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Announcing The Year of Intent : Use Intent.com to Reach Your Goals in 2014

year of intentWORDS

We’ve been bringing it up over the past several weeks but today the Intent team is excited to officially announce 2014 as THE YEAR OF INTENT. From here on out Intent.com and the blog will be used to support our community in achieving their goals. Intent itself will be striving to do it’s part as a brand and a conscious company to make a world a better place. We think that an essential part of that is by helping our community utilize the power of intent not just as part of a meditation or yoga practice, but in every aspect of their lives.

How? 

What do you want to accomplish in 2014? Mallika Chopra intends to write and publish her book Living With Intent. Gotham Chopra intends to launch The Religion of Sports  – a multimedia cross-platform project to answer why do you care so much about a thing you have no control over? Megan (Intent Blog editor) intends to finish her first screen play. MeLissa (Intent.com community moderator) intends to take her writing and acting career to the next level.

Whether you are trying to do something big like write a book or start a business or something more personal like intend to be a more patient person, we want you to come up with one major intent for 2014. Sign up (it’s totally free!) on Intent.com and post it in our Year of Intent category. We’ll be recruiting others with big projects to do the same. Then we’re going to support each other. Throughout the year you’ll update that intent with your progress (worksheets to help you keep track of your progress will be available soon!). Tell us about the major milestones you hit, or if you hit a snag and need help getting back in the saddle. We’ve enabled users on Intent.com to be able to post hot links and YouTube videos for multi-media projects. The blog will also be a tool for support (more on that below).

If you are unsure of how to set your intent or even what it is, read this post to help you get started.

Why

The idea of intent isn’t limited to meditation or a yoga space. We are trying to show that it’s a principal that can be applied to your every day life to make your life more fulfilling and help you achieve the things your soul most desires. We want to show you and the world how to do that and prove that intents aren’t something you state and then leave for the ether. The Year of Intent is going to help people create real change in their lives and the world by encouraging them to complete their heart projects. So we are inviting you to be part of that movement by adding your intent and going on this journey with us.

Okay, sounds good, but it also sounds like a lot of work. What’s in it for me besides some feel good stuff? 

We’re glad you asked. There are actually quite a few incentives for you to participate in Year of Intent. Let’s start with a basic few.

  • Quantifiable support: Intent.com is an active and growing community. Its members are also very active. As you update your intent you’ll have the community behind you – and the numbers are right there for you to show investors, publishers, agents, etc. So if you’re writing a book, as Mallika is doing, as you update your intent your support will grow. Chapter by chapter and and by the end of the manuscript you can go to publishers and say “I’ve been tracking my progress on Intent.com and I already have X amount of people in seeing this become a reality.” (Our newsletter mailing list alone has 30K, so that X can be quite impressive). For those pursuing creative intents having a measurable audience is a definite help when it comes to finding partners and companies to help distribute or officially launch your work and Intent.com can be the place where you grow that invested audience.
  • Collaborations: MeLissa and Megan will be monitoring the community and the intents daily. As you update your intents they will recommend users who are working on similar projects. So if you update your intent to say that you have hit a snag, there could very well be another member of the community who is working on something similar or has expertise in the field that you need and you can be connected. Not only does it foster the supportive vibe we want in the community but it also enhances your personal projects and could create lasting partnerships.
  • Accountability and inspiration: Everyone knows that a little pressure can be invaluable when you’re trying to reach a goal. Setting your Intent.com and creating an audience creates an accountability to keep up with your intent, whether its creative or personal (or both). We also encourage you to support others’ intents to make them accountable, and to draw inspiration from those around you also pursuing their goals.

I still don’t get what you mean by “update my intent.” Don’t I just make it and affirm it when it’s done? 

Year of Intent is about big goals, even if they are personal in nature. We want you to create an intent that is going to take work to complete. We’ve created worksheets and other tools to help you break your “big” intent down into smaller milestone goals. As you reach a milestone, you’ll update your intent with your progress. With the hot link and YouTube features you can actually show that progress as well to those who have supported you and also to show new members of the community or to your intent what you’ve been up to. By creating smaller goals to achieve it not only makes you accountable (see above!) but it helps make reaching your big intent more manageable, and you get encouragement along the way to help push you forward!

