Steps Texans Can Take to Make a Difference on Earth Day

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Green Mountain Energy Company offers 40 tips for 40th anniversary of Earth Day

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to change the way power is made.

Thursday, April 22 is the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day, an event many people around the world will celebrate by focusing on ways to reduce pollution, protect nature and lower their personal impact on the environment. Earth Day began in 1970 as an annual day to recognize the wonders and beauty of our planet and has evolved into a week-long – and in some cases, month-long – celebration.

Earth Day reminds us why it’s important to consider how each action we take affects the environment for years to come – a principle that Green Mountain Energy Company embraces on a daily basis. In 1997, the company was founded to change the way power is made. Nearly 13 years later, Green Mountain remains the only retail electricity provider in the nation that’s dedicated to this mission. This commitment to the environment is why, in honor of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, Green Mountain offers the following 40 simple tips for how people can make a difference on Earth Day – and every day.

Green Mountain’s 40 Earth Day Tips for 2010
1. Flip the Switch to Cleaner Electricity. Hundreds of thousands of Texas residents are already making a difference for the environment by purchasing cleaner, renewable Green Mountain Energy® electricity. Since the traditional production of electricity is the leading cause of industrial air pollution in the U.S., purchasing cleaner energy is one of the easiest things Texans can do to reduce their household’s share of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions….even easier than recycling!
2. Leave your Car at Home. The majority of the pollution caused by cars occurs within the first few minutes of driving, and most trips are within two miles of home. Try taking a bike or a walk next time and help remove 7 pounds of pollutants out of the air – not to mention all the money you’ll save on gas.
3. Down with Phantom Energy. "Phantom" energy loads occur in most appliances that use electricity, such as TVs, stereos, computers, and kitchen appliances. In the average home, 25 percent of the electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while the products are turned off. This can be avoided by unplugging the appliance or using a power strip and using the switch on the power strip to cut all power to the appliance.
4. Upgrade to EPA’s ENERGY STAR-Certified Products. Switching to ENERGY STAR appliances can save you up to 30 percent on the energy needed to run them – or more than $400 per year. They use less energy, save money, and help protect the environment.
5. Switch to Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs. CFLs last 10 times longer and use about 72 percent less energy than a standard bulb.
6. Recycle More. You can save as much as 2,400 pounds of CO2 emissions per year by recycling just half of your household waste.
7. Say No to Plastic Bags. When shopping, bring a reusable bag to carry your purchases. A plastic bag can take an astonishing 500 years to decompose.
8. Eco-Friendly Printing Habits. Did you know that the average U.S. office worker goes through 10,000 sheets of copy paper a year? That's a lot of trees. Make sure your printer is set to the 2-sided option or use the back side of old documents for faxes, scrap paper, or drafts. Avoid color printing and print in draft mode whenever feasible.
9. Drip, Drip. Water is one of the world's most precious resources. Aerators on your household’s faucets and low-flow toilets can help you save water without even thinking about it. Also, be sure to fix that leaky faucet! A single dripping water faucet can waste 212 gallons of water a month.
10. It's Raining, It's Pouring…. Yes, April showers are in the air -- and with them come beautiful green yards, spring flowers and….wasted water. Don't let it go! Capturing that rainwater in barrels or rain tanks is an extremely effective way to store your own pure rainwater for future lawn and garden needs. A single rain barrel can save approximately 1,300 gallons of water during peak summer months.
11. Seal it Up: Don’t let that Cool Air Go! As you start thinking about cranking up your A/C for the first time this season, be sure that all of your windows and doors have adequate sealing on them. Caulking and weather stripping can prevent air leaks and keep you from paying to air condition the great outdoors.
12. A Clean Car. Nice to Look at, Nicer Gas Mileage. How much extra "stuff" gets to ride around in your car with you each day? Most of us could probably stand to unload at least a few extra pounds from our cars -- and less weight means better gas mileage.
13. Does This Compute? Desktop computers use significantly more energy than laptops; so if you're getting ready to recycle that old PC, consider purchasing a laptop the next time around. It'll help your energy bill and the environment.
14. Spring Clean. Don’t Forget to Change Those Filters. Clogged, dirty HVAC filters block normal air flow and reduce your system’s efficiency significantly, wasting electricity and money. Be sure to make regular HVAC changes a part of your household routine.
15. Can Fido Be Green Too? Is there a way to raise a "green pet"? Sure! You can purchase items such as natural pet foods, chemical-free shampoos, sustainable fiber toys and biodegradable doggy poop bags and make your pets as “green” as you are.
16. Mr. Sun, Mr. Sun. As the summer heat quickly approaches, be sure you have blinds or shades on your windows to keep those strong sun rays out. Blinds that are highly reflective can reduce the heat gain in your home by almost 45%.
17. Cold Water Does the Trick. Did you know that most of the laundry you do doesn't need to be washed in hot water? Cold water doesn't require any energy to heat up, which is better for energy consumption. Many detergents have now been designed to work just as well in cold water, too.
18. A Green Kitchen. Many companies are now making environmentally-friendly products for your kitchen, such as bamboo cutting boards and petroleum-free ceramics. Much better for the planet -- and your health!
19. Here Birdie, Birdie. Want to rid your garden of pests in an eco-friendly way? Try hanging a nesting box, putting out some bird seed and allowing the birds to nest in your garden. They love to snack on pests like snails and slugs – no chemicals.
20. Cruising Around. Using cruise control on the highway helps you maintain a constant speed and, in most cases, will save gas.
