Friday, April 12, 2013

Saving Green by Going Green

Fancy yourself an expert on frugal living? In today’s economy, saving money is a priority in most households. Environmental concerns are also on the rise; everyone seems to be buzzing about “being green.” Thankfully, there are ways to save your money while doing your part to save the planet. We have compiled a two-fold list of helpful tips to capitalize on this win-win initiative.

Energy efficient lightbulb

In your home

This is obviously the space where you have to potential to save the most money. Running a household is downright expensive, but there are some simple ways to conserve both energy and water in your day-to-day activities. Check out these ideas about where to save your money indoors:

    Woman loading the dishwaster
  • Weather-stripping: Take the time to either improve or repair weather-stripping and caulk on windows and doors. When properly done, weather-stripping should cause resistance when you use the door. This will help to cut energy costs associated with heating and cooling.
  • Light bulbs: Make the switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). Although they cost a little more than traditional light bulbs, they use about 75% less energy.  They also tend to last about ten times longer.
  • Outlets: If you aren't using your television or your phone changer, those things can’t hike up your energy bill, right? Wrong. If it’s plugged in, it’s using something called “phantom” energy. Take the time to unplug everything when not in use, use power strips that allow you to cut off energy with the flip of a switch.
  • Thermostat: Adjust your central air temperature by a mere two degrees. This small shift up two degrees in the summer and down two degrees in the winter can save up to 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide annually while lowering your energy bills by about 5%.
  • Water heater: How hot do you really need your water? Does it have to be scalding? Turn that water heater down to 120 degrees; that’s warm enough.
  • Use cold water for laundry: Heating water accounts for about 90% of energy usage during a wash cycle. Detergents work just fine without heat, and set-in stains won’t magically be removed by using warmer water.
  • It’s best to use the dishwasher: The technology in today’s dishwashers actually makes more efficient use of water than hand washing. Typically, they use under ten gallons of water in one cycle. Trust your dishwasher and save even more water by not pre-rinsing your dirty dishes. Also, only run the dishwasher when there is a full load of dishes. 
  • Shower smarter: Shorten your showers and avoid water-hogging baths altogether.
  • Get creative with DIY cleaning products: Most cleaning products are toxic and harm the environment. Do everyone a favor by creating your own cleaning concoctions. Many use common household ingredients such as vinegar, baking soda, and lemons. Check out this TLC article for specific, cleaner-substitution recipes.

Outdoors and in your travels

Most money saving moms only think green about their indoor energy and water usage. However, if you’re a money saving expert, you also know how to save your money beyond the walls of your living space. Here are some of the best ways:

Grass: About 50 to 70 percent of the water homes use goes into their lawns and gardens. For the most efficient use of your water, only water your lawn early in the morning and keep grass three inches long in order to prevent the water from evaporating right away.

Hang-dry laundry: You don’t need to use a dryer if the weather outside is decent. Set up a clothesline and harness natural energy.

Hang-drying laundry

Plant trees: Trees are green, but in more ways than you might consider. How do trees help you reduce energy consumption and save money? When they have leaves in the summer, they help shade your home from the summer heat, reducing the amount of energy needed to cool your house. Conveniently, when they drop their leaves in the fall, trees allow sunlight to shine in and help heat your home.

Grow your own food: Planting seeds for a crop is a great deal cheaper than repeatedly buying store-bought produce. As an added benefit, no fruits and vegetables are fresher than those fresh out of your own garden.

Now you know how to save cash and how to be more green. You’re welcome!

Amanda Gilmore
Contributing Writer

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