Should you focus on saving the planet, or saving money? Turns out you can do both. From lowering your electric bill to saving on groceries, you can find plenty of ways to stretch your budget and be good to Mother Earth. Some approaches are simple; some are more involved, but every little bit helps. You can always start small and work your way up.
Changing the light bulbs in your home offers one of the easiest ways to trim your energy bill. Switching from standard incandescent bulbs to compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs can help reduce electrical consumption. They use 75% less electricity and produce 75% less heat, making your house just a bit cooler in the summer. A CFL bulb can also save more than $40 in electricity costs over its lifetime. To save even more, turn off lights and other electrical devices when you’re not using them.
Adjust Your Thermostat
Set it a little higher in the summer and lower in the winter. In summer, set it at 78°. Every degree below 78 consumes 3% to 5% more energy. In winter, try dropping it to 68°. At night, you may be able to go down even further, as heat rises, and upstairs bedrooms can probably hold most of that residual heat until morning.
Water, Water, Everywhere
Water is another major expense that provides a lot of great opportunities to save money. You can start by ditching the bottled water. Instead, buy a reusable bottle with a built-in filter. You can get them for around $15, and they last a long time.
You can also save a good deal of money by switching to low-flow toilet bowls and showerheads. Fixing leaky faucets helps too. Installing water-saving fixtures, experts say, can save you around $100 a year in utility costs, and the planet benefits too.
You can reduce your water use outdoors as well. Try planting vegetation that doesn’t require a great deal of water to stay lush and healthy. You can easily find a list of such plants online. Installing a rain barrel can provide you with an ample supply of water to take care of your flowers and plants. Check with local government officials though, as some communities don’t allow you to capture rain water, while others impose restrictions on size and even the color of rain barrels. Increase the amount of landscaping to reduce lawn size. Less grass means less area to water and mow.
Cut the Motor from Your Mower
When it comes to cutting the grass, consider a non-motorized, hand-push lawn mower. Today’s light-weight models are much more agile and require far less maintenance than their powered counterparts. They don’t need gas or oil, and they produce no greenhouse gas emissions. They’re also a great source of exercise.
Car pooling saves you money on gas by spreading the cost of fuel among your passengers. If you alternate cars with fellow carpoolers, you’ll also reduce the wear-and-tear on your vehicle. It also makes sense to combine trips by running all of your errands at once.
It’s amazing how much you can clean with everyday household items like white vinegar, baking soda, borax, isopropyl alcohol, lemon, and cornstarch. Several websites offer tips on how to make cleaners using various combinations of these biodegradable ingredients.
All in the Family
Get the whole family involved in finding ways to save the planet and your budget. See who can come up with the best idea, and award a prize–something eco-friendly of course.
Sources: Energystar.gov, Patch.com, USNews.com, Worldwatch.org
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