Eco-friendly living can do more than help the planet — it can also save you money. In fact, you might be surprised at how small changes to your lifestyle can make a big impact.
How small? A sink aerator is about the size of a quarter and can help reduce water flow by up to 30% or more per sink.1 Here are a few more ways to save both kinds of green:
Buy used or borrow
Buying items new can be costly and contribute to the consumption of resources. For lower prices, and a lower carbon footprint, purchase gently used items such as clothing, shoes or even jewelry from secondhand stores. Furniture such as chairs, tables, desks and mirrors can also be found in thrift stores at reduced prices. If you need equipment such as carpet cleaners or power tools for short-term use, try to rent them from a local hardware store or borrow them from a friend.
Adjust water usage
Reducing the amount of water you use each day is a great way to save energy and lower the cost of heating and water bills. In the bathroom, use a low-flow shower head and shorten the time it takes to clean up. When brushing your teeth, leave the water turned off until ready to rinse. In the kitchen, use a dishwasher instead of washing by hand and always wash a full load. And when washing clothes, use the correct water level for the load size and cold water if possible. Most clothes can be effectively washed using cold water, with the exception of items such as bed sheets and towels.
Fix water leaks around the house
In the average home, minor leaks can add up to 90 gallons of water lost each day. To see if you have a leak, stop using water for two hours and watch your water meter. If the meter doesn’t move, you should be ok. If the meter does change, it’s likely you have a leak somewhere. Common areas to check for leaks include toilets, shower heads, faucets and irrigation systems. If you don’t know how to fix it, call a professional to make sure the leak is sealed.
Hang clothes to dry
Some clothes dryers use a lot of energy to do their job. However, a nice breeze and the heat of the sun can dry most items for free. Hanging clothes also extends the life of one's clothing because it’s much gentler than a dryer. If you live where you can’t hang clothes outside all year, hang your clothesline in a laundry room or another room with enough space. If you’re tight on space, a drying rack could work as well. Drying clothes indoors with no heat may take longer, but they’ll be just as fresh (and cost-effective) once they do.
Choose Energy Star-certified appliances
When buying appliances, look for the blue Energy Star label. The Energy Star program is a voluntary program that is designed to save energy to protect the environment and consequently saves consumers money. Items that receive the Energy Star certification must meet certain standards of performance and energy-efficiency. Use energy-efficient lightbulbs
There are several different types of energy-efficient light bulbs available. Switch out standard incandescent light bulbs for Energy Star-certified bulbs. These bulbs last at least 15 times longer, use between 70 to 90 percent less energy and can save up to $80 over the lifetime of the bulb.2 Energy-efficient light options include light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs).
Helpful links for going green
For more information, check out these additional sources:
- 12 Ways to Save Money by Going Green
- Ten Ways to Save Money by Going Green: Conserve Water
- Saving Money by Going Green: 19 Tips That Can Save Hundreds
- Fifteen Ways Going Green Can Save You Money (video)
- Eight Ways Your Company Can Save Your Money by Going Green
- Tips on Saving Money and Energy at Home
- Seven Ways Going Green Can Save You Lots of Money
- Living Green: Money-Saving Tips
- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
- Ten Ways to Save Money by Going Green
- Ten Easy Ways to Go Green
- Heating and Cooling Your Home for Less
Saving some green
Living eco-friendly is responsible for many reasons. By choosing a greener lifestyle, the results could be friendlier to the environment and your wallet.
1. EPA.gov. “Bathroom faucets.” EPA.gov. https://www.epa.gov/watersense/bathroom-faucets (accessed November 5, 2018).
2. Energystar.gov. “Light Bulbs.” Energystar.gov. https://www.energystar.gov/products/lightingfans/lightbulbs (accessed November 2, 2018).
*This article has been updated from its original posting on November 3, 2016. Stephanie Lo contributed to this article.