This is all happening on Intent.com. What about the blog though?

The blog is going to be Intent headquarters from here on out. We’ll still have great inspirational articles but they are going to be catered to supporting you and reaching your intents. There will be tips on setting your intents, how to keep the motivation going, useful habits for getting yourself out of a rut, etc. We will also increase the “From Intent.com” posts. Right now those happen once a week but we’ll start posting more frequently about inspiring intents that we see that we think the community should know about or that we thought are particularly inspiring.

Most excitingly though, we’ll be using the blog to help showcase updated intents and reward supporters with exclusive content from the intents they support. For example, Mallika is writing her book Living With Intent. One of her smaller goals is to finish a certain amount of chapters by the end of the first quarter. When she reaches that goal we will post a preview or sneak peak of what she’s been working on so you can actually see the work you’re supporting! So you’ll see it here on Intent Blog before it’s officially published anywhere else! This will happen with projects and intents all across the website. As more people sign up and start posting their intents we’ll post info about submitting to the blog as a featured Year of Intent participant. (Featured users will also go in our Intent newsletter as well. Add that to the incentives pile).

As Intent reaches out to more partners to help support the project – both companies that support healthy and wellness lifestyles as well as non-profit organizations we hope to spotlight – there will also be blogs about their intents, causes and goals for the year. They will sponsor content that helps inspire you in your pursuits and also give context to the work they are doing themselves to help make the world a better place.

This sounds great, but I’m not planning to write a book or start any massive projects in 2014. Why should I use Intent.com? 

Intent.com and Year of Intent is going to be useful for everyone. Even if you aren’t taking on a big creative or professional project, we encourage you to set some sort of goal for yourself in the coming year and set that intent. It can be something personal like wanting to get healthier or overcome an obstacle you see in your life. Those are just as important and valuable to our mission. Setting intents is about growing as a person and that means something different for every individual. Let’s say you have the following intent: “I intend to become a more open person in 2014.” Fantastic. How are you going to get there? Are you going to try and be more social? Are you going to join a new book club? Perhaps you’ll try meeting friends on MeetUps.com or go on more dates. Maybe you’ll offer forgiveness or an apology to someone you’ve been holding a grudge against for years. These are your smaller goals towards meeting your overall intent and the things that the community wants to support you in doing.

Support. This entire project will only work with support. Whether you have a project or not you can still support others who are blazing that trail (and who knows? Maybe it will inspire you to start your project). Add a supportive comment. Link them to a resource you think might help with their Intent. Share the intent with others. We believe that by joining the community and getting active you open yourself up and become a more conscious, mindful person.

More questions, comments, concerns?

Tell us in the comments below! Or email support@intent.com and we’ll be glad to advise the best we can!

Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Help us make 2014 a great your for Intent, for you, and this wonderful community.

Find Your Balance Between Leaning In and Leaning Back

rocksDance guru Gabrielle Roth once pointed out that in tribal cultures if a person felt disheartened or depressed the tribe’s healer would ask these questions:

When did you stop dancing?

When did you stop singing?

When did you stop being enchanted by stories?

When did you stop finding comfort in the sweet territory of silence?

Hmmmm….

I’m not disheartened or depressed. But I am busy (hard to relate to, right?). After 25 years working as a writer I’m finally birthing my first solo book—the dream of a lifetime coming to fruition—and I’m too damn busy to enjoy the experience.

That is depressing, isn’t it?

Most of my friends are in the same pickle. They’ve spent years chasing their dreams, developing a business, inventing a product, creating a family, and when it all finally lands on their plate, life goes nuts.

Everything becomes about the baby, the book, the film, the promotion, the (fill in the blank). Suddenly the smile disappears, personal conversations get slotted to midnight, new brow lines appear, and housecleaning… well, at least the dust bunnies in my house are having fun doing-it in every available corner!

Maybe I should take the hint and have some fun too?

