(better for the wallet - better for the planet - better for the soul)



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Our new SolarHaven2 Eco-community currently being established in the mountains of Veracruz, Mexico

"Have you hugged your planet today?"

NOTE: If you are already living off-the-grid or planning to, saving every bit of energy you can means just that much less money you have to spend for the equipment you will have to buy to produce your power. If you are still connected to conventional utilities, saving energy means lower bills at the end of the month and of course a much cleaner environment and less strain on the planet's dwindling resources.



1. Replace all incandescent light bulbs with compact flourescent bulbs or CFL light capsules. They can save 60% of the electricity used in lighting. Look for CFL's that have an Energy Star rating on the package. CFL's with the Energy Star rating do not have the problems which many people associate with flourescent lighting such as flickering or color problems. Some of the cheaper CFL's without the rating still do have problems...

2. Replace traditional ‘nightlights' with LED nightlights. These glow with a soft blue or green light and use only 2-3 watts per year instead of the 10-15 watts per hour regular nightlights use.

3. To reduce electricity use in the future, find out what you are using now. You may be surprised. Invest in a "Kil-A-Watt" meter, available many places on the Internet for $40, and begin measuring everything in the house to see how much power they use.


A "vampire" is anything that uses electricity without doing anything really useful (click HERE for an excellent article). Your TV, Stereo, and many other appliances use electricity 24 hours a day even when they are OFF -- just to save a few seconds in warming up to start. Checking with a meter (such as the "Kill-a-Watt meter pictured at the right) may reveal dozens of these tiny energy drains in your house.

One simple way to eliminate several phantom loads at once is to plug the appliances into a switchable 6 way outlet and switch the outlet off when you turn off the TV. We have read that if everyone in the United States eliminated these small phantom loads we could instantly and without sacrificing our lifestyle save the equivalent output of nine nuclear power plants!


The refrigerator is one of the biggest electricity users (HOG) in the house...

1. If your refrigerator is more than 5 or 6 years old consider getting a newer one. Newer models are far more energy efficient. Look at the energy rating. The most expensive models are not necessarily the most efficient. Take that Kill-A-Watt meter with you to the store and drive everyone crazy while you measure each fridge to see how much electricity it actually consumes.

2. Keep the freezer full and leave space for ventilation in the refrigerator part. Freeze bottles of water to fill unused space in the freezer. (And to have an instant supply of cold water to drink.)

3. Keep coils clean and well ventilated. Make sure the Fridge is far enough away from the wall to allow air movement to dissipate the heat from the coils. Put a small fan behind the fridge -- this really increases efficiency.

4. Add extra insulation to the outside and top of the refrigerator. This may cut your energy usage by 20%.

5. Put a small "computer fan" or "muffin fan" inside the refrigerator. This will allow you to have colder food at a lower setting.


The modern dishwasher may be a nice convenience but it is a serious energy hog, using large amounts of both water and electricity or gas to heat all that water. It is best used infrequently if not at all. If it must be used, RUN IT FULL.

Below, however, is one solution for continuing to use your dishwasher which will not waste any water, gas, or electricity!


1. Open window blinds or drapes when you want the solar heat gain and close them again when you don't.

2. Solar Screens keep 70-90% of the suns heat out of the house in the first place in the summer and helps keep it in during the winter.

3. Insulate, Insulate. Insulate.

4. On a windy day, hold a candle (made of beeswax so it doesn't drip) near the window frames. Be careful around the drapes please. Wherever the candle flickers mark the spot for additional caulking. After you have done this, plant some more potted plants to maintain indoor air quality.

5. Build a solar cooker. Let the sun cook your dinners. The meals are delicious. Save the electricity or natural gas you would have used for cooking and keep the heat out of the kitchen. Find plans for many different types of solar cookers which you can build yourself at www.solarcooking.org See Mindy's Sun Ovens Are Wonderful Page for more on the basics of solar cooking...

6. Insulate your hot water heater, and turn the temperature down.


1. Dishwashing: Use 2 dishpans, one for washing and one for rinsing.

2. 60% of household water use is for landscape use. Save the rainwater from your roof for your garden. If you cannot build a complete rainwater catchment system with gutters on the roof and a large storage tank, then simply put lots of 5 gallon buckets
or dishpans under the eves, or dig a channel to direct rainwater to tree wells.

3. Use the grey water from sinks and showers for irrigation. Plants just LOVE dishwater... But PLEASE use a natural dish washing soap like Seventh Generation NOT a commercial dish washing detergent like Dawn.

4. Put the water in a bucket that would normally go down the drain while you are waiting for the water in the shower to get hot.

5. Front loading washing machines may not be quite as convenient as the top loading models, but they use less water.


1. Put irrigation water where it is really needed, underground at the plant roots not in the air or on the surface. Use a soaker hose instead of a sprinkler. Sink coffee cans (open at both ends) into the garden and fill that to get water down to the roots.

2. Using mulch at the base of plants reduces evaporation and reduces soil temperatures so the plant doesn't need as much water.

3. Plant drought tolerant plants and landscapes (xeriscaping).

4. Consider reducing the size of your lawn.



For an extensive list of places which carry alternative energy products,
go to


All the sites listed provide extensive information about solar.
All have excellent books and "how-to" videos you can buy.
Check out "Home Power" - a must have magazine.

"Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing

because he thought he could do only a little."

- Edmund Burke (1727 – 1797)

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© 2003-2014 by Mindy Phypers