21. Trees are our Friends. Not only are trees beautiful to look at, they are also one of the best friends we have when it comes to offsetting harmful carbon dioxide from the air. A single tree can absorb 2,000 pounds of CO2 over its lifetime. So get out there, enjoy the lovely spring weather and plant a tree!
22. Give Your Mailbox Some Breathing Room. Do away with those mailing lists. Nearly 62 million trees are destroyed to produce the office supply catalog or corporate credit card offer on your desk every day. Call the company to have your name removed from the list.
23. Spring Time Means Grilling Time. Gas grills are cleaner burning, more efficient and easier to use than charcoal grills. If you’re not ready to make the switch, then replace easy-light charcoal with wood briquettes.
24. Trade in the Paper and Plastic for the Real Deal. Next time you entertain guests, step it up a notch and break out the real plates, utensils and cloth napkins -- and forget the paper and plastic fake stuff. The environment will thank you.
25. Embrace Your Farmer’s Market. Did you know that an average U.S. meal will travel over 1,000 miles (usually by air) before it finally lands on your plate? Shopping at your local farmers' markets gives the environment a break by reducing the CO2 emissions incurred when transporting food from long distances.
26. Simmer Down Now and Save Money. Lowering the thermostat on your water heater by 10ºF can save you between 3%–5% in energy costs. Most households only require a water heater thermostat setting of 120ºF, or even 115ºF. So follow this tip and help both the environment and your wallet.
27. A Good Excuse to Stay Home. The average American plane trip equals about 814 miles. If you travel domestically, that’s about 527 pounds of CO2 per trip. A good reason to choose a conference call over a work trip once in a while.
28. Keep the AC Bills Down While the Weather Heats Up. As the weather outside begins to heat up, remember to set your thermostat to 78°F or higher when at home and 85°F when you’re not. Doing this can save up to three percent off your bill for each degree it is set above 72°F. This effort can be made easier by installing a programmable thermostat.
29. Your Eco-Friendly Patio. Spring time is the best time for lounging on your patio or deck and perhaps even eating outside (before the heat and bugs set in!). If you're in the market for new patio furniture, look for some that's been made out of recycled or earth-friendly materials, such as reclaimed lumber or recycled Poly-wood.
30. Leaving for the Day, Make Sure Your Computer’s Turned Off. Office equipment and electronics use energy even when idle or on stand-by. Make sure to use the power management features on your computer and monitor, unplug laptop power cords when not in use and turn off equipment and lights at the end of the day.
31. A Little Exercise Could Do -- You and the Environment – Some Good. Walk, ride a bike, or combine trips to reduce driving. If you stopped driving just 20 extra miles per week for one year, you could save about 900 pounds of CO2!
32. Road Trip! Change Those Tires. Don't forget to check your tire pressure regularly. Under-inflation increases tire wear, reduces your fuel economy, and leads to higher greenhouse gas emissions.
33. Making Summer Vacation Plans? Consider a National Park. National parks are a great alternative for your next vacation. Many hotels and resorts offer amenities that are environmentally friendly so enjoy all that nature has to offer.
34. Have Any Birthdays, Anniversaries or Special Occasions Coming Up? Use recycled wrapping paper or reusable gift bags to be a more eco-conscious gift giver. Canvas tote bags can serve as the wrapping and be part of the gift! And, while you are at it, buy your gifts produced by local merchants – which saves shipping-related pollution and excessive packaging.
35. Observe an Eco-Holiday. For one day or afternoon or even hour a week, don’t buy anything, don’t use any machines, don’t switch on anything electric, don’t cook, don’t answer your phone, and, in general, don’t use any resources. In other words, for this regular period, give yourself and the planet a break.
36. Where Did You Catch That Fish? Next time you’re eyeing that tasty-looking piece of salmon for the grill, be sure to ask where it was caught: in the wild or farm-raised? Farm-raised salmon have often been overfed toxin-laden food.
37. What’s in the Lunch Bag? Try packing a waste-free lunch. Trade in those plastic utensils, paper bags and paper napkins for more eco-friendly options instead: reusable totes and containers, real silverware and cloth napkins.
38. Put a Lid on It. Foods in covered pans begin boiling or steaming faster, which allows you to use lower temperature settings. Lower settings mean less energy is used. Less energy means less money.
39. Baking Soda – the Magic Ingredient. No need to spend lots of money on fancy household cleaners (that likely also contain harmful chemical ingredients). Good ole baking sola is non-toxic and when mixed with a little water makes for a great cleanser for tubs, sinks and other surfaces. All for less than a dollar!
40. Make Every Day Earth Day! Make a pledge starting with Earth Day 2010 to live “greener” at home, at the office and in your community by Making Every Day Earth Day. Green Mountain is encouraging people to take action to help the environment my making a personal resolution today.

About Green Mountain Energy Company
Green Mountain, the nation’s leading competitive retail provider of cleaner energy and carbon offset solutions, was founded in 1997 “to change the way power is made.” The company is the longest serving green power marketer in the U.S. and in 2009 was ranked the “Highest in Business Customer Satisfaction with Retail Electric Service” by J.D. Power and Associates1. Green Mountain offers consumers and businesses the choice of clean electricity products from renewable sources such as wind and water, as well as a variety of carbon offset products. Green Mountain customers have collectively helped avoid over 11.3 billion pounds of CO2 emissions. For more information, visit GreenMountain.com.

1Green Mountain Energy Company received the highest numerical score among business electric service retailers in Texas in the proprietary J.D. Power and Associates 2009 Texas Business Retail Electric Provider Satisfaction StudySM. Study based on responses from 2,231 businesses measuring 7 retailers and measures opinions of businesses with their electric service provider. Proprietary study results are based on experiences and perceptions of consumers surveyed May-June and September-October 2009. Your experiences may vary. Visit jdpower.com.

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Marci Grossman

Marci Grossman
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