This is sponsored content from BlogHer and GE.

What do you do to conserve energy?

Here’s what I do:


Why use something disposable when you can use cloth? (This goes for paper/plastic dishes, cups, and utensils too.)

  • Sure I have paper towels around, but I rarely use them. Instead of storing them prominently within easy reach, they’re tucked away so that I really think about if I need a PAPER towel before grabbing one. I have tons of dish towels and microfiber cloths, and use those for most “paper towel” purposes.
  • You already know I use cloth diapers and wipes. It really isn’t harder than disposable, I promise. Instead of going to the store to buy more, and taking out the trash, you just do a couple extra loads of laundry. Easy peasy.
  • We only use cloth napkins. It helps that they do a better job than paper napkins, too. They’re wrinkly because I’m lazy about ironing them, but who cares?


Recycle, Reduce, Reuse:

  • Recycle – do it. Why wouldn’t you? If you can significantly reduce the amount of trash going out of your home, that’s huge. One fewer trash bag a week is 52 fewer trash bags a year, 520 fewer trash bags a decade. Can you imagine 520 bags stuffed with trash in one spot? Ew. See if you can do better.
  • Composting counts as recycling in my book too. I haven’t started doing it here, but we did in Mississippi and I felt great knowing that our organic waste (veggie peels, cores, coffee grounds, etc) were going back into the earth, and into the veggies we were growing. Here, I’ve been saving veggie scraps in a bag in the freezer, and then when I make stock, I dump in the veggie scraps. It really gives the stock a great depth of flavor, and it “uses up” what would’ve just been thrown away otherwise.
  • Reduce – using cloth, as above, will help a LOT. Another way to reduce is to be mindful about what you’re buying and bringing into your home. Obviously you can’t 100% avoid packaging. But you can buy a big tub of yogurt and put it into smaller reusable containers for lunch boxes, rather than buying individual servings.
  • Reuse – I have a few sweaters and things set aside because I love the fabric and want to make a little outfit for Anneliese out of them. I wash the jars that peanut butter, honey, and jam come in, and reuse them for storing chicken stock and beef stock in our freezer. After using them a few times, I recycle the jars.


Save Energy:

  • When we bought our washer, dryer, and stand-alone freezer, we made sure to get energy-efficient models (energy star rated).
  • When I wash my clothes and diapers and things, I never use HOT water (unless for a specific “deep clean” cycle, very rare). I use warm for my diapers, and warm or cold for my clothes. Everything’s clean, I promise.
  • Turning off lights when you’re not using them (open the curtains if it’s sunny), and – I’m really bad at this one – unplugging things, or turning off power strips when you’re not using the things on that strip. Yeah, I don’t do that. But I think about it. And thinking about it saves 10% of the energy, right? No? Oh, sad.
  • NAS Lemoore base housing provides/uses energy-efficient light bulbs in all the rooms, and the bathrooms have some sort of solar-powered light (or something? It stays lit through the evening, slowly fading… and pretty sure it’s not a skylight). This is pretty neat, even if the different color of the light takes a little getting used to.
  • In the summer, use lined curtains to keep the heat out. In winter, use them to keep the heat in. In fall and spring, open the windows so you don’t have to rely on the air conditioner and heater.


I’m not any sort of green diva or earth princess or anything, but I do a lot of little things to reduce my impact and waste… and I know they add up. So now it’s your turn to share YOUR story. You could win something to help you become even more energy-smart.


What’s the prize? Two $50 GE energy smart LED light bulb that lasts 20 years and saves you $85 in energy cost. One given away per week of contest length.

Share with me what your energy use challenges at home are, for a chance to win a $50 GE energy smart light bulbs that lives 20 years and saves you $85 in energy costs.


  • No duplicate comments.
  • You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:
    • a) Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
    • b) Tweet about this promotion and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
    • c) Blog about this promotion and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
    • d) For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.
  • This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older.
  • Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail.
  • You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.
  • The Official Rules are available here.
  • For more chances to win, Visit the Exclusive Offers section.

