Green Tips



  1. Use the air conditioner in your car as little as possible. It uses a lot of gas. Roll down the windows and get some fresh air!
  2. Using cruise control can save gas.If you drive on the open road often, staying at a constant speed will save fuel.
  3. If you are taking a trip, start early in the day while traffic is light.Plan to stop for meals at times when traffic is heavy
  4. Don’t let your car idle for a long time to warm it up.Also, don’t let your car idle for more than a minute after it is warmed up—this idling wastes more gas than restarting your car.
  5. Do not rev the engine and then quickly shut your car off. This wastes gas. It also pumps raw gasoline into the cylinder walls. This can wash away a film of oil that protects the cylinders and will increase engine wear.
  6. Check your tires. Your owner’s manual has important information on your tires, including the correct air pressure that should be in them. Underinflated tires can cost you as much as 1 mpg. Radial tires have 50 percent less road resistance, so they give you 3 to 19 percent better mpg.
  7. Avoid rapid acceleration; most horsepower (consumes a lot of gas) is built into cars for acceleration; relatively little power (and thus fuel) is required to maintain speed.
  8. Avoid hard braking and sudden stops. Stay alert and anticipate traffic lights, stop signs and merges. Use turn signals. Traffic will move more smoothly, which saves fuel for everyone.
  9. Drive more slowly. One study reported that for all vehicles tested there was at least 20% loss in fuel economy as cruising speed was increased from 55 to 75 mph. So, 20 mpg at 55 mph becomes 16 mpg or less at 75 mph.
  10. Remove extra weight from the car; 100 extra pounds may cost 1 mpg. Pack lightly for trips.
  11. Park in the shade and/or leave windows slightly open to reduce the need for air conditioning.
  12. Carpool if possible for traveling to work or for errands.
  13. Combine errands to reduce the number of trips.
  14. Utilize mass transit. Support efforts to make mass transit more available.
  15. For shorter errands, consider walking or bicycling.
  16. Try to take one less car trip per week.
  17. Try to work or study at home at least part of the time.
  18. Do your weekly shopping in a single trip to save on gas.



