What are 10 easy things I can do at home?

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While some of these things may seem small, imagine how big the impact would be if everyone in Chapel Hill did them. When you're ready for the next level, check out "More At Home."

1. Turn off lights and fans when you leave the room.

Fans can be a great way to cool a space without having to lower your home's air conditioning. But did you know that fans only add comfort to a space when someone is there to feel the breeze? Try getting in the habit of turning lights and fans off every time you leave a room.

Benefit: save energy

2. Take shorter showers.

Did you know that the average shower takes about 20 gallons of water while the average bath consumes about 30 gallons? Try showering in 3-5 minutes. This could save more than 10 gallons of water and reduce the energy for heating hot water.

Benefits: save water and energy

3. Reduce your junk mail.

For mail you want, make sure you've signed up for electronic billing or other e-services. To unsubscribe from catalogs, there are tools like CatalogChoice.org or DMAchoice.org. To avoid being hit up with credit card offers, OptOutPrescreen.com is an option recommended by the Federal Trade Commission, though some personal information is required. For anything you don't want that still shows up at the house, recycle it with your other paper waste.

Benefits: reduce waste, save trees

4. Only run the dishwasher and washing machine when you have a full load.

Running these machines when they are half full can more than double the amount of water and energy you use. Some dishwashers also use electric heaters to dry dishes after they are washed. Disabling this setting and letting your dishes air dry can save even more electricity.

Benefits: save water and energy

5. Empty the dryer trap.

In addition to being a fire hazard, lint can increase drying time and cause your dryer to use up to 30% more energy. Try cleaning the lint trap after each load.

Benefit: save energy

6. Wash clothes in cold water.

Did you know it's cheaper to wash your clothes in cold water? Using cold water avoids drawing from your home's hot water heater, which typically uses electricity or natural gas to keep water hot or heat it up on demand.

Benefit: save energy

Sustainable hot water option: solar water heaters

7. Clean or change HVAC filters as directed.

Did you know dirty filters cause furnaces and air conditioning units to work harder and use more energy? Regular filter replacement and routine maintenance reduce energy consumption and can extend the life of your equipment.

Benefit: save energy

8. Donate or repurpose old clothes.

For any gently used clothing items that can't be donated to a local thrift store, consider turning them into cleaning rags. These actions extend the life of your clothes and limit waste.

Benefit: reduce waste

9. Use a hair catcher for drains.

Harsh liquid chemicals are marketed as the easiest way to clear tough clogs in the shower or sink. A hair catcher can help to avoid these clogs altogether. And if the drain does get clogged, consider using an old wire hanger or a combination of vinegar and baking soda to clear it. Compared to harsh liquid chemicals, these alternatives can protect water quality. Bonus: they're easier on your pipes!

Benefits: save water, protect water quality

10. Clean regfrigerator coils as directed.

Keeping refrigerator coils free of dust helps the unit last longer and run more efficiently.

Benefit: save energy