Enter GE’s Ecomagination Challenge

If you have any HUGE ideas for energy-saving – beyond “the little things” you do in your household – like a way to make your entire town solar-powered (that would actually work really well where I live, and many neighborhoods have lots of houses with solar roofs), submit your ideas here. GE could help your idea become reality (they’re investing $200 million!) if yours is the best. You could make a HUGE impact.

Please consider:

  • Originality – GE is looking for innovative home energy solutions. Is your entry unique?
  • Feasibility – GE islooking for functional solutions that can enjoy success in the marketplace. Is your entry cost-effective, or can it be made so?
  • Impact – If successfully realized, will your entry help turn our current energy challenge into an opportunity?

64 Comments on Little Things add up to a Big Difference

  1. I bought this power strip (Belkin Conserve Switch F7C01008q Energy-Saving Surge with Remote) on Amazon for $39.99

    Flip the switch to turn everything off (completely) except for the 2 outlets for items that require constant power. It’s great for use with entertainment centers and lamps!!!

  2. Fran Ortega says:

    And I turn it lower when we are not home. I can’t wait until the price comes down!

  3. barbara wright says:

    Don’t use those light bulbs with ceiling fans! They aren’t made for the vibrations!

    I was a tester for our electric company’s power meter. I followed all their guidelines and was able to cut my bills in HALF! The best one for me was doing all my laundry at once. That way the dryer only has to heat up once.

  4. Beth says:

    I turn off the lights when I leave a room – even if my cats are in there and I feel guilty for leaving them in the dark. 🙂

  5. Diane Baum says:

    Lowering the thermostad in winter

  6. Donna K says:

    My biggest challenge is to get the kids to turn off the lighhts when they leave the room.

  7. Joanne Schultz says:

    keeping house costs to a minimum is important when one is unemployed.
    I turn the thermostat down to save on fuel & $$! And I turn it lower when we are not home.
    Thanks for the giveaway!

  8. angie says:

    Even though we are extremely conservative in our energy usage (all lights are CFLs, turn lights off in all rooms not being used, keep thermostat set to 65 in the winter, etc.), our power bill is still over $100 this month. I would love to see how this new light bulb helps. I can’t wait until the price comes down!

  9. Denise S says:

    My biggest challenge is air seeping through the windows and doors that are too thin or not sealed well enough.

    lazybones344 at gmail dot com

  10. scott says:

    Shut off lights when you leave a room, use daylight rather than turning on lights at all when possible, wash all your laundry in cold water when possible , line dry your
    clothing when possible, set your thermostat high in the summer and low in the winter,
    use energy efficient appliances and light bulbs, unplug things that are not in use, etc. We do all of these things and wish the whole planet did! Our power bill is still high to me, but to other people its insanely low. I wish I could afford solar panels for my roof!

  11. R Hicks says:

    Our biggest energy hog is the hot water heater. WE lowered the thermostat a few degrees

    ardy22 at earthlink dot net

  12. Deborah Wellenstein says:

    My home isn’t very energy efficientwe need to tighten up the air leaks! We already recycle, use curlicue lightbulbs, and recycle. Thanks!

    dwellenstein at cox dot net

  13. clynsg says:

    I need a more energy efficient dishwasher, and my refrigerator is old enough that it probably is not as good as it could be. But the first thing I want to get is one of the new power strips that will leave items like the DVR on while turning off the other electronics plugged into it.

  14. susan smoaks says:

    our energy use challenges are bad insulation and old appliances, we try to do the best we can with what we have and once we can afford it we will upgrade to more efficient appliances and insulation

  15. Terri Grinner says:


  16. Reeva says:

    We compost, reduce, reuse, reuse again, and recycle! We also reduce heat in winter and unplug items we dont use regularly. I also limit hot water use.

  17. kittycardero says:

    My energy challenge is getting everyone else in the house to turn off lights and unplug stuff when it’s not in use.

  18. Debra F says:

    We have installed faucet aerators and low-flow shower heads to cut water heating costs, but the biggest problems is that all of the members of my family REALLY love taking long showers. We occasionally indulge now, but most of the time we limit our time in the shower.

  19. Erica C. says:

    We’ve done a lot recently with unplugging everything that we aren’t using.

