Sylvania’s Earth Day Challenge & My Energy Gauntlet (+ Giveaway)

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I’m generally averse to any challenges that specifically coincide with Earth Day. It’s not that I don’t think the day is important. It’s just that because I focus on green living every day, it tends to feel a little disingenuous to ask people to make this or that change for Earth Day when I really want them to do it all the time. However, I also realize that this day is an excellent opportunity to educate the masses about green living. And when a company like Sylvania approaches me with a challenge so simple that literally anyone can participate, it didn’t take much convincing for me to sign on. Especially because all of these changes are ones that can be done any time of the year.

So what exactly is the 40 for the Future Challenge? Well, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, Sylvania is challenging everyone to take small actions to improve energy efficiency at home and at work. And over 40 days, lots of small actions will add up to 40 million kilowatt hours of energy saved. That’s a huge number to aspire to, but one that I believe can be reached if we all take part.

And everyone who participates will be entered to win daily prizes, weekly prizes and an awesome grand prize: A carbon-neutral, three-night vacation at Disneyland®. To offset  the carbon emissions from the trip, Sylvania will give one classroom a lighting upgrade that will reduce their energy usage. This drawing is offered to K-12 educators in a public or private school in the United States, and eligible entrants must present the lessons of the “40 for the Future Earth Day Challenge” to their students. Also, everyone who takes the challenge will be rewarded a coupon for $1 off a Sylvania energy saving light bulb.

Click here to take the challenge!

So far, here’s what I’ve pledged to do:

  • Turn incandescent lights off when not in use
  • Turn CFLs off when not in use
  • Dry dishes using the air-dry setting on the dishwasher
  • Don’t charge electronics overnight
  • Use warm or cold water in your washing machine
  • Use a low-flow showerhead
  • Turn off computer monitor(s) at night

There are many other small changes you can make, and I’d love to hear what you’ve pledged to do in the 40 for the Future Challenge! You can also follow them on Twitter and Facebook if you so desire.

Throwing Down the Energy Gauntlet


Sylvania’s challenge reminded me of a personal energy assessment I’ve been meaning to make in my own home. I have been focusing so much on indoor air quality in my home that I sometimes forget to pay attention to our energy usage. But in addition to the 40 for the Future Challenge, an electric bill of $200+ bought me out of my energy stupor. I also read at another blog (I read so many that the link escapes me, but I’ll link to it as soon as I find it) about how this particular blogger did a room-by-room assessment of her apartment to see what items she had that were plugged in all the time, and therefore using ghost power. She did pretty well, with very little plugged in other than the refrigerator and stove. When I looked around my own home, I’m embarrassed to say that I have a lot more than that.

So here’s my challenge to myself and to you. Go around your home and do a room by room assessment. How many items do you leave plugged in all the time? What do you leave turned on that you could easily turn off or unplug? I’ll list all of mine (as of today), and ask you to do the same in the comments section. Then every week, we’ll check in again to see if and how we have improved. I have a special prize, from my own personal stash, to offer. I’ll keep it as a surprise for now, but here’s a hint: It’s one of the items listed below that I always leave plugged in (but shouldn’t). Every reader who participates will get an entry to win for each week that you comment.

So here goes nothing:

Living Room

  • Lamp (main light source)
  • Laptop charger
  • Cordless phone
    NOTE: Our TV, Wii, DVD player are all plugged into a smart strip. What this means is that whenever we turn the TV off, that automatically cuts power to all the peripherals and shuts off the power strip. I strongly recommend using one of these for your TVs and computers, and I need to get some for my own computers.

Dining Room

  • Cordless vacuum charger
  • LED night light

Laundry Room

  • Washer & Dryer


  • Stove
  • Fridge
  • ActiveIon water ionizer (a cool little gadget that allows you to clean and sanitize using JUST water. Really.)
  • iPod speakers & dock

Home Office/Studio

  • Desk lamps (rarely used)
  • Closet lamp (rarely used)
  • PC desktop tower & monitor
  • Mac desktop
  • External hard drive
  • Cordless phone
  • Printer
  • Paper shredder
  • Battery recharger

Shame on me! This is the room where I need the most improvement, since most of these items could easily be unplugged or at least turned off when not in use. I know. I’m a bad girl. I need to get some smart strips in here!

Daughter’s Bedroom

  • TV
  • Playstation (used as a DVD player)
  • Lamp (used regularly)
  • Nightlight

Master Bedroom

  • TV
  • 2 lamps (we only ever use one)
  • Alarm clock
  • Charger for a voice activated TV remote (that we haven’t even programmed yet…tsk, tsk)
  • My cell phone charger
  • Husband’s cell phone charger

OK. I’m done embarrassing myself now. Clearly, we have a long way to go. We are moving into a new apartment next Thursday, but we’re taking all these items with us. We have GOT to be more conscious of unplugging a lot of these items. Next Wednesday, I’ll check in with you and let you know how we’re doing, and then again during the weeks following our move. The final check-in will be on Wednesday, April 21. I hope a lot of you will choose to join me and Sylvania on this journey!


As I mentioned, I have a special surprise giveaway package that I’ll reveal next week. For every week that you check in, you will receive an entry, for a maximum of 6 entries. For your entries to count, you must:

  • Tell me what you did to participate in the Sylvania 40 for the Future Challenge
  • List all the items in your home that are plugged in all the time, and show an effort to reduce your energy usage each week (In other words, the point is that you have fewer items plugged in during the last week than you did during the first week).

The giveaway entry period starts today and will continue through Wednesday, April 21 at 11:59 p.m. The winner, who will be randomly selected from all entries, will be announced on Earth Day, April 22. U.S. mailing addresses only!

I hope all of you are as excited about this as I am, because it really has the potential to improve the energy efficiency of all our homes. I can’t wait to read all your entries!

(sponsored opportunity): Full disclosure: I am being compensated by Sylvania for my time in participating in and promoting the 40 for the Future Challenge. And anyone who knows me knows that I wouldn’t participate if I didn’t believe it was truly an opportunity to make a difference, however small.

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