Go Green: Small changes can mean large gains in being energy efficient

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In this column, staff at the Center for EcoTechnology offer advice on easy ways for people — and businesses — to introduce green changes in their daily lives. For the past 40 years, CET has helped people and businesses in Massachusetts save energy and reduce waste.

QEarth Day is coming up, and it's got me thinking about living a little greener, but I don't want to change my whole life all at once. Are there any ways I can ease into a more sustainable lifestyle?

AAbsolutely. At CET, we like to stretch Earth Day out and celebrate all of April as Earth Month. It's a reminder that even smaller actions taken daily can add up to a big impact — anything you do to go green helps! Here are some of our favorite tips you can use all year long to help you save energy, reduce waste and put some money back in your wallet:

- Get a no-cost home energy assessment through Mass Save, an initiative sponsored by Massachusetts' gas and electric utilities and energy efficiency service providers, including the Berkshire Gas Company, Columbia Gas of Massachusetts, Cape Light Compact, Eversource, National Grid, Liberty Utilities and Unitil. It is designed to help identify opportunities to save energy in your home. In addition to instant measures, like installation of free LED light bulbs, programmable thermostats and water-saving devices, your Mass Save energy specialist will provide a custom list of energy-saving recommendations and help you develop a plan to make your home more energy efficient. Visit masssave.com for more information and to schedule your home energy assessment.

- Use a programmable thermostat. Schedule your temperature control and set it 8 degrees back at night and when you're not home. Setting your thermostat back can save a lot of energy, and that means saving money.

- Think reusable, not disposable. Ditch bottled water for a reusable water bottle. Make coffee at home and bring it to work in a travel mug. Use a reusable bag when shopping instead of taking plastic bags. All of these methods can save you money (some grocery stores will give you a few cents off your order for every reusable bag you bring), and they all help our environment by putting less material into landfills.

- Donate and buy reuse. Clothes, furniture, building materials — the world of reuse is waiting for you. If you have something you won't use, but someone else might, donate it. Shop in thrift stores or reused building materials stores to bring the savings home.

- Righting your lighting. According to the Department of Energy, LED and CFL bulbs equivalent to a 60 watt incandescent bulb use about 75 percent less energy than the incandescent. Wouldn't you like to save 75 percent on your lighting costs? Also, always make sure to turn off lights when you're not in a room. Make some easy lighting changes and watch your savings pile up.

For more easy tips to help you celebrate Earth Month all year long, visit us at cetonline.org or call 413-445-4556! Happy Earth Month!

Look out for this column every two weeks, and send Go Green questions to GoGreen@cetonline.org.

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