Many of us are looking for ways to save money, as well as be greener in our habits. Luckily, more sustainable living and saving money often go hand in hand. Indeed, many of the things that you can do to live greener can also save you money. If you are looking for ways to green your home, while at the same time saving money, here are 5 ideas to implement:
1. Buy Energy Efficient Appliances
Energy efficient appliances use less energy, which helps the environment, and lowers your utility bill. Energy efficient appliances are becoming more common, so it is easier to find them at reasonable prices. From an energy efficient air conditioner, to a better freezer, consider replacing your older appliances instead of repairing them.
You don’t have to buy them all at once, either. Save up a little at a time, and replace your appliances a little at a time. As you go through, replacing your appliances, your home will become a little more energy efficient, you’ll use less power and save money on utility costs, and you’ll help save the environment (since most electricity comes from fossil fuels).
If your old appliance is still functioning when you do the replacement, you can try listing it on Craigslist and Freecycle. You can also check out your local appliance recycling program to prevent it from going to waste.
2. Pay Attention to Water Usage
Water conservation is an environmental issue, and it can also save you money on your utility bill. If you pay attention to your water usage, you can cut your water bill, while at the same time living more sustainably. Some of the things you can do to cut your water usage include:
- Take shorter showers
- Install low-flow shower heads and toilets
- Collect rainwater to use for watering plants and your garden
- Water your lawn early in the morning or in the evening to minimize water loss due to evaporation
- Use native plants, adapted to your climate, in your landscaping so that you don’t need to water them as much
- Turn off the water while brushing your teeth
- Identify and fix leaky faucets
There are a number of tweaks you can make to your daily routine, and more efficient products you can buy, that can help you use less water. You’ll be surprised at how much you save on your water bill, as well as the progress you make in sustainable living.
3. Perform an Energy Audit and Fix Problem Areas
If you are performing home maintenance tasks, you shouldn’t forget the home energy audit. You can pay to have one of these done, or see if there is a local company or organization that will do this for you. You can also perform a home energy audit on your own.
- Check for air leaks around windows, doors, and outlets.
- Make sure that air ducts are properly clean.
- Consider your outlets, and plan how you can utilize smart strips to reduce the energy vampirism that could be going on in your home.
- Buy a programmable thermostat (Consumer Reports claims that such a thermostat can help you save up to 20% on home energy costs).
- Consider adding insulation to better help your home retain heat during the winter and cool air during the summer.
Once you have identified problem areas in your home with your energy audit, make an effort to fix the problems. Your home, as a whole, will be more energy efficient and environmentally friendly, and you’ll be surprised at your utility savings.
While buying items made from recycled materials can help you have a greener home, it is also a good idea to recycle at home as well. And it’s about more than just throwing stuff in the recycle bin. Figure out how to reuse what you have before you throw it out or put it in the recycle bin. When we have to print something out, it usually goes to my son when we’re done with it so that he can draw on the back or practice origami. Shredded paper can be used as mulch for your garden and landscaping plants.
It’s also possible to reuse old rags and towels by weaving them into rugs and kitchen washcloths. I know a number of people who repurpose old containers for a variety of functions, from crafts to flower pots. Think about how your stuff can be reused before you chuck it in the bin.
5. Buy Used When Possible
Whether it’s furniture for the family room, curtains for the windows, clothing for your family, or something else for the home, consider buying used. When you buy new, you are using resources, from the manufacture of the item to the packaging it comes in. Instead, consider buying used or refurbished items. We bought a refurbished freezer five years ago that is energy efficient and still working just fine. Our computers are often refurbished as well.
Look for things that make sense to buy used, including exercise equipment, small kitchen appliances, and more. You can get items at a discount, and even free, if you make use of the freecycling movement. The savings will add up — and you’ll help keep more items out of the landfill.
Photo from Wikimedia Commons.
These are great tips to follow. I hope to one day own a self sustaining house that collects rainwater, uses solar panels, and of course a huge garden!
I have always recycled for as long as I can remember. It’s money back in my pocket. I also pay very careful attention to water and electricity usage as that’s my money going out the window when one of my 5 kids leaves a light on all day while no one is home (or the AC). And I’m working on saving for energy efficient appliances, like the stove. It’s definitely a work in progress.
Our city started a rewards program for recycling. I thought it was a pretty neat idea, you receive points you can later redeem towards your trash/water bill. I recycle anyways so it’s a win/win as far as I”m concerned :)