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The Guide to Saving Money by Going Green

How to Save Money Going Green

Everyone has their own reason for embracing “sustainable living.” It’s a noble cause to know that you are protecting the planets natural resources by reducing, reusing and recycling. 

But, did you know that going green also comes with personal benefits as well?  You can not only impact your health and well-being, but you can also save money!

Now, I know that goes against the normal preconceived notions that many have, but there is more to going green than meets the eye.  I understand part of the problem is having a busy schedule, believe me, I can relate!! But going green really doesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming and if you take a few minutes to read on I can show you how you can better your life and save money in the process! I mean what if you really could save money, wouldn’t you want to know some tips on how to have a little more money at the end of the month?

Here are five things that literally anyone can do to start saving money while going green.  And you don’t have to change your entire life because of it!

  1. Replace your appliances and save big!

Your big appliances like washing machines, dryers, refrigerators and entertainment consoles are not only expensive, but they are also bulky and wreak havoc on the environment when they are disposed of.  

So keeping them around longer by having them repaired is one way to keep them out of the landfills but the only problem with that is they are costing you much more over the long haul in energy consumption.  So while trying to keep them longer may seem smart at first, long term it will actually cost you more. 

The deception happens because you only see a small monthly bill with your utility and so it doesn’t hit your pocketbook all at once.  But if you analyze the numbers over the course of years you can see how this works.  Let me give you an example.

If you have an older refrigerator from say the 90’s, that unit will most likely be costing you at least $120 a year just to run.  Now consider the cost of repairs to keep it longer that just adds to the balance.  Today’s energy efficient refrigerators cost well under $20 a year to run!! If you do the math it just doesn’t make sense to keep that old refrigerator.  Now you may be saying Ron, that’s not much money and you are right, but what about all of your other appliances?  If your washer and dryer and your dishwasher are also old you will be losing another $200 to $600 a year depending on how many loads you are doing.  Add all that up and you can see that your cost of electricity to run all those old appliances is gouging your pocket book every month.  It reminds me of the ago old saying “How do you eat an elephant? One bit at a time!” Only here we are talking about your finances. 

Here is more food for thought with your appliances.  Newer appliances that are energy efficient put less load on our energy grid which also save the environment.   If we use less, then our energy grid has to product less. Of course now we have solar and wind energy to help with that old dirty energy grid, but that’s a topic for another day.

You water heater is another appliance that many people forget about.  Check with your contractor when it’s time to upgrade about different ways to save energy and remember to consider the higher priced ones that are energy efficient.  The cost of savings on energy could offset that initial cost. 

  1. Make smart food choices

 Walk into any grocery store today and you can see a large section of organic food in almost every area.  Those aren’t just a ploy to get you to spend more money.  There are very rigid laws in place to ensure organic and non GMO foods are being grown with the environment in mind. This mean fewer pesticides, less water and better natural fertilizers, all which have a large environmental impact, not to mention the toll on your health. 

Ultimately though we all know organic food is more expensive and that’s because it takes the farmer more money to ensure they are following all the laws and getting all the inspections.  So how do you make that food work in your budget? 

Well you can start by supporting your local farmers who will give you a steep discount buying directly from them. If you can’t get to them, many areas have farmers markets that are still far below the retail cost of food.  There are also community supported agricultural programs that deliver farm fresh food directly to your door so if you are in an area that has the CSA programs just go to their website. 

Lastly, although it takes a little effort, shop in season.  Learn what foods are grown in each season and focus on those during that time. It’s nice to have avocado all year long but how does it effect your pocket book?

Another tip for saving money with your food whether it’s organic or not, is to freeze your food before it goes bad and use it for another time.  Most food can be frozen and up to 40% of food waste comes from throwing out food due to over stocking. 

  1. Skip single-use products

Ok this is a big one! We live in a society today of overabundance.  In that type of culture there is a tendency to waste and that is so true of all of our single use items.  The problem is, this is one of the biggest impacts on our environment and in our pocketbook.

 

You only have to go down any water aisle in any grocery store or convenience store and you will see an entire row of nothing but bottled water. Did you know that bottle water costs 2,000 times as much as plain water?  It’s staggering how much money we through down the drain with bottled water, yet we complain when we are overcharged on a bill by $2!

Consider single serving cups at doctors offices, dental offices and other public places.  One little cup for a single “sip” and then it’s off to the ocean to cause more pollution.

The solution? Replace your single serve habits with a stainless steel, ceramic or bamboo bottle.  By making this one simple move, you will be eliminating a significant source of pollution from your life.  And if you are filling up your bottles with clean water from a reliable filter source, you will be saving yourself hundreds if not thousands of dollars a year.  