  1. Avoid changing the thermostat setting frequently.
  2. For greater temperature control, use a programmable or setback thermostat.
  3. Set water heater temperature to 120˚ F. Extremely hot water can lead to scalding accidents and also higher energy costs.
  4. Consider washing with cold water.
  5. Turn off unnecessary lights.
  6. Rig a clothesline in the yard and give your dryer a break.
  7. If you have a refrigerator or freezer in your garage that isn’t full, consider getting rid of it. These appliances tend to be older and hog energy.
  8. SMUD’s Shade Tree program offers free shade trees for customers whose homes have an eastern, western or southern exposure that heats up during the summer.
  9. Newer water heaters may have insulation built into the unit - check the owner’s manual to determine if additional insulation can be added.
  10. Wrap the water heater with a water heater blanket to keep heated water warm.
  11. If your house is more than 15 years old, check the insulation in the attic and floor. Even if the insulation met requirements when it was installed, it has most likely settled significantly over time.
  12. Current standards call for at least R-30 in the attic, R-13 in the walls, and R-19 in the floor.
  13. Because up to 20 percent of the heat or cooling inside a typical house is lost through the windows, check the weather stripping and caulking around doors and windows.
  14. When not in use, turn off lights and appliances.
  15. Some newer TVs, VCRs and other electronic appliances have a “sleep” or “stand-by” mode that allows them to start immediately when you turn them on. However, that means they are constantly drawing a small amount of energy. When possible, you should switch this option off.
  16. Use appliances such as dishwashers, washing machines, and clothes dryers only when they are full, and preferably before or after the peak hours of 4 to 8 p.m., when demand for electricity is highest.
  17. Refrigerators usually consume the second most amount of energy in a home. (No. 1: the heating/air conditioning system.) Help the refrigerator maintain its efficiency by cleaning the coils at the back or bottom of the unit.
  18. Keep in mind: Every time you open a refrigerator door, the compressor has to run for 8 to 10 minutes.
  19. When you are ready to replace an appliance, purchase an Energy Star® model. They’re between 15 percent and 40 percent more efficient than older models, and will save you energy for years to come.
  20. Replace incandescent lights with energy-efficient compact fluorescent lights or LEDs.
  21. Winter
  22. Set your thermostat between 65˚ F and 70˚ F during the winter and 55˚ F when away from the house for four or more hours and at night. For homes with elderly people or children, warmer temperatures are recommended.
  23. If you have a heat pump, set the lower temperature at 63 degrees. That’s because heat pumps are designed to maintain temperatures within a narrower range.
  24. A clock-thermostat can be pre-programmed so you don’t have to remember to change the setting on your heater. You can even set it to pre-heat your home before you get up in the morning or before you get home in the evening.
  25. For every two degrees that you lower your thermostat during the winter, you save approximately 10 percent on your heating bill. So it pays to dress in layers and add a blanket to your bed.
  26. Have your furnace or boiler tuned by a qualified technician once a year to help improve your systems operating efficiency. Plus, your furnace is one-third less likely to break down.
  27. Clean or change your furnace filters once a month during heating season.
  28. DO NOT restrict airflow through the heating system by closing doors and hot air registers or placing furniture or other objects in front of or over cold air returns.
  29. If you notice little or no air coming from some registers - or if some rooms are colder than others – this could mean your ductwork leaks. It’s estimated that about 20 percent of Sacramento homes have substantial duct leaks.
  30. Warm air rises, so use registers to direct warm airflow across the floor.
  31. On sunny days, open draperies and blinds to let in the suns warmth.  Close draperies and blinds at night to insulate against cold air.
  32. Be sure storm windows are installed during heating season.
  33. Make sure your hot water pipes are insulated where they pass through unheated areas.
  34. Close the damper and cover your fireplace when not in use. Be sure that any fire has been completely extinguished.
  35. Using portable heaters can be costly. Use them only to warm rooms that don’t get enough heat or in homes without central heating systems. Turn them off when nobody’s in the room.  Choose the type of heaters that sound an alarm or turn off automatically if they are tipped over.
  36. Summer
  37. Energy conservation is critical during the summer months, when air conditioners make heavy demands on our power supplies. The easiest way to keep your home cool is not to let it heat up in the first place.
  38. Keep windows closed during the heat of the day, and draw blinds and draperies to keep the heat out.
  39. Set the thermostat at 78 degrees or higher. You’ll gain savings of about 5 to 10 percent on the operating cost of an air conditioner for every two degrees of cooling you’re willing to give up.
  40. Change the filter regularly. An air conditioning unit with dirty filters can use 5 to 10 percent more energy.
  41. Use fans instead of the central air conditioning unit whenever possible. Individual fans cost about 90 percent less to operate.
  42. Adjust ceiling fans to turn counter-clockwise in the summer. (Usually this means that the switch on the fan should be in the “down” position.)
  43. Lay off appliances during hot afternoons and evenings. Many appliances create heat and moisture, making the air conditioner work harder. Limit use of ranges and stoves, dishwashers, dryers, washing machines, and other heat-producing equipment to early morning or late evening when temperatures are cooler.
  44. Prepare cold meals such as salads and sandwiches. Cook hot meals only late in the evening, when it’s cooler.
  45. Going on vacation?
  46. Set your air conditioner thermostat at 85 degrees or higher.
  47. Put lights on a timer to save energy and give the house a “lived in” look.
  48. Draw the drapes on windows facing south and west.
  49. Shift your water heater to the lowest setting.
  50. Check to make sure no faucets are dripping.


