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Green challenges

Thinking global and acting local, Julie Grundy takes on any challenge we throw at her.

Get into the switching-off habit

Hand switching off the lights before bed

Credit: iStockphoto

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In the comments a little while ago, Patty mentioned that she was doing the switching off while she had her evening cup of tea. What a great idea! Given that switching off power at the wall can save us money as well as help the environment, it's a pretty good habit to get into. But learning new good habits can take a little while, and making them part of an existing habit is one of the easiest ways to start.

There's generally a pattern to how you can include a new habit in your life. It helps if you can:

  • work out the exact benefits
  • make it part of an existing routine
  • remove any obstacles that make it difficult to do the new task
  • make an effort to do the new task for at least 3 weeks in a row (if it's a daily habit)
  • reward yourself for doing it well
  • So to apply that to our saving energy challenge:

  • work out how much a 10% reduction in your electricity bill would save you, and how much CO2 you'd be preventing (statistics). Maybe you could write these numbers on a noticeboard or stick them on your fridge to remind you of the benefits
  • make switching off the power at the wall part of your evening routine - switch off before you turn out the lights, brush teeth, lock doors or whatever your normal bed-time routine is
  • get foot-switches or any other device that makes it easier to reach the switches, or get your power cords more organised (see last week's post for more ideas)
  • set your three-week goal, marking each day off on a calendar if that helps
  • if you complete your goal, reward yourself with some (organic, fair-trade) chocolate, or a sleep-in, or a movie, or whatever little treat you like best. Make sure it doesn't cost more than your 10% savings, though!
  • Now that it's become part of your daily life, you should find it easier to keep going with your energy-saving ways. These little tricks can help with any new eco-friendly habit you're trying to start.