But then I realize I’m too busy to date. I’d have to clean the house before inviting someone over. Plus how can I have a good time if there’s this anxious subterranean thought-stream flowing beneath every conversation? I can just see it:

Mr. Right looks deeply into my eyes, reaching past the wineglasses to hold my hand across the (newly washed) tablecloth. “Have I told you how beautiful your eyes are in candlelight?” he breathes silkily.

Crap! I forgot to ask about the mailing list and I’ve got to finish that press release and order books and… My mind wanders back to Mr. Right. How did he get hold of my hand?

“Er, did you say something?” I ask.

Sheryl Sandberg of Lean In fame would be proud of me. If I “leaned in” any more my whole life would implode. Do you want to know the real joke? The book I’m sweating over is dedicated to remembering how, amongst other many other things, to let go and lean back.

**

What’s the old cliché? You teach best that which you need to learn the most?

No kidding! I need to stop taking my life and my endeavors so doggone seriously: to remember to turn off the computer, turn off Pandora, turn off the cellphone, turn off my anxiety, tone down the mental chatter and really reflect on what I’m doing and what really matters in life.

I need to learn to STOP!

Yeah, I know. Scary thought. I’ve been raised to believe if I stop that I’m being self-indulgent and  – God forbid –unproductive. If I stop, Sheryl Sandberg won’t like me, the world will fall apart and I won’t SUCCEED.

How can I not believe this?

Humans are now called “resources.” Gross National Product is the measure of my nation’s health—never mind in America 26% of the population suffers from a diagnosable mental health disorder and 50% suffer from a chronic illness.

I’ve GOT to stop.

We’ve got to stop. It’s becoming a public health mandate. But aside from that, for God’s sake stopping is FUN, if we let it be.

Michael Grab, creator of the amazing picture at the head of this blog, leaned in and did what the world expected and graduated from college. But then he flipped the world the bird and started balancing rocks because it was fun. The practice brought what he calls “a zero point or silence within myself.” It brought him balance. Now his fun is his art-form and his life.

Writing has always been my fun. But I cannot let it own me, drive me, whip me. No no no, that would be a tragedy—my personal tragedy added to so many others in this world.

I need to lean back, to remember to dance and sing.

I need silence and the space to listen to other people’s stories.

Photo credit: Michael Grab,http://www.gravityglue.com

Mindy Kaling’s Rules For Writing in a “Voice Checklist.”

mindy-kaling-mindy-projectI’m a huge fan of Mindy Kaling. She is one of the geniuses behind one of my very favorite TV shows, The Office–and also played the great character, Kelly Kapoor. I love her book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns). And I’m looking forward to binge-watching her newish TV show, The Mindy Project. (Added bonus: I love anything that’s an “___ Project.”)

Mindy Kaling also gave one of my favorite happiness interviews here. One great passage: “When I was 18 years old, I took a semester off from college and was an intern at Late Night With Conan O’Brien. It was the most glamorous job I ever had, and I idolized the writers there. I remember lying in bed every night telling myself that if I ever got a job as a comedy writer, I would be so happy and all my dreams would have come true. Six years later I got that job, working on The Office. I felt incredibly happy and grateful for a about a week, and then a whole new set of complaints set in. This would’ve shocked and disgusted my 18-year-old self. It’s helpful to remember the younger version of me because it reminds me to feel grateful when I want to be snotty.”

Mindy Kaling was on the cover of Entertainment Weekly this week, and the accompanying article included “Mindy’s Rules for Writing,” which is the “voice checklist” that hangs in her writers’ room. “The truth is,” she explained, “it’s much easier to write a bunch of mean zingers.”

Characters are helpful and kind.

No one is a moron.

Characters are polite.

Conflict should never come from a desire to be cruel or mean.

Do not fear nuance. Comedy from avoiding conflict, not instigating it.

Characters don’t have to be maxed out to be funny.

To me, this list also suggests how TV writers can avoid cliche. We’re also so familiar with the tired stock characters, the broad insults, the unrealistically extreme behavior that falls into the same patterns. These kinds of rules make it fresh.

What do you think of these rules?

