End the Trunk Shuffle: No more junk in your trunk

After a long day of running errands, chauffeuring people from one activity to another, picking up groceries, and so on, I was in the process of doing the trunk shuffle once again. You know what I mean: shifting the stuff that’s been sitting in your trunk perpetually for months trying to make room for the things you’re attempting to bring home. My trunk is full of all sorts of things: the windshield scraper, the reusable bags, an emergency kit, and things like that. It all takes energy and sure does have the potential to create aggravation when I’m short on time and energy and just wanting to get home. Banging my head on the hatch hood in my re-gigging efforts didn’t help any either.

Later that evening, after I got home and was emptying out the trunk, I decided to take a few minutes to clean up the mess and remove the things I don’t really need. Among the necessities that need to stay in the car (reusable bags being chief among them), here’s what I found:

  • Golf clubs for my husband who hasn’t golfed in months and likely won’t be golfing for several more given the snow around here. Umbrellas were another casualty of my cleaning frenzy—don’t need those until the seasons change again.
  • A large CD and DVD collection that was supposed to be for on-the-road tunes and entertainment but which is never used.
  • A box of miscellaneous items we were supposed to deliver to my Mom’s house several months ago but keep forgetting about.

It all went back into the house. I now have more space in my vehicle’s storage space and my mileage is the better for it. According to FuelEconomy.gov, removing 100 pounds of weight from my car can improve my fuel efficiency by as much as 2 percent. Now that’s easy money.

– Lucy Goes Green

Boosting Heating Efficiency: Keeping Tabs on the Furnace

Humming away in relative obscurity, our home appliances, such as central air conditioners and furnaces, plug along, doing their duty unnoticed and often unappreciated. Their influence in our lives is sometimes so pervasive and constant that we take them for granted, forgetting that they may need a little TLC now and then to keep functioning at peek efficiency.

I for one never think about my furnace, but I was reminded today that regular furnace maintenance is a good thing to save energy and cut heating costs. In the spirit of the mundane, here are some things we can all do to increase our furnace efficiencies:

  • On a monthly basis, clean up the furnace filter during heating season. That means turning off the furnace and vacuuming around the base, then removing the filter and, if it has a plastic or metal frame, vacuum it out as well (cardboard-framed filters should be replaced when too dirty).
  • If the filter is far too dirty or has a cardboard frame, you can replace it with a new model. Here I’d think that a permanent filter would be a better choice than a disposable in order to save resource and the energy needed to constantly be making new. These cost about $100, but can save you tremendously if properly maintained.

Cleaning and/or changing your furnace filter on a regular basis could lower your heating energy costs by as much as four percent, and as such may save you between $30 and $4 every year. It’s a simple, no-cost way to save money on heating bills.

– Lucy