Helping save the planet by “going green” can put cash in your pocket in the form of lower water, electricity and gas bills. No, you don’t need to spend big bucks on solar panels. You can also help the planet and save money by properly maintaining your car (hint: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure).
As our environment continues to change and people continue educating themselves about what going green can do to help our future, we offer up some everyday hacks for reducing your home and auto expenses. Not only will you cut monthly expenses, but, with all that extra cash, it will help you save big bucks over the course of the next few decades.
Conserving In The House
The best way to help the planet and save money at the same time is to use less water, gas and electricity. While washing clothes, use cold water (unless otherwise specifically stated). Make sure you re-set the water level based on each load you do. It only takes a second. Try turning off the heated drying setting on your dishwasher and check the results. If you don’t mind a few spots, you’ll save lots of energy over the years. The lower your water heater thermostat, the less energy you use to heat the water. Check the temperature on your water heater and lower it one degree each week until you get to a temperature that gives you the hot water you want without having to cool it with the cold faucet.
Clean the lint filter in your clothes dryer at least every other time. Check the outside dryer vent several times each year (it also fills with lint). Linty filters and vents make your dryer work harder. Don’t shave or brush your teeth in the shower and don’t let the water keep running as you shave or brush your teeth in the sink. That can waste tens of thousands of gallons of water during your lifetime.
How Else Can I Go Green?
Passive solar heat is a method of using the sunlight to warm rooms in your house. During the day, open curtains to let the sun brighten and warm your rooms. You’ll need to make sure you don’t have drafty windows or patio doors. In the evening, close curtains to keep cold air out. Investing in heavier curtains helps keep your house warmer and your heating needs lower at night.
If you can’t afford new windows, consider an inexpensive window sealing kit from your local hardware store or Big Box home department. You get sturdy plastic wrap and two-sided tape to affix to the inside or outside of a window, which you then tighten with a hand-held hair dryer.
Don’t water your lawn more than once or twice a week, and water it deeply when you do. Watering your lawn three to four times per week to only half an inch wastes water and doesn’t encourage deep roots. To get deep, strong grass roots, water to a depth of at least one inch. Put out an empty tuna can when you water and when it collects one inch of water, your ground should be watered to one inch. You can also check your ground with a screwdriver or other tool to see how long it takes to get your ground saturated to a depth of one inch. Also, remember to place mulch around flowers and shrubs to help retain water near the roots.
Look, if millennials can make farming tech cool again, you can do little things in your daily life to help impact the earth in a positive way as well.
Green Appliances And Electronics
As you buy new or replacement appliances and electronic devices for your apartment or home, look for energy efficient choices. Some of these include the following.
- LED light bulbs
- ENERGY STAR kitchen appliances, doors and windows
- Smart power strips for TV, stereo and gaming setups
- Energy efficient water heater
- Low-flow toilets and showerheads
- Solar outdoor walkway lamps
- Timed watering systems (that recognize when it’s raining)
- Electric vs. gas-powered yard tools
Some utilities offer free or low-cost replacement water heaters if you’re switching from electric to gas. Many cities and towns offer rebates on low-flow toilets, too. With a rebate and water bill savings, you can pay off a low-flow toilet in three years, then start banking your savings.
Did you know that if you slightly over-inflate your tires, you’ll get better gas mileage? Don’t do it though — you’ll wear out your tires faster and cause other problems. If over-inflating your tires gives you better mileage, that means that under-inflated tires will reduce your miles per gallon, create more carbon emissions and cost you more in fill-ups. Make sure you check your tire pressure at least once each month, especially if you live in an area with four seasons. Temperature changes can affect your tire pressure.
Invest in a hand-held tire pressure gauge and keep your recommended tire pressure handy (it’s often found on the tires or the driver’s side door jamb). Check your tires when they’re cold (not immediately after you’ve driven on them). It only takes a few minutes to check tire pressure, and you might find that you only need to check your tires every other month, depending on what you find after checking the first few months.
The dirtier your air filter, the harder your engine has to work, thus the lower your gas mileage. You’ll also want to change your oil as recommended by your owner’s manual. New cars don’t need the oil changed every 3,000 miles like older cars. If you’re using synthetic oil, you might need to change every 6,000 to 7,500 miles. Changing your air filter and oil not only helps the environment, it can prevent serious engine problems and repair expenses.
What About Solar Panels?
Believe it or not, solar panels are getting less expensive each year thanks to improved technology and increased consumer demand. Don’t just consider the upfront outlay when you try to figure out if you can afford adding solar to your home. Your city or state might offer a tax credit or rebate if you add solar panels to your home. Your monthly electricity bill will also go down each month.
If your solar panels generate more power than you use, you can sell your excess energy to your utility company. Don’t forget to calculate the increase in your home’s value. The day after you install solar to your home, your house value will increase by tens of thousands of dollars.
You won’t save money recycling, but it’s one more way you can easily help protect the earth by going green and become more sustainable. You might be surprised by how much waste you create soon after you add a recycling bin to your home, and you’ll start looking at ways to cut back.
Lead image via Getty