The Green-Belt Movement

A tipsheet for butt-kicking energy-saving moves.

white belt: no-brainers Switch to CFL bulbs. Turn off lights when you leave the room. Set the thermostat to 68° in winter, 78° in summer. Turn down the water heater to 120°. Wash clothes in cold water and air or line dry them. Use rechargeable batteries. Recycle. Compost. Take mass transit. Ride your bike. Carpool. Drive 55. Walk to the store. Set your fridge to 37°. Set your freezer to 5° and keep it full (use containers filled with water). Turn off the dry cycle on your dishwasher. If it’s yellow, let it mellow. Unplug “energy vampires” like TVs, DVD players, and iPod chargers when not in use.

yellow belt: some assembly required Install motion-activated light switches. Use low-flow showerheads. Use a power-consumption meter to track down energy vampires. Choose a power supplier that uses renewable energy. Support renewable power by paying a premium on your electric bills (“green pricing”). Insulate your home. Eat local. Use a laptop. Learn to drive stick.

green belt: kill a watt Convert your fridge to run on propane. Switch your home energy source from electric to gas. Use a solar oven. Buy only Energy Star-rated appliances. Get a front-loading washing machine. Install an on-demand water heater. Install double-glazed windows, or retrofit old ones. Apply for a “green mortgage” and get lower interest rates for your energy-efficient home.

brown belt: technical knockouts Install a gray-water system…or two-stage flush toilets…or composting toilets. Use “daylighting” products such as solar tubes, and a parabolic reflector. Install photovoltaic panels on your roof. Install a condensing boiler for central heat. Get motorized combustion air dampers. Replace your fireplace with a high-efficiency woodstove. Power your fridge with cold air from outside with a Freeaire system. Replace your furnace and AC with a geothermal heat pump—and upgrade it to heat your water.

black belt: you have the power Convert your hybrid to a plug-in. Use your solar array to sell power back to the grid on sunny days. Produce your own energy from biogas. Get yourself a wind turbine.