But what about things like:

  • Paper towels – instead of the paper, which is always wrapped in plastic, use organic cotton or bamboo cloths.
  • Facial wipes – organic materials like cotton and bamboo are used to make this really cool thing called a washcloth. And guess what! It cleans your face just as good if not better!
  • Paper napkins – again, choose the cloth options.
  • Coffee cups – choose a stylish coffee bottle or cup made from stainless steel, bamboo or ceramic and bring it to the coffee shop next time. Some places will even give you a discount!

Making these small adjustments will add up to big results in your cash flow as well as help you do your part to live a sustainable life. 

  1. Save water and save money

Another big on that only requires subtle changes to our everyday lives is monitoring our water usage.

Just take a look at any National Geographic show these days and you will see massive differences in our global water supply.  While one area is flooded and with polluted water that we can’t even drink, another area is parched and dry with no water at all.  These stark difference really have changed our perception of water.

One quick way to cut water costs that I learned living in Africa as a missionary kid, is to route your rain water into barrels. You can then later use that water to nourish your plants in your garden, wash the dog or wash your car.  You can collect this by rerouting your gutters for maximum collection or set out a few containers to capture the rain.   

You’ve heard by now that waiting to do a full load in your clothes washer or dish washer is the best choice.  Not only do you save water, but the energy costs here will be impacted as well. It take the same amount of energy to run a small load as it does a large load.

Here are a few other tips to cut back on your water usage:

  • Turn off the water while brushing your teeth. Most faucets today dump up to a gallon a minute!

  • Same thing with washing your hands. You can lather up then turn off the water, scrub then turn it back on and rinse.
  • Take more showers if you like taking a bath. A bath on average uses over 36 gallons of water and a shower will use half of that.

  • Washing dishes by hand is a tradition in our home and saves on average 27 gallons of water per load. Just be careful not to leave the water running while you wash – fill up the sink and use the water in the sink.

Finally, installing water saving shower heads and faucet heads can save you water and are easy to install yourself. 

  1. Reduce your energy bill

You’ve seen me talk about energy a few times in this article and that is our last and probably most important topic of saving money by going green.

Generating energy has always been hard on the environment as we can see evidenced by the worlds massive hydroplants and coal mines. Most of our energy plants are based on 100 year old technology which makes it inefficient and expensive and who gets to pay for this expense? You and I!

So how can you save money on your energy bill? Now energy in many cases is electric energy but we can forget about gas as well.

We talked a little about your water heater and that is a great place to start since that runs when you shower, do laundry and wash dishes – three activities most of us do every day.  You can save serious money if you switch to a tankless water heater.  I won’t get into details in this article but you can check with your local contractor who specializes in water heaters and they can give you all the statistics.   

Of course running cold water to wash clothes.  Most of the time they don’t need hot water anyways. 

Hanging your clothes when the whether is nice and warm is another great way to save energy. The sunshine is free! Hanging clothes in the sun also helps remove bacteria and gives your clothes a fresh clean smell, eliminating the need for dryer sheets, saving you even more money.

Speaking of dryer sheets, you don’t need to use the standard chemical laden dryer sheets, you can use wool dryer balls which have a one time cost and you can use them over and over again saving you even more money.  You can add essential oils to the wool balls to make your clothes smell amazing!

If your home is in an area prime for solar, you can also choose to have solar installed and have your very own energy plant on your roof.  This is a massively growing industry so as with all emerging industries there are those who will take advantage of those who are not knowledgeable.  Do your research and find the right company who has a reputation for taking care of their customers.  In my experience, the big companies are the worst when it comes to customer service so I recommend going with local contractors who have a vested interest in their community.

We installed solar and that has saved us about $175 per month.

Of course LED light bulbs are a great way to save a little energy, but don’t get too caught up with the money you save because the energy from lights is not that great in most cases.  But this is still an easy way to save a little energy and with the life of LED bulbs will save you some money over the long term. 

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!

Don’t be overwhelmed with all the options, you can’t be expected to make all these changes at once! Start with one thing, perfect that and make it work for you.  Everyone is different so what worked for me may not work for you.  Track your progress and see your savings over time so you are more motivated to keep going. Before you know it, you will be doing all of those things and really making a dent in your pocket book as well as doing what’s right for the planet.

I kept track of the changes I made when I first started and here are the results from one month, as an example for you:

  • Upgrading my old appliances: $22
  • Small garden in my back yard that produced tomatoes, cucumbers, herbs and peppers that I didn’t have to buy at the grocery store: $35
  • Paper towels: $18
  • Showers instead of baths (my wife): $8
  • Cold washing: $5
  • Going solar: $175
  • Saving rain water: $6
  • Choosing in season veggies and fruits: $16

That month I save a total of $285! Some months it’s more and some less but you can see by stacking the habits you can really make a big difference.  They say that most bankruptcies could have been prevented if they had had an extra $200 a month income to pay them off.  Either way, $285 is a lot of money to be just throwing away. 

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