If you’re reading this post through the daily email, click here to join the conversation. And if you’d like to get the daily blog post by email, sign up here.

Also …

  • Are you reading Happier at Home or The Happiness Project in a book group? Email me if you’d like the one-page discussion guide. Or if you’re reading it in a spirituality book club, a Bible study group, or the like, email me for the spirituality one-page discussion guide.

4 Laws of Success Any Ambitious Person Should Know

Screen Shot 2013-07-15 at 2.26.57 PMBy Kaihan Krippendorff

You’ve felt it before: you create an intention – you want to leave your job, start a strategic project at work, write a book, start a new venture – but instead of truly living that intention, you are waiting, like a shy high-schooler at your first school dance, for a reason to jump in.

I felt this myself last week. I was burning to get into the game, to finish my PhD and launch a consulting firm. But the usual mental blocks emerged: can I do it when I’ve failed before? Is this really my calling? Will I see it to the end without getting discouraged or bored? Why start today when there is always tomorrow?

And as I sat there on the edge, contemplating these questions, the game was underway without me.

How do you get out of the stands and get in the game?

To answer this, I studied three books – The Four Disciplines of Execution by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey and Jim Huling, Ownership Thinking by Brad Adams, and Strategy Maps by Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton – and put myself into the Fortune Magazine Gazelles Leadership Conference where I heard from a powerful line-up of business thinkers including Daniel H. Pink (To Sell is Human), Jim Loehr (The Power of Full Engagement), and Jack Stack (The Great Game of Business). Along the way, I also interviewed two CEOs and a naval captain who oversees a big chunk of strategic execution for the Southern Command.

There were four key themes that these books and speakers repeatedly touched on. They are the closest hints we have to universal laws of success:

  1. Create a game: Remove the seriousness from your decision by conceiving it as a game. You play to win, but if you lose, there is another game coming. This frames the game in a series of sprints and provides a healthy dose of detachment, which will have you playing with more energy. I realized my ambition to start a consulting firm seemed daunting because I viewed my new firm as a permanent extension of me, like the only painting I would ever paint. Instead now I think of it as a game called “launch and build in five years the world’s first true strategic innovation firm … something that will live on without me.” Knowing that this game is not the last you will ever play will liberate you.

  2. Name the game: To win the game, you need to always remember you are playing it. This helps if you have a memorable name. Pick a name that is short, fits a metaphor, rhymes and/or evokes a story. Game names I have seen work include “Win the Lighthouse,” “5 by 5,” and “The 180.” We haven’t named our game yet, but I am going to propose “tent pole” – we need four to five core clients to be the poles to our tent.

  3. Pick one score: My 3-year old son just started playing soccer. Now, he doesn’t know off-sides from out-of-bounds, but he does know one thing – the goal is to make a goal – and that drives him around like a bee in search of honey … “Get the ball in the net!” Similarly, your game should have one score. Sure you will have other KPIs (key performance indicators) to track, but in any given year, in any given quarter, focus yourself and your team on just one goal. The most important goal for my consulting firm is pipeline value. Later on we may switch our score to “client satisfaction” or “intellectual property,” but if we don’t win enough clients now, we’ll never get a chance to play those games.

  4. Monitor the board: Nearly every source I read or heard touched on the need to keep the score top of mind for you and your team by reviewing it in a rapid rhythm. I missed a flight once because I was on the phone and didn’t see the boarding notice. My client was visibly stressed out when an hour before I was set to take the stage, they had 500 people seated, but I still hadn’t walked through the door. Everything worked out. The following flight got me in just in time. But now in airports I check the board every three minutes and I haven’t missed a plane since. My team and I have set up a daily “huddle” and weekly “opportunity call” to track our board.

This all it takes to jump into action: create a game, name the game, pick one score, and monitor the board. Do it now. It will take 20 minutes and the results could pay off for a life time.

Are You a Marathoner, a Sprinter, or a Procrastinator?

Screen Shot 2013-06-05 at 5.00.30 PM

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post, Are you a tortoise or a hare about work? It was about the question of whether you’d prefer to work fewer hours over more days, or more hours over fewer days. I’ve been thinking more about this distinction. First point: I’m re-naming these categories “marathoners and sprinters.”

