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Image via http://www.adcraftmetrodetroitliving.org/lifestyleguides/gettingaround.aspx  May is National Bike Month, celebrating the many benefits of biking on our personal health and the environment. From 2000 to 2013, the number of bicycle commuters in the U.S. grew by more than 62%. With bikes emitting almost 8% less CO2/passenger than cars, bikers can greatly reduce our carbon footprint. While we aren’t all able to bike to work, we can all make small changes that make a big difference.  1. Replace your light bulbs Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) last 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs and use 75% less energy while giving off the same amount of light. They cost more per bulb but because of their longer life span and increased energy efficiency, you ultimately save about $30 per bulb.    2. Install low-flow showerheads and faucets A conventional showerhead uses 5 gallons of water per minute, while a low-flow showerhead uses only 1.5 gallons per minute. Today, a low-flow showerhead is just as good as a standard showerhead. You can choose between an aerating showerhead, which mixes air into the water to maintain a constant pressure, or a non-aerating showerhead, which uses pulses to keep the stream strong and the temperature constant. These fixtures are available for $20-$30, and can be found at most home improvement stores3. Upgrade your windows If your windows are drafty, they’re letting cold air in during the winter and hot air in during the summer. When this happens, we turn up the heat or the air conditioning to make up for the uncomfortable environment. Upgrading to energy efficient windows can not only prevent drafts and improve the look of your home, but also help the environment and save you money on your energy bills.    4. Unplug As we collect more personal electronics, our electricity usage continues to go up. To help control these rising costs, set your computer to sleep instead of using a screen saver when you’re not using it. Most electronics still use power even when you’re not using them or they’re turned off. In fact, a fully charged cell phone that’s still plugged in uses 2.24 watts of energy. To eliminate this waste, plug your electronics into a power strip and turn the strip off once everything’s charged. Or, simply unplug from the outlet when you reach 100%.  5. Air-dry your dishes By turning off the dishwasher after the wash cycle, you’ll save energy and keep your dishwasher from heating up your kitchen. Most dishwashers also have an “economy mode,” which uses less water and electricity.  Whether you start small by unplugging your electronics or go big and start biking to work, you’ll be reducing your carbon footprint, creating a cleaner planet, and putting a little extra money in your pocket.

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