How to Actually Save Money By Going Green
Evaluate Your Current Lifestyle for Areas of Improvement
Going green starts with taking an honest look at your current lifestyle habits and identifying areas where you can make more eco-friendly choices. Here are some aspects of daily life to evaluate:
- What is your main mode of transportation – driving, public transit, biking, walking? Could you drive less by carpooling, taking public transit more often, biking or walking for short trips?
- Can you trade a gas guzzler for a fuel efficient or hybrid vehicle? Upgrading your vehicle is a big investment but can generate major gas savings over time.
- Do you maintain your car properly through regular tune ups and tire pressure checks? Proper maintenance maximizes fuel economy.
- Do you fly frequently? Can any trips be replaced with train travel?
Home Energy Use
- Do you utilize energy efficient appliances and light bulbs? Replacing outdated models can reduce electric bills.
- Do you unplug devices when not in use? Phantom energy drains add up.
- Is your home well insulated? Adding insulation and sealing drafts will help regulate interior temperatures.
- Do you adjust the thermostat seasonally, keep it lower in winter and higher in summer? Strategic temperature regulation saves energy.
- Are there renewable energy options available where you live? Solar panels or wind power could slash utility costs over time.
- Do you eat a lot of meat and dairy? Shifting towards plant-based foods reduces your carbon footprint.
- Do you buy local, seasonal produce? Supporting nearby farms cuts transportation emissions.
- Do you limit food waste by planning meals and creatively using leftovers? Reduced waste saves money.
- Do you buy items with minimal packaging? Plastic wrapping and containers are environmentally taxing.
- Do you utilize reusable bags and containers? Say no to disposable plastic bags and water bottles.
- Do you buy quality items built to last? Durable goods generate less waste than cheaply made versions.
- Do you buy secondhand when possible? Extending an item’s lifespan keeps it out of landfills longer.
- Are you mindful of how much you purchase and consume? A decluttered life saves money and space.
Make Specific Changes to Reap Ongoing Savings
Once you’ve identified areas for improvement, it’s time to implement impactful changes that will generate real financial and environmental savings over months and years.
- Trade an SUV or truck for a fuel efficient sedan to cut gas costs dramatically. Over 10-15 years the gas savings could offset the purchase price.
- If buying a new car is not feasible, make sure your current vehicle receives regular maintenance for maximum fuel economy. Proper tire inflation and air filters can improve MPG by 3-4%.
- Commit to utilizing public transit or carpooling twice a week to halve transportation emissions. Many employers even offer commuter benefits for using alternate transit.
- For short trips of 1-2 miles, actively utilize walking or biking. You’ll save gas money while benefiting your health through exercise.
- Research rebates and incentives in your area to make energy efficient upgrades affordable. Utility companies often provide rebates for purchasing Energy Star appliances, HVAC systems, or enrolling in renewable energy programs. Federal tax credits may also apply.
- Install a programmable thermostat to automatically regulate home temperatures and reduce heating and cooling usage by 10-15%. New smart thermostats make it easy to program and control temperatures remotely via your smartphone.
- Replace all incandescent bulbs with LEDs which use at least 75% less energy and last years longer. The replacement cost is recouped in electricity savings.
- Improve insulation in the attic, walls, basement, and crawl spaces. Adding insulation to attics and walls can shave up to 15% off heating and cooling bills.
- Invest in new Energy Star windows to limit heat and cooling loss. High efficiency triple pane windows provide excellent insulation.
Consumption and Waste Reduction
- Commit to a weekly meatless day to reduce your carbon foodprint while potentially improving health and saving money.
- Bring reusable shopping bags, food containers and bottles with you instead of accepting disposable plastics.
- Compost food scraps to reduce waste – 30% of household garbage is compostable material. Many urban areas now offer curbside compost pickup services.
- Stop junk mail and paper statements by opting for paperless billing and subscriptions when possible.
- Host clothing swaps with friends or shop thrift and consignment stores to refresh your wardrobe sustainably.
Choose Renewable Energy When Possible
An impactful way to green your lifestyle is to shift your home and transportation energy usage to renewable sources like solar, wind and geothermal.
- Research residential renewable energy options in your area. Many homeowners now install rooftop solar panels to reduce or even eliminate electric bills. Solar can be financed through affordable monthly payments.
- If installing solar panels is not feasible, sign up for a 100% renewable energy plan through your utility provider. Most electric companies now offer green energy options at an affordable premium.
- When buying an electric vehicle, charge it using renewable energy generated at home to fully eliminate your transportation carbon footprint.
- If your region has a competitive electric market, shop for the most affordable green energy supplier. Retail electric providers now offer 100% renewable plan options in many areas. Some green plans are even cheaper than conventional rates.
Embrace an Eco-Conscious Lifestyle
To fully realize the financial benefits of going green, adopt environmental sustainability as an ongoing lifestyle. Small daily actions add up to real change.
- Meal plan based on what local produce is in season to reduce food waste and transportation miles. Discover new meatless recipes to vary your plant-based meals.
- Maintain a reasonably cool home in summer and warm home in winter. Get cozy with sweaters in winter and utilize fans more in summer to regulate temperatures naturally.
- Drive mindfully – stick to speed limits, avoid quick accelerations and tailgating to maximize MPG. Combine multiple errands into one trip to limit driving time.
- Buy less stuff, especially single use items and disposable goods. Rely more on public libraries, clothing swaps, secondhand goods.
- Compost all food scraps to complete the food cycle and reduce waste sent to landfills.
- Grow your own food through home vegetable gardening and herbs. Learn canning and preserving techniques to store your harvest.
Making eco-conscious choices across all aspects of life soon becomes second nature. A green lifestyle provides continuing financial dividends and environmental benefits for many years to come.