Make a Difference

We at XPRIZE believe in creating radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity. We want the winners of our prizes to find solutions that will change the world. However, people don’t have to solve one of our prizes or come up with a new invention to make a difference. There are a number of small everyday things that we can all do that will make the world a better place.

How to lower your fuel bill

With gas prices soaring, people are looking for ways to save. We’re cutting corners all over the place: eating at home, buying fewer comforts, shortening vacations. But many people are forgetting that the easiest way to save on fuel costs is to reduce the amount of fuel you use, which you can do by improving your fuel economy. Here are just a few tips, taken from a variety of sources, for how to improve your mpg and reduce the amount you spend on fuel.

  1. Slow down

    Gas mileage for most cars is at its peak when traveling 55 or 60 mph. Any faster than that and mileage plummets. Think about this. It takes 15 minutes to travel 15 miles at 60mph. It takes just under 13 minutes to travel the same distance at 70 mph.

  2. Maintain your car

    If your car isn’t well maintained and operating at peak performance, then the engine will have to work harder, and it will burn fuel less efficiently. Keeping your tires properly inflated, your air filter clean, and your oil changes up to date can make sure that your engine is running at peak performance, and burning fuel as efficiently as possible.

  3. Avoid unnecessary strains on your engine

    Your engine is already trying to keep a 2000lb piece of metal moving. Why add more strain? Simple ways to reduce engine strain include keeping your windows rolled up at higher speeds, turning off the A/C unless you really need it, and carrying as little extra weight as possible.

  4. Plan

    A cold engine is less efficient than a warm one, so avoid taking multiple short trips in a day. Do all of your errands at once, and make lists before you leave of what you need so you don’t have to return to the store later to pick up forgotten items.

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How to lower your electricity bill

Like everything else, the cost of electricity is going up. There are a number of ways that you can save energy, cut your electricity bill, and create less pollution. Many of these tips are either free or inexpensive, and won’t take up a lot of your time.

  1. Turn it off

    Lights. The TV. The computer. The radio. It’s common sense, but when these things are left on, they use up energy. When you’re not using something, make sure that you turn it off.

  2. Control the temperature

    Do you really need the inside of your house to be 80 degrees in the winter and 65 in the summer? Try to keep a reasonable temperature, so the air conditioning and heater don’t have to work so hard. Also, make sure that there is nothing blocking the air conditioners and heaters. A poorly placed couch can impede the flow of temperature controlled air throughout the house, and make it twice as hard to heat or cool.

  3. Cooking habits

    There are a few minor changes to the way that you cook that can help to save energy. Make sure that your pots and pans have a flat bottom. Pots with rounded bottoms don’t transmit heat as efficiently. Also, get used to cooking with lids on; this captures more heat and allows you to cook faster and use less energy. When using the oven, try to minimize the number of times that you have to open the door. Avoid doing numerous spot checks; trust your timers.

  4. Eliminate phantom power

    Even when they’re turned off, things like VCRs, cell phone charges and computers are still drawing power. The simple solution is to unplug these things when you’re not using them. An easy way to coordinate all of this unplugging is to use a power strip and just unplug that.

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Ways to conserve water

Saving water goes hand in hand with saving energy because it bringing water into your house requires energy. Not only that, but conserving water now can help prevent or lessen the impact of a drought later. And there are a number of free, simple ways to conserve water.

  1. Don’t let the water run

    Shut the faucet off when you’re not actively using the water for anything. Soak your dishes instead of running water over them continually. Shortening your showers by one minute can save up to 1000 gallons per year. Shut off the water for the two minutes you’re brushing your teeth. Every little bit helps.

  2. Don’t over water

    Very few plants actually need to be watered every day. More plants are killed each year from over watering than under watering. In the wild they live just fine without interference from the human race. Pay attention to the weather. If it’s going to rain, outdoor plants don’t need to be watered. For indoor plants, you can collect rainwater and use that, or recycle the water that you use to wash your fruits and vegetables.

  3. Fill ‘er up

    Each time you run the washer or dryer, you use a great deal of water. Aside from buying a new, energy efficient appliance (which is always a good idea) the best way to cut down on the amount of water here is to use your washer less. So only use it when you have a full load. And if you can, reuse the items a couple of times before washing them again.

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