  20. ferriz says:

    our house is surrounded by trees that block out the sun. this means it is dark here like 24/7 and we need lights to see. we go through wayy too many lightbulbs.

    also means the house never heats up so we have to run the heater more than we should.. we dress in layers as much as possible but it only helps so much.

  21. Derk Thomas says:

    Keeping the house warm in the winter in the northeast is a challenge. Have to plug the drafts hope the temperature does not dip to 0 too often. Keep the thermostat as low as feasible and hope for bright sunny days.

  22. susan l says:

    i need to get better at recycling, once my lil one started walking she loved the recycle bin and i put it outside now i say i only recycle half as much…booo i know

  23. SaraLee E says:

    My challenge is getting my family to compost everything that can be composted. I am always taking stuff out of the trash that could be composted
    s8r8l33 at yahoo dot com

  24. Daniel M says:

    if you leave the room, turn it off!

  25. Jean D. says:

    I unplug appliances, use curly lightbulbs, keep the thermostat low, use a heat pump, recycle and repurpose. But it wasn’t until I found a window leaking cold air that I was able to lower our out-of-control heating bill. I covered the window in plastic, and the bill dropped dramatically. I’m still amazed at how much money and warmth one sheet of plastic managed to save.

    Thanks for a great giveaway!

  26. elizabeth p says:

    My biggest challenge is three kids who will not turn off the lights. And they love to stand with the door open. I don’t understand it. I am queenesperfect at

  27. Crystal Thaxton says:

    I read through all the comments in hopes of not reposting.
    I will admit I am not very “green” at all, but I do try to do a few things to help the environment. Water consumption is something I really try to watch. I used to be a 30 min shower taker, now I try to be in and out in 10. Also, I make sure to turn off the faucet while brushing my teeth and the kids teeth, only turning it back on when needed. I use cloth bags for grocery shopping, cloth napkins for dining, and old cut up cloths from t-shirts for cleaning.

  28. The lights are actually the biggest issue we have. We have a newer home so it’s fairly energy efficient, but our can lights suck tons of energy and though my hubby would like to, we can’t afford LEDs in the house just yet (and hate CFLs).

  29. Suzanne K says:

    My biggest energy use challenge is my teen aged daughter… working on getting her to turn off things like lights, tv, stereo, chargers, shorter showers…… oy!

  30. Susan C says:

    My energy problem is an inefficient heating system. I help the problem by encouraging the use of blankets and warm clothing.
    smchester at gmail dot com

  31. Erica David says:

    I’ve had solar panels on my roof for 10 years — I bought my system but now you can lease panels for zero-down from Big electricity savings! Also, your school can raise money through the Beyond the Bake Sale solar fundraising program.

  32. Janice Whitaker says:

    We have an older heat pump
    [email protected]

  33. Cynthia C says:

    My biggest challenge is that our windows need to be replaced. We’re saving up for that.

  34. Kirsten says:

    Biggest challenge is having THREE TVs and telling my family that it’s absurd to have them all on at once. And AT LEAST turn them off when not using them!

  35. nicole says:

    Our challenge is remembering to turn off the porch light in the morning. Most days it stays on all day.

  36. Courtney S says:

    We are trying to get our electric bill costs down so we try to make sure everything is off when we leave a room. We are also replacing our bulbs with EF bulbs as the other ones go out so it’s not so expensive!

  37. SANDY says:

    unplugging items is great but the biggest energy saver so far is insulating sealing the windows- it amazing how much you can turn down the heat when everything is caulked and sealed and you open the drapes in the winter to let sunshine and light in and close it at night- some serious money saving

  38. ky2here says:

    We recycle, compost and use cloth bags for shopping. We have energy star appliances. Our biggest challenge is the fact that our house was built in 1883.

    ky2here at msn dot com

  39. Rebecca Graham says:

    We unplug recharger cords when not in use.

  40. shala_darkstone says:

    Hi, one of our problems was air blowing through our patio doors on windy days so we put in new energy efficient patio doors recently. We also use a programmable thermostat and timers on our lights to save energy.

