Medford was recently honored with the 2012 Kenneth E. Pickard Municipal Innovation Award by the Massachusetts Muncipal Assocation for our Go Green Medford program. At the reception in honor of the award I had the opportunity to spend some time talking with Sheila McGlynn, wife of Mayor McGlynn. She asked me:
What is it that you do in your home to save energy and money that I’m probably not doing?
That got me to thinking. What AM I doing that others could do easily? What is the best response to a question like this? Here are some good answers:
- Lighting – We replaced all of our incandescent light bulbs with CFLs and now we are slowly swapping them out for LEDs.
- Programmable thermostat – We installed and programmed two thermostats years ago. As our family has changed we have re-assessed where we set the thermostats. Now we tend to have it set back during the days and when family members are cold, first they put on sweaters and sweatshirts, and then, only if needed, we turn the heat up. Right now, there is a great deal on thermostats for customers that heat with natural gas.
- Energy Vampires – We looked critically at what was plugged in, why they were plugged in and when they could be unplugged to cut down on the energy vampires in our home.
- Home energy assessment and air sealing – In Massachusetts we have a great program mandated by the state where utility companies collect an energy efficiency charge and then provide free home energy assessment and air sealing services to residents. Medford residents can call a special number: 855-838-7817 to make an appointment. Please mention "Go Green Medford" as part of a special residential program the City is running.
- Insulation – We had our home insulated. The cost before any rebates and incentives was about $4,000 and after rebates and tax incentives, it cost us $500. We cut our home heating bill almost in half.
- Windows – We use things like storm windows and plastic film to cut down on drafts. Replacing windows is very expensive and not cost effective.
- Driving – We pay attention to how we drive in order to save fuel.
We also do things to save money and lessen our impact on the environment through products and chemicals we bring into the house
- Fabric Softener – I use vinegar in the rinse cycle instead of fabric softener
- Gardening – I have a garden and I include my children in everything from planning to maintenance to harvesting.
- Composting – We compost vegetable food scraps, dryer lint, coffee grinds and plants to make our own soil enhancement and cut down on our waste going to landfills.
- Cloth Diapers – Cloth diapers save you thousands of dollars over the life of a child – especially one that doesn’t potty train early! They also save 237 gallons of crude oil per child, used to make disposable diapers.
- Line Dry Laundry – Hanging our laundry takes time and effort, but when we do it we notice the impact on our gas bill.
- Pests – We use natural methods to get rid of pests like ants, fruit flies and slugs. This cuts down on expensive, poisonous insecticides.
What do you do to save energy and money? I know that many Medford residents are even greener than I am!