When it comes to living green, some people may think it requires major lifestyle changes.
However, by changing only a few personal habits, you could be friendly to your wallet and the environment at the same time.
In celebration of Earth Day on April 22, here are some eco-friendly ways to save money:
Grow your own food
From fruits and vegetables to herbs and spices, there’s a large variety of food you can grow at home. In addition to enjoying fresh food at a low cost, you could save extra money by cooking at home more and eating out less. If you need help getting started, try these tips to growing your own food.
Wash laundry in cold water
According to ENERGY STAR, up to 90% of the energy used for washing clothes goes toward heating the water.1 Unless the items being washed require hot water to kill bacteria, such as bed linens or cloth diapers, you could save up to $200 per year on electricity costs by washing and rinsing your laundry in cold water.2
Line dry your clothes
Electric clothes dryers are another avoidable energy cost. If you hang your laundry on a clothesline or use a drying rack, you could save money on electricity and preserve the life of your clothing as well.3 If you’ve never line-dried your clothes before, try these tricks and tips for line drying clothes.
Plant a tree
A study by the U.S. Department of Energy shows that properly shading your home can reduce air conditioning costs by 15-50%.4 While it may take time for a young tree to grow and provide adequate shading, you could buy or transplant a tree that has already matured for an immediate effect. If you don’t feel comfortable planting a tree on your own, contact your local government or utility company to see if they offer a free tree-planting program.
Use less water
Nearly 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered by water.5 However, less than 1% is available for human use.6 To help conserve this finite resource, there are many water-efficient products you can install at home to lower your water usage and water bill. Look for the WaterSense label as you shop to ensure the product is backed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Change your lightbulbs
Energy-efficient lightbulbs, such as compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and light emitting diodes (LEDs), offer several advantages over traditional incandescent lightbulbs.7 For example, they can last up to 25 times longer and use approximately 25-80% less energy over their lifetime.8 If you replaced the five most-used bulbs in your home with CFLs or LEDs, you could save up to $75 each year on electricity costs.9
Unplug appliances when not in use
Known as “energy vampires,” some appliances can continuously draw power from an outlet when turned off or in “standby” mode.10 Over the course of a year, this could cost the average household hundreds of dollars in energy costs.11 Unplugging these appliances when not in use or using an energy-saving power strip are simple yet effective ways to cut off the electrical supply and save money in the process. For a list of potential appliances to unplug, reference this article by the U.S. Department of Energy.
Buy a reusable water bottle
Studies show that less than 20% of all single-use water bottles are recycled in the US.12 Furthermore, drinking bottled water can cost up to 2,000 times more than drinking tap water.13 In order to reduce the amount of bottle waste and save money on your water intake, try one of these safe and reusable water bottles.
It can pay to be green
Earth Day is an annual reminder to stop and think of ways that you can positively impact the environment. No matter how you choose to celebrate, remember that the actions you take today can help save the planet and some money for years to come.
1. ENERGY STAR. “Best Practices - Clothes Washer Tips.” ENERGYSTAR.gov.
https://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=clotheswash.clothes_washers_performance_tips (accessed April 14, 2017).
2. Cold Water Saves. “So, Watt’s the Cold Problem?” ColdWaterSaves.org.http://www.coldwatersaves.org/ (accessed April 18, 2017).
3. Green America. “Fire Your Clothes Dryer.” GreenAmerica.org. http://www.greenamerica.org/livinggreen/dryer.cfm (accessed April 17, 2017).
4. ENERGY.GOV. “Energy Saver 101: Everything You Need to Know About Landscaping.” Energy.gov. https://www.energy.gov/articles/energy-saver-101-infographic-landscaping (accessed April 14, 2017).
5. United States Environmental Protection Agency. “WaterSense Statistics & Facts.” EPA.gov.
https://www3.epa.gov/watersense/about_us/facts.html (accessed April 17, 2017).
7. ENERGY.GOV. “How Energy-Efficient Lightbulbs Compare with Traditional Incandescents.” Energy.gov. https://energy.gov/energysaver/how-energy-efficient-light-bulbs-compare-traditional-incandescents (accessed April 17, 2017).
10. Hyrkas, Erik. “Energy Vampires are Attacking Your Home – Here’s How to Stop Them.” Energy.gov. https://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/energy-vampires-are-attacking-your-home-here-s-how-stop-them (accessed April 17, 2017).
12. The Water Project. “Bottle Water is Wasteful.” TheWaterProject.org.
https://thewaterproject.org/bottled-water/bottled_water_wasteful (accessed April 17, 2017).
13. Newcomer, Laura. “Bottled Water Costs Us 2,000 Times More Than Tap. Is It Worth It?” TheDailyBeast.com. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/09/18/bottled-water-costs-us-2-000-times-more-than-tap-is-it-worth-it.html (accessed April 17, 2017).