  1. When washing dishes by hand, don’t let the water run while rinsing. Fill one sink with wash water and the other with rinse water.
  2. Adjust sprinklers so only your lawn is watered and not the house, sidewalk, or street.
  3. Run your clothes washer and dishwasher only when they are full. You can save up to 1,000 gallons a month.
  4. Choose shrubs and groundcovers instead of turf for hard-to-water areas such as steep slopes and isolated strips.
  5. Install covers on pools and spas to reduce evaporation and check for leaks around your pumps.
  6. Use the garbage disposal sparingly. Try composting vegetable food waste instead and save gallons every time.
  7. Try planting new bushes and flowers in the fall when conditions are cooler and rainfall is more plentiful.
  8. For cold drinks keep a pitcher of water in the refrigerator instead of running the tap. This way, every drop goes down you and not the drain.
  9. Monitor your water bill for unusually high use. Your bill and water meter are tools that can help you discover leaks.
  10. Water your lawn and garden in the morning or evening when temperatures are cooler to minimize evaporation.
  11. Wash your fruits and vegetables in a pan of water instead of running water from the tap, and then reuse it to water houseplants.
  12. Spreading a layer of organic mulch around plants, it will retain moisture and save water, time and money.
  13. Use a broom instead of a hose to clean your driveway and sidewalk and save water every time.
  14. If water runs off your lawn easily, split your watering time into shorter periods to allow for better absorption.
  15. We’re more likely to notice leaks indoors, but don’t forget to check outdoor faucets, sprinklers and hoses for leaks.
  16. If you have an automatic refilling device, check your pool periodically for leaks.
  17. Rather than following a set watering schedule, check the root zone of your lawn or garden for moisture before watering using a spade or trowel. If it’s still moist two inches under the soil surface, you still have enough water.
  18. When buying new appliances, consider ones that offer cycle and load size adjustments, they’re more water and energy efficient.
  19. Shorten your shower by a minute or two and you’ll save up to 150 gallons per month.
  20. Upgrade older toilets with water efficient models.
  21. Adjust your lawn mower to a higher setting. A taller lawn shades roots and holds soil moisture better than if it is closely clipped.
  22. Use sprinklers for large areas of grass and water small patches by hand to avoid waste.
  23. Put food coloring in your toilet tank. If it seeps into the toilet bowl without flushing, you have a leak. Fixing it can save up to 1,000 gallons a month.
  24. When running a bath, plug the tub before turning the water on, and then adjust the temperature as the tub fills up.
  25. Use rain barrels to collect water from your roof to water your garden.
  26. Designate one glass for your drinking water each day or refill a water bottle. This will cut down on the number of glasses to wash.
  27. Install a rain sensor on your irrigation controller so your system won’t run when it’s raining.
  28. Don’t use running water to thaw food. Defrost food in the refrigerator for water efficiency and food safety.
  29. At home, use drip irrigation systems for shrubs and trees to apply water directly to the roots where it’s needed.
  30. Grab a wrench and fix that leaky faucet. It’s simple, inexpensive, and you can save 140 gallons a week.
  31. Reduce the amount of lawn in your yard by planting shrubs and ground covers appropriate to your site and region.
  32. When doing laundry, match the water level to the size of the load.
  33. Teach your children to turn off faucets tightly after each use.
  34. Remember to check your sprinkler system valves periodically for leaks and keep the sprinkler heads in good shape.
  35. Use a water-efficient showerhead. They’re inexpensive, easy to install, and can save you up to 750 gallons a month.
  36. Soak pots and pans instead of letting the water run while you scrape them clean.
  37. Don’t water your lawn on windy days when most of the water blows away or evaporates.
  38. Water your plants deeply but less frequently to encourage deep root growth and drought tolerance.
  39. To decrease water from being wasted on sloping lawns, apply water for five minutes and then repeat two to three times.
  40. Group plants with the same watering needs together to avoid overwatering some while under-watering others.
  41. Use a minimum amount of organic or slow release fertilizer to promote a healthy and drought tolerant landscape.
  42. Instead of washing your car at home, use a commercial car wash that recycles water and uses less.

  43. Turn off the water while brushing your teeth and save 25 gallons a month.
  44. Learn how to shut off your automatic watering system in case it malfunctions or you get an unexpected rain.

