tires inflated. New technology and more innovative conservation techniques mean that using less power can save you more money than ever.
Not that you need a financial incentive to save the planet and all that. But the soaring cost of energy is starting to put some real green into being green. How would you feel about a 66% break on a year's worth of light bills? Or getting 33% better fuel economy? William McDonough and Michael Braungart, authors of the book Cradle to Cradle, say Americans haven't scratched the surface of energy efficiency as an individual practice--odd, they note, given the direct and obvious correlation between conservation and saving money. Here are five tips that go beyond turning off your lights:
• SWITCH TO COMPACT FLUORESCENT LIGHT BULBS (CFLS). They use a third of the energy of regular bulbs, each costs $1.60 a year to run vs. $4.80 for a standard bulb, and they last up to six times as long.
SAVE 66% A YEAR
• BEFORE BUYING ANY APPLIANCE, CONSULT THE FTC'S APPLIANCE ENERGY DATABASE, which ranks devices by energy efficiency (ftc.gov/appliancedata). Replacing a 10-year-old fridge with an Energy Star model would save enough power to light the average household for nearly five months. Possible savings: $100.
• FIX THE FRIDGE. If you close the refrigerator door on a dollar bill and can easily pull it out, you need a tighter seal. Check the manufacturer's website for instructions or for an authorized repair shop. Possible savings: $15 a year.
SAVE $15 A YEAR
• DRIVE NICER. Rapid acceleration and braking can lower your gas mileage by 5% around town and 33% at highway speeds (which is like blowing 15¢ to 96¢ a gallon). Also, observe the speed limit. When you drive faster than 60 mph, you get less mileage for your money (up to 23% less, or 67¢ a gallon).
SAVE 96¢ A GALLON
• BUY A HUMAN POWER GENERATOR MKIII ($497, windstreampower.com, 802-658-0075). Only for the truly dedicated. This stationary-bike-style generator could replace your gym membership. The more you pedal, the more money you can shave off your energy bill. While you're slimming down, your wallet will stay plump.
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