The Energy Diet

Trimming your energy use is a lot like taking off extra pounds. You’ve heard all the advice, but the thought of starting a diet can be daunting. Will you feel deprived? Can you stick to all the changes you’ll need to make? And where do you begin? This calendar will help you take a step-by-step approach toward a lifestyle that is healthier for the planet, and may end up saving you money.

Follow households around the world as they attempt to reduce their carbon footprint -- and blog about it -- at the 360º Energy Diet.

Energy Diet

Adapted from Dutch language book, The Ideal Energy Weight, by Klaas van Alphen, a researcher at Copernicus Institute for Sustainable Development, Utrecht University and Herman van der Meyden, a Shell engineer who has participated in the company’s future scenarios project.

Click on a month to learn how you can save more energy.


Find out the age of your refrigerator and whether it might be due for replacement. Replacing a refrigerator that is more than ten years old with a model that carries an Energy Star rating in the United States or an “A” label in the European Union usually pays for itself in a couple of years. If your refrigerator is new, have a good look at the rest of the appliances.


Do you have an old natural gas furnace or boiler in the house? Then calculate how much a high efficiency (HE) unit would save you in monthly energy costs. Some guides and calculators that can help you with this decision are found at Energy Star and the Energy Information Administration (Excel file).


This month, have a look at the electricity bill. Do you have green electricity? See if you can choose renewable energy where you live and, if so, where you can get the best deal.


If April is the month for planning your summer vacation, have a careful look at your destination and how you will get there. Are there other options? If you are going to fly, calculate the carbon dioxide emissions of the planned flight. Consider buying carbon offsets when purchasing the ticket.


Invest in energy-saving power strips to keep your television, home entertainment center, or computer from going into energy-draining sleep or standby mode.


Consider whether you are able and willing to purchase a sustainable energy source for yourself. Investigate the options for a solar boiler, heat pump, or solar panels. Also have a look at the current government subsidies in the United States.


Find out how far you drive each year, and how much fuel your car burns over this distance. Calculate how much you could save with another car. The idea is not to buy another car immediately, but just to take an objective look at use and consumption.


Time for some sun, beach, sea, and a vacation from energy-consumption topics!


The evenings are getting longer, and more lighting is being used. Consider replacing standard light fixtures with low-energy bulbs.


With the summer definitely over, you may want to see whether the insulation in your house can be improved. Use the U.S. Energy Department’s insulation guide as an aid.


With winter approaching, it is a good time to look for holes, seams, and cracks throughout the house through which heat could escape. Close these spaces with weather stripping or caulk.


Perhaps you are already having personal success with your energy diet, but would you like to share it with the people around you? Think during this holiday month whether you have family and friends with whom you would like to share the energy diet.

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