A larger point: one reason that I’m a marathoner is that I really dislike deadlines. I really, really, really don’t like to have work hanging over me. For instance, when I was in law school, I had two major writing requirements to fulfill by the end of my third year, and I completed them both by the end of my first year. (Sidenote: perhaps my eagerness to write big papers could have been perceived as a sign that I would rather be a writer than a lawyer, but that’s another story.)

I know I could never be a journalist, because I wouldn’t be able to take the deadlines. Having a big deadline at the end of a very long period–as with a book–is fine, because it gives marathon-me plenty of time. I like to do a little work over a long period of time, with a lot of opportunity to reflect and research and refine, and ample margin in case some emergency prevents me from working. However, I know that many people need deadlines to work. Sprinters, am I right in assuming that deadlines are important to your process? Is it too much of a stretch to call you deadline-dependent–that is, you won’t start your sprint until the deadline looms?

Also, it seems to me that there’s a difference between sprinters and procrastinators. Agree, disagree?

From my observation, sprinters deliberately wait for the pressure of a deadline to help clarify their thinking. For instance, a friend told me, “I never prepare a talk until right before I have to give it–I mean, people are in their seats and I’m standing waiting to go out to a podium. It drives my staff crazy, but that’s when I get all my ideas.” Another friend has a book to write, but she won’t start until a few months before it’s due. She likes to sprint, and she knows how long it will take her to write the book, so she doesn’t want to start until she’ll feel the deadline pressure.

This approach seems different from procrastination. With procrastination, people feel as though they should be working, and they wish they could work, but somehow they can’t make themselves. They aren’t choosing to hold back; they can’t force themselves forward until the deadline is so urgent that they must act. (Want tips to stop procrastinating? Look here.) How do procrastinators feel about the marathoners and sprinters? Many procrastinators seem to wish they could be marathoners, but maybe that’s not a good fit for their natures.

I’ve just started to consider these distinctions, however. What do you think? Marathoners, sprinters, procrastinators, or any combinations of the three, please weigh in.

* * *

Would you like a free, personalized, signed bookplate for your copy of The Happiness Project or Happier at Home? Or, if you have the e-book or the audio-book, a signature card? Or would you like these for a friend? Request them here. Ask for as many as you’d like, but alas, because of mailing costs, I can now mail only to the U.S. and Canada. So sorry about that.

Photo credit: FindingTheObvious

Do You Have the Grit It Takes to Follow Your Dreams?

Screen Shot 2013-06-04 at 1.50.34 PMHave you ever wanted to give up on something that you really, really wanted because it was just too darn hard to keep trying? 

You can’t run one more step, write one more word, endure one more dead end? Join the club.

Can I Sit Down Now?

But, before you throw in the towel, there’s something you should know.

People who succeed at getting what they want in life aren’t smarter, more talented, or luckier than you.

They just might have something psychologists call grit: the ability to keep going no matter what. Grit, it turns out, may be one of the most powerful ingredients in your success recipe.

Smart Grit

I’m not talking about trying endlessly to reach a goal where the chance of victory is close to zilch, like opening an ice cream shop in Antarctica. Although never say never.

I’m talking about the grit you need to stay on your healthy diet, save money, or start that business. Grit is different from willpower, the ability to focus for snippets of time, say, just long enough to resist that cookie. Grit is willpower’s big brother. It’s endurance for the long haul; the stamina to keep going even when you stumble.

I Want Some Grit, Please

When I was writing my doctoral dissertation, an intense research project that was my final step before getting my PhD, I needed a giant dose of grit.

That’s because the dissertation experience can be pretty grueling. I’d met students who were in dissertation-anxiety support groups, and I’d watched exhausted graduates–sporting newly spawned gray hair–lumber down the aisle to finally accept their diplomas, some after ten years. It was clear; I was going to need some serious stick-to-itiveness if I wanted to make it to graduation before my social security benefits kicked in.