  41. We turn down the heat at night in winter! Thanks!

  42. Dmarie says:

    I was shocked to learn how much it costs yearly to operate such things as the cooktop on the oven, and the cost of using a blow dryer every day sure surprised me! Here in Kentucky we have coal-powered electricity, not the cleanest sourse, so it’s very important to me to reduce usage. So, in addition to other oft-mentioned energy savings, to try to use my blow dryer less, I’ve taken to putting a couple of curlers in the top and letting my hair air dry most of the way before finishing off with a blow dryer…takes far less time to blow dry, uses far less energy.

  43. Maria says:

    I wash clothes in cold water. I usually hang clothes to dry and the kids help by turning lights off when not being used.

  44. Milissa says:

    I leave the curtains/blinds open in order to let in as much natural light as possible instead of using electricity. This works for me becase I live in temperature consistent climate where I rarely have to use heat/air conditioning.

  45. Marie says:

    We have a set of extra dishes, napkins, glasses, and utensiles for when we have large parties. We have at least 50 of each: plates, knives, forks, spoons, and cloth napkins that we have collected over the years. It all fits in the dishwasher in 1-2 loads and is easy to store between parties.

    We also line dry our towels and rags in the basement in the winter on rope tied in the basement. All of our rags are made from my husband’s old T-Shirts( reuse).
    We also love entertaining on our small sailboat( no gas required!)

    We also have bermuda grass- which doesn’t require watering in the summer, so we can save on water bills.

  46. Mary says:

    I have been integrating cloth menstrual pads into my life. I have really heavy periods (sorry TMI), so at night it’s a lot easier to use a cloth pad. Just throw it in the next load of laundry. Done and WAY better than the huge phonebook sized ones you buy at the store. Easier on the environment and easier on my skin.

  47. Pam Kuhn says:

    When I walk around the house at night, I see so many of those little red lights burning! So I try to shut off power strips and chargers that are not needed at night. They can be quite a draw on the electric bill! We’ve also found that replacing ancient large appliances like our refrigerator, central air unit, and furnace have made a BIG difference in our electric bill! If yours is getting old, you may find that it will pay for itself in energy savings if you replace it! We figured that the new furnace that replaced our ancient one paid for itself in only two years!

  48. Love this post! All those things definitely add up. I also use cloth diapers, cloth wipes, I recycle and compost! I even garden! I can my garden goods and eat them throughout the year. I run a community garden in my town and work for my dad who runs an organic green house business. There are so many little things that anyone can do.

  49. Danyelle says:

    I have problems with unplugging things we aren’t using so we lose energy.

  50. Samatha says:

    Good promotion. I’m always trying to save time, money and energy. Thanks for the tips!

  51. Jaimie says:

    I tweeted the promotion too. 🙂

  52. Jaimie says:

    We have a big composter on the deck, and use a composting pail in the kitchen for eggs, grounds etc. Using CFL bulbs everywhere they’ll fit. We use ceiling fans to circulate the air so we can use lower/higher thermostat temps in appropriate seasons. My husband is also looking into making a rain barrel, to use when we garden. 🙂 Excited about the bulbs too – our new ceiling fan in the bedroom is an LED bulb light. 🙂

  53. I go rounds with my husband about the no paper thing. He analyzes the actual cost of doing all that and it never adds up. Here, we have propane, and every time the hot water heats up, it costs a LOT of money. It was 900 dollars this winter for our propane. If I add more loads of laundry he freaks. I switched to cloth wipes, but I wanted to go to no toilet paper, no buying diapers, bring back hankies, and napkins. The way I am getting around the toilet paper is with the purchase of a spray bidet. I won’t have to do a load of cloth toilet wipes every night if we spray most things away. Okay TMI.

  54. Leah says:

    one of our problems is a drafty house. We hang blankets up over the passage ways and just keep the spaces that we really spend time in warm. It’s very cozy!

  55. Bonnie says:

    Even though I’m a renter, I bought and installed a programmable thermostat. It cost $32, took 30 minutes to install, and is saving energy and money. An added bonus is that I no longer wake up to a cold house – it comes on 15 minutes before my alarm goes off. Cheap, easy, and improved my quality of life!

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