These 7 Eco-Friendly Tips Will Help You Save the Planet — and Your Wallet
The first thing we noticed when we moved into our new home was that the hot water was burning us.
Fortunately, I fixed it by simply adjusting the temperature setting on the hot water heater. No more burns — and using less electricity or gas to heat the water is good for the environment.
7 Ways to Go Green and Save Money
But it was also good for our bank account. I figure we’ll save $40 per year by keeping the setting lower.
You can save more, too. Here are seven habits for saving money while going green.
1. Use the Sun to Save Money
Heating and cooling costs make up nearly half your energy bill — about $1,000 a year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
You don’t need expensive equipment to do a little solar heating.
Just open the curtains on the south side of the house during winter days to let the sun shine in. And open the drapes on east-facing windows in the morning (if they’re not shaded).
Of course, the opposite is true when you need to keep the house cool. Use light-blocking drapes on the sunny side to keep out sunlight.
2. Drink Tap Water
I was so happy to taste the tap water when we recently moved back to Colorado from Florida. It’s delicious!
We immediately ended our $250-per-year bottled water habit — and we’d been drinking the cheap bottled water.
Don’t like the taste of your tap water? Buy a water filter pitcher for less than $20 and enjoy fresher-tasting water without wasting bottles.
What about the environmental impact? The Water Project says:
- It takes three liters of water to package one liter of bottled water.
- Water bottles can take 1,000 years to biodegrade, and if incinerated, they produce toxic fumes.
- Making water bottles for U.S. demand alone takes more than 1.5 million barrels of oil.
If you can, drink from the tap. We also keep a bottle of tap water in the fridge to take with us when we drive anywhere.
3. Develop Green Laundry Habits
There are a number of ways to save money doing your laundry — and almost all of them are also environmentally friendly.
Here are some of the best green and frugal habits, along with the potential annual savings:
- Wash in cold water ($40)
- Replace the old washer ($135)
- Keep the dryer lint trap clean ($34)
- Line drying your clothes (savings vary)
- Run full loads (savings vary)
4. Hunt Down and Put an End to Energy Vampires
The U.S. Department of Energy says energy vampires — electronics and appliances that keep using power when turned off — can add 10% to your electrical bill.
For example, phone chargers keep sucking down power even when you’re not charging, and a digital cable box can add to your bill if you don’t unplug it between uses.
Always forgetting to turn off your power strip to save on energy? Invest in smart power strips, which automatically cut the power to devices that go into standby mode.
But who wants to run around unplugging things all the time?
Instead, plug electronics into power strips that have an on/off button so you can easily cut the power to the TV and DVD player with the flip of a switch.
5. Use Alternatives Transportation to Cars
When we lived in Tucson, Arizona, my wife and I bought unlimited bus passes for $40 per month, and we went without a car for a while.
A car certainly costs more than the $80 we spent for monthly transportation.
Even if you own a car, you can save money using public transportation. Take the bus or train on longer cross-town trips that would eat up more gas, or to avoid paying for parking.
And if the store is nearby and you only need to carry a few things, just walk or bike.
All options allow you to significantly reduce your car-related expenses — and you’ll put a lot less pollution into the air.
6. Get an Energy Audit
A home energy audit can identify easy-to-correct energy waste issues in your home, and many utility companies offer them for free or a small charge.
If the cost of a professional audit or assessment is too high for you, just do it yourself. The U.S. Department of Energy has a page that walks you through the process.
7. Stop Those Water Leaks
The average household wastes nearly 10,000 gallons of water every year due to leaks, according to the EPA.
If you’re going on vacation, shut off your water at the main supply before you leave the house to save money — and avoid the unwelcome surprise of a burst pipe or an overflowing toilet.
Using common household tools — and maybe a trip to the hardware store — you can fix most of these leaks without professional help (or at least with a YouTube tutorial video):
- Worn toilet flappers
- Dripping faucets
- Leaking valves
Steve Gillman is the author of “101 Weird Ways to Make Money” and creator of EveryWayToMakeMoney.com. He’s been a repo-man, walking stick carver, search engine evaluator, house flipper, tram driver, process server, mock juror, and roulette croupier, but of more than 100 ways he has made money, writing is his favorite (so far).