Santa To The Rescue

My own grit arrived in an unexpected flash of inspiration. In the midst of a late night writing session, I suddenly remembered a television show my brothers and I watched every year at Christmastime called “Santa Claus is Comin’ To Town.” In the show, there was a song I never forgot called Put One Foot In Front Of The Other.

I suddenly realized that to complete my dissertation, that’s exactly what I needed to do: put one foot in front of the other. Rather than looking at the enormity of the task ahead of me, I needed only to write one word, one paragraph, one page at a time. If I could do that–over and over again–I could find my grit and finish my dissertation.

To remind myself, on the wall over my computer, in big blue letters, I taped the words “Darlene, Put One Foot In Front Of The Other.” When I felt my spirits sag or there was a unexpected detour, I looked up at those words on the wall. I pushed ahead–one step at a time–and made it all the way to graduation day.

You Can Do It!

Are you chasing a dream that feels distant? Or do you want to improve your life in some way, but it’s hard to stay on track? I know it’s tough to keep going when you’re alone on your path or the road ahead is unclear.

That’s why I want to share with you the 3-minute video clip that inspired me. Watch it, and remember its simple message: put one foot in front of the other. Those words were so encouraging to me, they’ve since become my personal mantra. No matter where you’re headed–one step at a time–that’s how you’ll get there.

I AM THE BEARER OF GOOD NEWS. EXCELLENT NEWS!

               I AM THE BEARER OF GOOD NEWS. EXCELLENT NEWS!
At last, God listened to our prayers. Yesterday, as I finished sending you three contributions from a cyber café I got home and turned on the TV, every channel was broadcasting the same news. From June seventh to July seventh the private sector will receive projects to solve our countries main issues from any citizen, organization or enterprise. Please keep your fingers crossed regarding my contributions to improve education in my country with a supplementary program. Initiative Mexico is the name of this huge invitation. You can access to this site at www.iniciativamexico.org and use a translator to accompany me and many other true Mexican to do something for our country.
Since I was a small child, I’ve always thought BIG! To me, there have always been easy solutions. I love my country with great passion, but mainly I love my people, wonderful people. I love this fantastic land; A land full of bright colors, pleasant odors, exuberant vegetation, sacred places. A land filled with magic ,rituals, traditions and mystery. I’ve always been a realistic person, so I’m aware about all the negative aspects, but now with our contributions will indeed neutralize them with great efficiency. I am so optimistic because now the Government will listen and the private sector will back up great ideas! I feel great! Thank you all! I expect to be the magical Mexican Candyman. VIVA MÉXICO!!!

9 Green Home Projects You Can Do Today

 Between the economic meltdown and the push for green buildings, saving energy, water and money in your home is more popular than ever. Fortunately, greening your home doesn’t have to be time consuming or expensive. We caught up with Eric Corey Freed, principal of Organic Architect, and author of the new book, Green$ense for the Home. Here’s his list of nine simple things anyone- renters and homeowners alike- can do in their home today…

1. Change your light bulbs already! How many environmentalists does it take to change a light bulb? There are several answers to this joke (none of them that funny), but the real answer is: “all of them.” In your home, lighting accounts for nearly 30 percent of all electricity use. By using compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs, you can cut lighting costs by 30 to 60 percent, while improving the quality of the light and reducing environmental impact at the same time.

2.  Convince your toilet to use less water. More water is consumed per person in the US than in any other country. More than a quarter of all of the water used inside the home is flushed down the toilet, which is, literally, a waste. The toilet is the single largest user of clean drinking water inside the home, and it is also the easiest place to conserve water.

Before you run out and replace your existing toilets, there are simple and effective things you can do to trick your old toilet to use less water, from flush adapters to flusher adjustments and tank tricks. And when the time comes to replace your working toilets, make sure you buy a low-flow or dual-flush model.

3. Use Less Water in the Shower. Showers add up to nearly 20% of all indoor water usage and are the largest users of hot water. By simply installing a low-flow showerhead, you can save up to 4,000 gallons of water annually, and for every gallon of hot water you save, that’s gas or electricity you don’t need to use to heat it. If your average shower is 10 minutes long, upgrading your old showerheads to a low-flow model will save 25 to 55 gallons of water for every shower you take, and potentially shave 30% off utility bills!