  45. Set a kitchen timer when watering your lawn or garden to remind you when to stop. A running hose can discharge up to 10 gallons a minute.
  46. Make sure there are water-saving aerators on all of your faucets.
  47. Next time you add or replace a flower or shrub, choose a low water use plant for year-round landscape color and save up to 550 gallons each year.  Consult with your local nursery for information on plant selection and placement for optimum outdoor water savings.
  48. Install an instant water heater near your kitchen sink so you don’t have to run the water while it heats up. This also reduces energy costs.
  49. Use a grease pencil to mark the water level of your pool at the skimmer. Check the mark 24 hours later to see if you have a leak.
  50. If your dishwasher is new, cut back on rinsing. Newer models clean more thoroughly than older ones.
  51. If installing a lawn, select a turf mix or blend that matches your climate and site conditions.
  52. When the kids want to cool off, use the sprinkler in an area where your lawn needs it the most.
  53. Insulate hot water pipes for more immediate hot water at the faucet and for energy savings.
  54. Drop your tissue in the trash instead of flushing it and save water every time.
  55. Direct water from rain gutters toward water-loving plants in the landscape for automatic water savings.
  56. If your toilet was installed before 1992, reduce the amount of water used for each flush by inserting a displacement device in the tank.
  57. Setting cooling systems and water softeners for a minimum number of refills saves water and chemicals, plus more on utility bills.
  58. Try washing dark clothes in cold water; it saves both on water and energy while also retaining the color of your clothes.
  59. Leave lower branches on trees and shrubs and allow leaf litter to accumulate on the soil. This keeps the soil cooler and reduces evaporation.
  60. Let your lawn go dormant during the summer. Dormant grass only needs to be watered every three weeks or less if it rains.
  61. Try planting with finished compost to add water-holding and nutrient-rich organic matter to the soil.
  62. Use sprinklers that deliver big drops of water close to the ground. Smaller water drops and mist often evaporate before they hit the ground.
  63. Water your plants and landscaping only when necessary. More plants die from over-watering than from under-watering.
  64. One more way to get eight glasses of water a day is to re-use the water left over from cooked or steamed foods to start a scrumptious and nutritious soup.
  65. Adjust your watering schedule each month to match seasonal weather conditions and landscape requirements.
  66. Turn off the water while you wash your hair to save up to 150 gallons a month. Also, turn off the water while you shave can save up to 300 gallons a month.
  67. When shopping for a new clothes washer, compare resource savings among Energy Star models. Some of these can save up to 20 gallons per load, and energy too.
  68. Apply water only as fast as the soil can absorb it.   Aerate your lawn at least once a year so water can reach the roots rather than run off the surface.
  69. When you give your pet fresh water, don’t throw the old water down the drain. Use it to water your trees or shrubs.
  70. If you accidentally drop ice cubes when filling your glass from the freezer, don’t throw them in the sink. Drop them in a house plant instead.
  71. To save water and time, consider washing your face or brushing your teeth while in the shower.
  72. When you are washing your hands, don’t let the water run while you lather.

Reduce Waste

  1. Save water and time when recycling cans and bottles. You no longer need to rinse them out or remove their labels.
  2. Take leftover plastic bags back to grocery stores where they are collected and reused to make plastic lumber.
  3. Recycle junk mail or reuse it as scratch paper. To opt-out of certain junk-mailing lists, go to
  4. Newspapers, magazines, and white paper can all be recycled as long as the paper is clean and dry. Plastic wrap, stickers, or rubber bands should be removed, but staples and plastic window envelopes are OK. Or give them to doctor or dentist offices, gyms or friends.
  5. Be part of the recycling loop – purchase only items made from recycled materials.
  6. Reduce paper and ink — print double side and black and white.
  7. Buy local products – it cuts down on fuel to transport and supports our local community.
  8. Get creative in your gift-giving—make your gifts or buy tickets to an event or movie or donate to a good cause.
  9. Recycle your aluminum cans – 1 can saves enough energy to run a computer for three hours.
  10. Find out where your local recycling centers are by visiting our website at
  11. Reuse totes and bags when going to the grocery store or mall – reducing the need for plastic bags.
  12. Use old calendars, colorful pictures, etc. to make your own envelopes.
  13. Use rechargeable batteries.
  14. SPCA and pet shops appreciate old newspapers.
  15. Styrofoam doesn’t degrade. Find a substitute, if possible. Don’t buy styrofoam peanut packaging – but if some comes your way – reuse it!
  16. Buy products with little or no packaging and buying the largest size you can use. (This not only saves the amount of materials being thrown into trash or recycling cans, but also saves money!)
  17. Buy reusable quality products such as non-disposable cameras, reusable or electric razors, reusable dishes, mugs and utensils, and have your child carry lunch in a reusable lunch box. 
  18. Bring your own mug to get coffee. Paper cups waste money and landfill space. Plus, bringing your own cup to local coffee houses can save you money.
  19. Take only what you need (i.e.: refuse unneeded give-a-ways, bags, or flyers).