The Efficient Life

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Slate has launched a project called "The Efficient Life" that collects everyday tips on how to save energy. Daniel Gross, senior editor at Newsweek and Slate columnist, discusses the new endeavor.


Daniel Gross

Comments [29]

Veronnica from Florida

-I lived in a home in the NYC tri-state area for 20 years. I NEVER USED A CLOTHES DRYER. If you have an attic that you can stand up in, hang a clothes line. Other than the dead of Winter, the clothes would dry in 30-45 minutes.

-Pay attention to the temperature of your hot water tank. If you have to add cold water to your full force hot water, than you are wasting energy. Very hot water reduces the life of clothes when they are washed; hot water can accidently hurt you especially in a shower or if you have children; if you have a dish washer, there is a heating element in the machine that increases the temperature.

Mar. 11 2010 12:46 PM
Laurie Spiegel from Tribeca

Meryl from Brooklyn, thank you for bringing up the planetary over-population problem. We are such resource hogs in this country that each additional US-based human being contributes far more to all kinds of global resource depletion and pollution than several individuals in other parts of the world.

As a "conscientious non-procreator" myself I'd like to add to what you say that supporting the right to abortion, gay marriage and access to family planning services and education and equal rights for women worldwide will do more for the planet and all living beings on it than all the lightbulb change-overs people are so proud of.

It's a mystery that when carbon footprints, water, energy, food and other kinds of limited-resource consumption are discussed almost never do we see the increase in population mentioned. People are afraid of being accused of discrimination, even genocide. But it is every bit as genocidal to continue increasing the population while disproportionate percentages of all types of natural resources are hogged by the wealthy nations.

Mar. 10 2010 12:16 PM
Meryl from Brooklyn NY

Seriously people - the most effective thing that you can do is to address the problem of over population. Only have 2 kids or God forbid have none! What a concept! Why is it that NO ONE ever talks about this. Is there some kind of taboo on this topic? PLEASE do a show on this. One good discussion of this is at the end of the book "The World Without Us."

Mar. 09 2010 12:04 PM
Naomi from Brooklyn

Bernard Joseph, yes you do.

Mar. 09 2010 11:33 AM
Judy Rubin from Westchester, Ny

After several discussions with my husband about how high our electricity bills are and several adjustments in the thermostat each night, he bought me a Cozy Sheep

Bed and Body Warmer

Microwave for moist heat therapy to relax sore muscles, improve circulation and flexibility.

which I put in my bed a 1/2 hour before going to sleep.

Now we don't fight, the thermostat stays low and I'm warm & cozy.

P.S. He got himself one, too.

Mar. 09 2010 11:16 AM
Paul from Orange, NJ

Regarding the listener who advised line-drying clothes, if there are communal "rules" or norms or condo bans discouraging or prohibiting the practice there is a simple alternative. Hang your clothes INDOORS to dry. This is also quite common in Europe, and I observed it (and we-my wife and son did it) in small apartments and houses from Belgium to Poland. No excuses for using that electric dryer!

Mar. 09 2010 11:12 AM
Vanessa from Hastings-on-Hudson

(See below for rest of comment.) Whenever possible, however -- which is all but a couple of weekends a year -- we hang those on our outside lines, with clothes pins. If it's cold but dry, it takes only a little longer to dry outside -- and can always "fluff" them in the dryer for a minute or two if we want. It does take a little more time but seems well worth the vast savings. Someone should start a campaign to get more Americans to give this a try.

Mar. 09 2010 11:12 AM
Vanessa from Hastings-on-Hudson

(See below and above for rest of comment.) We have a set of collapsible drying racks in our dining room -- any time of day, night, or year we can and do hang laundry there. Plus, this means less wear 'n tear on the clothes. We also have a British drying rack attached to the ceiling of our laundry room -- it's a rope & pulley device suitable for hanging large towels and sheets.

Mar. 09 2010 11:11 AM
Suzanne from Yorkville

I'm not sure why the guest was so dismissive of the using a clothesline suggestion ('If you want to come over to my house in the cold of winter, fine'). I wouldn't expect such dismissiveness from a guest whose purpose is looking into the efficient life. Sure, not everyone can do it (I can't right now, I live in an apartment building), but it saves energy/money and clothes also smell nice dried that way.

Mar. 09 2010 11:11 AM
Vanessa from Hastings-on-Hudson

Re the enormous cost and energy savings available by hanging up laundry instead of using the dryer: we never use the dryer except when we need a particular item dried fast in an emergency. It doesn't matter WHAT the weather is like if you hang up your laundry INSIDE. (See above for rest of comment.)

Mar. 09 2010 11:10 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

Keeping your old tube TV also saves a lot of energy and heavy metal waste over buying energy hogging LED, LCD, and plasma models.

