Many of us may plan a ramen-noodles-every-night budget, but all we really need to do is make a few tweaks to our daily routines. “Go green” isn’t just Captain Planet’s battle cry, it’s the advice that will keep the green in our wallets (and on our plates).
Think about it: Most of the things that we use every day — televisions, computers, microwaves, overhead lights, showers and washing machines — use energy. Every time we turn something on, only to meander from the room, we’re upping our electric bills.
Small actions lead to lasting changes. “I’ve started unplugging chargers if they’re not in use,” says Kim Bond, B.S.N., R.N.C., clinical documentation specialist, Health Information Management. “I charge my cell phone and iPod overnight and unplug the chargers from the outlet in the morning.”
We’ve all heard that you have to spend money to make money, but sometimes spending money can help you save money. Purchasing appliances with the Energy Star label saves you thousands of dollars in the long run: An Energy Star refrigerator can shave $100 off your energy bill each year. Patricia Drummond, C.R.N.P., Department of Anesthesia at Sinai Hospital , earned quick cash by donating her old fridge. “BGE came to pick up the old one and will give me $50 for it.”
For some staffers, conservation is a family affair. “My children are notorious for leaving the overhead kitchen light on,” says Doreen A. Lisa, coordinator of office services, Alvin & Lois Lapidus Cancer Institute . “I’ve installed a motion sensor light switch that turns the light off when no one is in the room.”
Steve Wadsworth, corporate buyer in Materials Management, uses an old-fashioned approach. “We have a wood stove, which heats the entire basement and first floor of our house. It not only heats the house, but it also dries my family’s clothes. We even cook on it most Saturday nights. A lot of people may not have a wood stove or fireplace, but for those who do it’s a tremendous cost and energy saver.”
Sadly, we can’t rely on the coziness of wood stoves to warm our offices. According to the Energy Star website, health care organizations spend nearly $8.8 billion on energy each year, mostly on lighting. Reducing this consumption frees up funding for state-of-the-art equipment. Lewis Poe, director of Facilities at Sinai Hospital and a member of the Freedom to be Green team, implemented a plan to replace the fluorescent light bulbs in the hospital with energy-efficient LED bulbs. Over 7,600 bulbs have been replaced, saving more than $850,000.
Pitching in is as easy as flicking a switch, literally. “When I see lights on in the restroom when no one is using it, and in the hallways when there are no patients in the area, I turn them off,” says Bernice Tyson, a patient registration associate in the Radiology department at Sinai.
Though Kermit the Frog once sang, “It ain’t easy bein’ green,” these LifeBridge Health staffers would beg to differ.