4. Keep Vampires at Bay. In the average home, 75% of the electricity used to power home electronics- cable boxes, DVD players, video games, stereos- is consumed while the products are turned off. That’s money that could stay in your pocket. If something is plugged into the wall- a TV, a cellphone charger, an appliance- even if it’s not on, it draws electricity. We call this demand of energy “phantom loads” or, more appropriately, “vampire loads,” since they suck energy. While the amount of power used is relatively small, they can add up to more than 10% of your electricity bill.

There are several simple ways to slay vampire loads: Unplug any appliance with a standby light. Get a power strip for appliances, and flip the switch off when not needed. Or, consider Smart Strips, which sense when power is being drawn and shut off automatically- as simple to install as a regular strip, and you don’t need to worry about vampire loads ever again.

5. Install a Programmable Thermostat. A programmable thermostat operates only during the times you set. For example, a programmable thermostat could lower the heat at 10 p.m. every night, when you’re bundled under the covers in bed. It could also be programmed to return the room to a more comfortable temperature 30 minutes before you wake up. The average household spends more than $2,000 a year on energy bills- nearly half of which goes to heating and cooling.  You can save $150 a year just by properly setting a programmable thermostat. Once set correctly, a programmable thermostat can cut your heating and cooling bills by 20% to 30% annually.

6. Put a Coat on Your Hot Water Heater. If your home is like most, hot water is produced in a hot water heater. This large tank usually sits in a garage, closet, or basement and slowly heats up a vat of water, and keeps it hot all day and night. Nearly 20% of all of the energy used in the home goes just to the water heater, making it the second-largest energy user in homes after heating and cooling. Insulating a water heater tank reduces the heat losses by 25% to 45%. This translates into as much as a 9% savings in total energy usage.  If everyone in the US insulated their hot water heaters, nearly 11 billion kWh of that energy would be saved- enough to power 11.9 million homes in a year.

7. Weatherize Windows. The largest source of energy loss in your home is your windows. If you add up the area of all of the cracks and leaks around the windows of your home, it would total about the size of an entire window. Installing new windows can solve much of this problem, but that can be a big job. Simply weatherizing- sealing the cracks and leaks around your windows and exterior doors- can have an immediate impact on your energy savings and can be completed in an afternoon.

Purchase only caulking with low or zero Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). Figure that six to eight tubes at a total cost of no more than $65 should be enough to seal a 3,000-sq.-ft. house with 15 to 20 windows.

8. Install a solar powered clothes dryer: a clothesline. Today, 80% of households have a washer and dryer, but this convenience comes at a price. Electric clothes dryers eat up 10% of a home’s energy. Each load of laundry gives off around 5.6 lb. of carbon dioxide per load. That adds up to more than 2,000 pounds of CO2 a year just from drying clothes. A solar-powered clothes dryer is a smart and highly energy efficient way to dry your clothes. Also known as a “clothesline,” this idea has been around for centuries and provides an affordable, easy alternative to the high cost of clothes-drying convenience.

9. Compost and Recycle. The average American produces 4.6 lb. of trash a day, which totals up to 251.3 million tons a year. Landfills pollute our water, take up enormous amounts of space, and (surprise) no one wants to live near them. Most people don’t realize the biggest problem with landfills is the emissions they generate, namely methane and carbon dioxide gas, which contribute to global warming. By composting and recycling, we can reduce the trash in landfills and do long-lasting good for our environment.

Recycling and composting require nothing except the desire to do it. Contact your local trash pickup company and request a free recycling bin (you may also be able to get a free compost bin). While not every town recycles, many do and will have specific rules for how to separate the items.

Each of these steps will pay for themselves in under a year.  Plus you’ll rest easy knowing you are doing your part for our environment.

 

 This post originally appeared on www.refresheverything.com, as part of the Pepsi Refresh Project, a catalyst for world-changing ideas. Find out more about the Refresh campaign, or to submit your own idea today. 

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