Though Earth Day is a few weeks away, the start of spring is a great time to evaluate your daily habits and determine opportunities to reduce, reuse and recycle. In addition to a greener, cleaner lifestyle, this analysis also results in financial savings. Careful examination forces you to consider simpler, more resourceful approaches to everyday tasks.
If you’d like to make some changes, but aren’t sure where to start, it’s important to remember even small steps make a big difference. Here are five easy ways to become more environmentally friendly and save a little green in the process.
1. Improve your thermostat’s IQ.
Experts agree 2013 could be another record year for drought, which means air conditioning units will be running on overdrive. To combat this energy drain, invest in a programmable thermostat. There’s no need to cool your home while you’re at work or away on vacation, and these devices make it easy to keep your space comfortable when you’re there. You can buy a programmable thermostat for as little as $30 on Amazon, or you can go high-tech with the Nest Learning Thermostat. Opt for the first generation device since it costs $70 less and the differences between it and the upgrade are mostly aesthetic. [Also see: Stay Cool But Pay Less]
2. Print less.
Receiving information digitally is becoming the norm these days, as evidenced by cheap personal printer prices. Of course, it’s not the actual printer that causes sticker shock, but the replacement ink cartridges. Printing less is an obvious solution to reducing waste and spending less on ink, however it’s not always an option. Shopping online for ink saves money and time. Additionally, you can recycle your ink cartridges at Staples and earn $2 per cartridge (up to $20 per month) for use toward other supplies.
3. Learn to strip.
Did I get your attention? If I offended you, worry not because I am only referring to power strips here! The multitude of gadgets that fill our homes are energy vampires. Small appliances and electronics continue to suck electricity even when shut off, making this passive use of our hard-earned dollars especially frightening. Unplugging these devices after each use gets cumbersome — particularly with big culprits like TVs, computers and cable boxes — so a power strip is the easiest way to shut everything down without taking too much time.
4. Start swapping.
Instead of buying something when you need an upgrade, consider swapping it. Get with neighbors, coworkers, friends, family and fellow parents at your kid’s school to set up swaps for clothes, books, DVDs, sporting equipment, home goods and electronics. You’ll discover a whole new world of getting stuff for free while clearing out your useless clutter. You can also check out online communities for swapping including Swap.com and Bookmooch.
Twenty-seven percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Even if you don’t carpool or use public transportation every day, doing so as often as possible will make a difference on your carbon footprint and your pocketbook. To get started, ask around your office to see if anyone else is looking to carpool. If you strike out there, use Zimride to see if anyone in your social media network is interested in sharing rides.
6. Cool down wisely.
More on Savings
Though parts of the Midwest and East coast are currently experiencing chillier than usual temperatures, hot summer days are not too far for others. If you live in a big home or simply have more space than you need, running your air conditioner 24/7 will drive energy consumption and your bill threw the roof! On days you can’t do with out it, set the thermostat just one degree higher to trim your bill by five percent. Close shades on very sunny days to keep your space from overheating and use a fan to keep the room cool. For instance, the Dyson Hot + Cool bladeless fan heater can lower energy use and bills by 20 percent. [Also See: Small Homes vs. Large Homes: We Compare The Costs]
Andrea Woroch is a consumer and money-saving expert for Kinoli Inc. As a nationally recognized media source, Andrea has been featured on Good Morning America, NBC Today Show, MSNBC, New York Times Bucks Blog, Kiplinger Personal Finance, CNNMoney and many more. To view recent interviews or for more savings tips visit AndreaWoroch.com