So you want to save both the planet and your savings account. Well, you’ll be happy to learn that the two goals aren’t mutually exclusive. By following a few common sense guidelines, you’ll be ready for Earth Day with a bit of extra money in your savings account, as well!
First, start with the items that use energy around the house. The first one’s kind of a no-brainer, but if you haven’t already switched out your incandescent light bulbs for compact fluorescent or LED bulbs, you’ll be happy to know that fluorescent bulbs convert most of the energy they use into light, rather than heat, so they last a lot longer than conventional light bulbs. They also use less energy: according to the Energy Star website, “By replacing your home’s five most frequently used light fixtures or the bulbs in them with models that have earned the Energy Star, you can save $45 each year.”
In addition to ensuring that all your major appliances are energy efficient, there are other common sense ways to save energy—such as only using what you absolutely need, to begin with. This includes actions as simple as turning off the lights when you leave a room and using water efficiently: for example, only wash full loads of laundry—rather than partial loads—and shorten the length of your showers. You can also try grilling outside in the summertime, rather than using your oven, and conserve energy by using your AC in the summer and heater in the winter sparingly!
Heating & Cooling
Speaking of heating and cooling, one way to ensure energy efficiency is by getting your HVAC system inspected by a certified HVAC technician, who can make sure your system runs efficiently and economically—potentially reducing your AC’s energy consumption by 15 percent. During the winter months, you can also try reducing reliance on your heating system by opening the blinds or shades and letting the sun shine through your windows, to help warm the rooms in the house.
Speaking of heating, remember, also, that it need not always feel like the tropics in your house, year-round. Try turning your thermostat down to closer to 60 degrees and do what your grandfather used to do: put on a sweater. You’ll also want to make sure your place is as weatherized and insulated as possible: try foam weather stripping for your windows and doors, and try thick curtains on the windows, during the winter months. You might also consider investing in more energy-efficient windows, eventually, which will definitely cut down on your heating and cooling bills, year-round!
What are some other, less-obvious ways you can benefit the environment? Think about unnecessary trash you may be throwing out. If you’re interested in gardening, this spring, consider starting a compost pile in your backyard. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, almost 180 million tons of trash is produced in the United States, each year; out of that, more than 13 million tons is made up of food waste. Being more conscious of overbuying, as well as composting coffee grounds and produce scraps and freezing leftovers, will help reduce unnecessary waste and contribute to a more satisfying way of life by encouraging you to garden, as well! Gardening cuts down on grocery expenses, to boot!
Think, also, about water: in addition to using water bottles rather than buying wasteful bottled water, consider drought-tolerant landscaping for your front yard and be more conscious of shower times. In addition, be conscious of turning off unneeded running water while brushing your teeth or washing the dishes. Finally, fix leaky faucets and save excess water, such as that which runs while waiting for your shower to warm up: try placing a bucket inside the shower to collect warm-up water; you can utilize the excess for mopping or watering plants.
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I hope this guide to sustainability at home gives you a few useful ideas for saving money and energy in your everyday life. Share your own experience with energy-saving in the comments section, below!