I just spent 2 weeks in Italy on a pilgrimage to Bari, my Father’s hometown. What an incredible trip! While eating and drinking my way through the Italian region of Puglia, I couldn’t help but notice how effortlessly the Italians conserved energy and water.

So, in addition to 5 pounds of “panza,” I’ve brought back with me these red, white and green tips to share with you.

9 Ways To Be Energy Efficient… Italian Style

1. Ditch (or reduce) The Dryer

Italians air-dry everything. You can see clothes hanging on balconies, out windows, even on racks right on the sidewalk. (And somehow they manage to make it look artistic…) Yes, some HOAs won’t allow airing your, well, clean laundry, but hang drying in doors works well too.



2. Multi-use Your Cooking Water

In many pasta recipes, Italians use the same water to boil pasta and cook their vegetables, sometimes together at the same time! (Once almost cooked, drain the veggies and pasta, sauté in garlic and olive oil, meal done!)


3. Use Motion-sensors

In many places in Italy, lights are never just left on (i.e. hallways, restrooms, entries etc.). They’re on motion sensors, even in bathrooms. It took a moment for me to figure that out while feeling around in the dark for a light switch in a restaurant bathroom. Lights are also on a timer that shuts off at a pre-set amount of time when motion is no longer detected.

4. Pull the Plug on Vampires Appliances

Hotel rooms have a power saving electricity key card. Your room card must be inserted into a slot in order to activate electricity in the room. When leaving the room, you pull out the card and everything shuts down (except the fridge). Impossible to leave lights/AC on for hours while you’re touring about. While we don’t have this feature in our homes, we can certainly turn off power strips and all non-essentials when we leave for several hours. (FYI… Vampire Appliances or Phantom Load refers to appliances or electronics that pull power even when in the “off” position.)

5. WALK!

Italians walk everywhere. If they’re not walking, they’re bike riding. Yes, they Vespa and drive cars too, but for the most part, there’s a whole lot of walking going on.

6. Boot The Plastic Disposable Bags

Baskets and reusable grocery bags have long been in “fashion” when shopping at the market and around town.

7. “Shutter” Out Heat

All those quaint picturesque shutters do a great job of keeping out sunlight that heat up homes in warm months. Italians also use long curtains in front of doors to allow the breeze to flow through while blocking sunlight. PS – That’s me, soaking it all in.


8. Dual Flush Toilets

Just about every toilet I came across had small and large flush feature–from high-end hotels to small cafes.

Norma sig

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Fix-It Friday is an exclusive Women You Should Know® editorial series authored by seasoned veteran of home improvement, Norma Vally, the former host of Discovery Home Channel’s series “Toolbelt Diva” and a show on Sirius Satellite Radio by the same name. The weekly column is designed to inspire women – weekend warriors, aspiring handywomen, and even seasoned DIYers – to take on home repairs and maintenance projects with confidence and gusto.