Mar. 09 2010 11:07 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

Exactly on the “right to dry” issue. It is that people leave their laundry out not until it is dry but until they can drag themselves out and take it in. Maybe if neighbors had the common decency to take it in in a timely fashion, it would be less of an issue. People in gated communities who have paid 50% too much to live like mini kings and queens in McMansions don’t literally want to see their neighbors airing their formerly dirty laundry on the 400 square feet of lawn they got with their 4000 square foot house. They paid for the magazine perfect look and that’s what they want, not their neighbors Victoria Secretes and superman sheets flapping in the breeze.

Mar. 09 2010 11:04 AM
Elvira from Brooklyn

I haven't had a clothes dryer in my home (or my parents home) in all my 50 something years. I live in a 2 family house and we hang out our laundry in the good weather (anything over 35 degrees) or else hang in the house on wooden racks.

PS never had a dish washer either.

Mar. 09 2010 11:03 AM

Here's some good advice too - Use your oven sparingly - so many people use it to heat up just a few things. This is extremely wasteful. We plan one oven day a week. All our baking happens on that day only. This has saved us mucho $$!

Mar. 09 2010 11:01 AM
bernard joseph from brooklyn

do you need a permit to put a solar panel on rooftops in nyc?

Mar. 09 2010 11:00 AM
Laurie Spiegel from Tribeca

I should do a lot better on this one myself, but a lot of energy can be saved by living more in sync with natural daylight so as to use less artificial lighting, heating etc.

Also there are so small things that never get mentioned: Heat beverages just a little less hot, set your monitor screen or computer window colors to dark backgrounds, play music a little less loudly, turn any knob just a little less high - hot water, thermostat, stereo, screen brightness, eat foods that require less cooking and require that fewer utensils be washed.

Mar. 09 2010 10:58 AM
Lee from Scarsdale

Don't fly so much

Mar. 09 2010 10:58 AM
Lee from Scarsdale

Keep your old car.

Mar. 09 2010 10:58 AM
Naomi from Brooklyn

I have been active in the energy industry for almost a year and though there are many Enron-esque companies in NYCs deregulated market, there are smaller marketers that can save you a decent amount of money on your natural gas bill.
People are just very mistrustfull of us.

I also work for a solar energy company and the biggest obstacle I come up against is the investment upfront. It's an expensive, lengthy process that involves permits and roof apraisals.

Mar. 09 2010 10:57 AM
Lee from Scarsdale

Leave the door to your boiler room open in the winter, then close it during the summer.

Mar. 09 2010 10:57 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

What about requiring easily readable electric meters INSIDE apts/houses so people can know how much electricity they're using in real time on a day to day basis. It's silly it can be done for cell phone minutes but not electricity.

Mar. 09 2010 10:56 AM
Leslie Garisto from Nutley, NJ

An easy way to save energy is to use a window fan, which pulls in cooler outside air, at night instead of air conditioning. I use one on all but the hottest nights and actually prefer it to AC.

Mar. 09 2010 10:55 AM
Maria Spencer from Brooklyn - Ft. Greene

We live on the 10th floor of a 30-unit condo building with central air, and discovered this winter that for the most part that the heat in our building heats our condo and we don't need to turn on our heat at all. We turn it on for an hour or so first thing in the morning and are able to keep it off the rest of the time. We also saved easily $1000 this past summer by buying a few fans and not turning on the air conditioner.

Mar. 09 2010 10:55 AM
Glenn from Brooklyn

Use a (high-quality) toaster oven for most of your oven cooking. We realized that 85% of the time we used our full sized oven, it was for something small, which could have been cooked more efficiently in a toaster oven. The toaster oven heats up much quicker and uses less power.

Mar. 09 2010 10:55 AM
NINA from Brooklyn

I work in a school where we have a "recycling center." Parents and teachers bring in empty plastic containers, beer caps, wrapping paper scraps, etc., and the children turn them into art projects or use them for experiments.

Mar. 09 2010 10:54 AM
Dave Schmetterer from Red Bank, NJ

Keep an old computer going. Add RAM, switch from Windows to Linux - lots of Linux Operating Systems run really well on old hardware, and do everything you need for everyday tasks! E-Waste is a problem we'll be dealing with for generations.

Mar. 09 2010 10:53 AM
Robert Markuske from brooklyn

I use a solar powered and crank radio to listen to wnyc

Mar. 09 2010 10:53 AM
hjs from 11211

don't eat beef

Mar. 09 2010 10:53 AM
bernard joseph from brooklyn

i was just in greece and in the city of athens EVERY rooftop has a solar panel on top of it. of course it's not the sole source of energy for these houses but it supplements it and over the course of a year, creates a significant amount of energy.

Mar. 09 2010 10:52 AM

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