Turn your toilet tank blue Pour food coloring into the water in the tank, wait two hours, then check to to see if any color has seeped into the bowl. If it has, your tank's flapper is leaking, either from mineral buildup or worn parts. After you flush the dye away so it doesn't stain, head to the hardware store for a replacement flapper assembly (then go to thisoldhouse.com for instructions on how to install it). Toilet leaks waste up to a gallon of water per minute.
Ditch the Bottled Water Splash out on a stainless steel reusable water bottle this year in a bid to avoid buying plastic. Making bottles to meet America’s demand for bottled water uses more than 17 million barrels of oil annually – enough to fuel 1.3 million cars for the year.
Buy all-in-one electronics A TV with DVD player included may use less energy than a separate television and device player. Be sure to check Energy Guide labels for individual power consumption.
Invest in Reusable Bags A plastic shopping bag can take anywhere from 20 to 1,000 years to decompose. In a compressed landfill, without exposure to air to help them break down, paper bags aren’t much better.
End the water torture One drip per second from a leaky faucet or pipe can waste up to 5 gallons of water a day—and 1,800 gallons a year. While you won't notice much of an increase on your water bill (around $3 annually), if an overlooked leak soaks through your kitchen floor, you could wind up with a $1,000 repair job—money that could have been saved by simply replacing a 50-cent washer.
Reach behind your clothes washer Turn down the hot water tap for the washing machine so less goes into the warm-water cycle. Perspiration and most other dirt dislodge best at body temperature, so you don't need water that's warmer than 100 degrees. Since most washers simply open both the hot and cold taps to make "warm" water, it may take longer to fill the machine. But you'll save about $40 annually on your water-heating bill.
Green your Cleaning While you’re clearing out your junk, consider the products you are using to dust, polish, mop and freshen.
Conventional cleaners are loaded with chemicals which are harmful to both the environment and our health. Swap your cleaning products for homemade versions usually fairly innocuous ingredients like baking soda, coconut oil and castile soap.
Run the shower Place a 1-gallon bucket under the running water, then see how long it takes for it to fill up. If it's less than 20 seconds, replace the showerhead with one that sprays 1.5 gallons per minute. That could save as much as 14,600 gallons of water a year—especially if you limit your showers to 10 minutes. It will also save you $22 on your annual water bill, and $150 per year on water heating.
Throw a dinner party And clear out that second fridge or freezer in the garage or basement. Then banish the appliance to the recycling center. Getting rid of either one can save you more than $200 a year, especially if it's an old, inefficient model.
Freeze your assets Slip a dollar bill between the rubber gasket on your freezer and fridge doors and the frame, then close the door and tug on the buck. Notice any resistance? If not, the seal's not tight enough and cold air is probably leaking out, making your fridge work harder to stay cool. Try this on all four sides of the door. If necessary, call the manufacturer's service department to find out how to replace the gasket.
Slow down. Driving 10 mph above 60 is like adding nearly 50 cents to the price of a gallon of gas, since higher speed equals more guzzling.
Run a full dishwasher whenever possible It uses half or less of the water and energy of washing the same dishes by hand. And don't waste water by rinsing before loading (today's machines are designed to power off the mess).
Replace vinyl shower curtains Trade the vinyl for PVC-free plastic, cloth, or bamboo. You’ll avoid more than 108 different chemicals vinyl emits into the air, as well as that unpleasant plastic-y odor.
Skip the sink Dishwashers use half the energy, one-sixth of the water, and less soap than hand-washing dishes, reports a German study. Just make sure it’s full before you run it: Doing so can save 100 pounds of carbon dioxide and $40 per year, according to the EPA.
Install a programmable thermostat You’ll save about $180 per year in energy costs, according to Energy Star. These devices conveniently cycle off the system when you’re not home and maintain the desired temperature when you are—in other words, they learn your habits so you’re more comfortable when you’re home and saving money when you’re not.
Pick up some coconut oil Trim your drugstore bill and beauty product waste by investing in a $10 bottle of coconut oil. It’s naturally antibacterial and antifungal, an excellent moisturizer, and penetrates hair better than other oils. Use it to soothe dry hands, moisturize your body, shave your legs, deep-condition your hair, and control flyaways (dab it on rogue hairs).
Eat local The food is fresher, which means it contains more nutrients than food that’s taken a trip from half a globe away. Buying locally can also reduce the pollution and energy used from transporting, storing, and refrigerating.
Hang curtains over windows Heavy curtains or blankets hung over windows will add an exterior barrier to the cold, especially if you don't have double-paned windows.
Use power strips Most electronics continue to draw power when turned off. This is called a "phantom load" or "vampire power" and can be avoided by plugging into power strips that are turned off between uses.
Don’t Dump, Donate By some estimates, for every item of clothing donated, 27 pounds of carbon emissions are reduced based on the fact that you don’t use another item being produced while one is headed to the landfill. Take items to a thrift store or a charity that accepts donations.