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Energy efficiency, being green, and the climate crisis are all hot topics today. But what people don't realize is that you don't have to be a total hippie and live in a tent in order to reduce your energy usage and carbon footprint. What's more, if you adopt some of these simple ways of saving energy and resources, you'll also save money. Try out these 8 easy ways you can live a little greener and save some cash while you're at it:
1. Water plants and grass with leftover water.
Nobody wants their yard to be brown and dead, but you don’t want to waste too much of a valuable resource to water the plants, either. The best way to save water (and lots of money on your water bill) is to try recycling water. Boiled some pasta? Save the leftover pasta water for the plants. Took a shower? Keep a small trash can or bucket in the shower to gather water, and use the leftover shower water to water the lawn. Some friends of mine do this and it does no harm to the plants.
2. Use energy efficient light bulbs.
Next time your light bulb burns out, don’t just go buy the same brand you’ve been using for years. This time, make sure you grab an energy efficient lightbulb. In fact while you’re at it, replacing all your lightbulbs with energy efficient ones isn’t a bad idea! Energy efficient light bulbs are an easy way to save money on your electrical bill.
3. Buy essentials from green companies.
There are some things you’re probably going to buy no matter what. Things like home essentials, clothes, shoes, etc. The best way to be green when purchasing necessities is to try to buy from green companies. Look for recycled or post-consumer materials in your purchases. For instance, if you need more personal checks, buy from a company like Check Gallery that uses recycled materials and natural inks to make their products. When buying home appliances, look for the Energy Star label, which means that your appliance will conserve energy. In the end, saving energy will mean saving money.
4. Keep your fridge away from heat.
Your fridge uses energy to cool off the air inside it. That’s unavoidable. But what you can avoid is that your fridge uses more energy than necessary. If you keep your fridge too close to the stove, or in a location that gets direct sunlight, it will have to work harder and use more energy in order to keep your food cool. To avoid this, make sure that your fridge doesn’t get direct sunlight, and is at a good distance from your stove. Keeping your fridge cooler can save you up to $70 per year.
5. Unplug devices when you’re not using them.
Did you know that devices can use energy even if they’re off? Your TV, cell phone charger, or video game console, and power strip all will use energy if you keep them plugged in, even when they’re off – in fact, according to OurEarth.org, 25% of the energy used in the average household is used by devices while they’re turned off. This is an easy fix, though – just unplug your devices when you’re not using them. This will not only be kind to the planet by saving energy, but it will also result in a lower electrical bill for you.
6. Buy local.
Ever wonder why you can buy mangos in the dead of winter at the grocery store? It’s because those mangos have traveled thousands of miles (from somewhere warm) to reach you. That means thousands of miles of emissions and energy use. You can make your kitchen a little greener by trying to buy only local produce. Your local produce will not only be fresher, it will also come with less of a carbon footprint. Try shopping at your local farmer’s market or food co-op, or just look for produce that is labeled as “locally grown.”
7. Do full loads.
Americans waste thousands of gallons of water each year washing half loads of laundry and dishes. Your dishwasher will use the same amount of water whether you fill it to the brim, or wash a single fork. You can save water (and your money) by making sure that each time you wash a load of laundry or dishes, you wash a full load. And did you know that most of the energy that your washer uses goes toward heating the water? You can cut down on energy usage (and electric bills) by washing clothes in cold or warm water instead of hot.
8. Hang dry.
Whenever the weather permits, you can really green up your laundry routine and save lots on energy costs by ditching the dryer and hanging your clothes outside to dry instead. On a hot day, the sun might even dry them faster than the dryer would! String up a clothesline in your yard, grab some clothespins, and you’re all set. If you live in an apartment, you can use your balcony. Sunshine is free!
Bonus: Get pet goats.
We’ve already talked about how to water your lawn while being green and saving money, but what about cutting it? The best solution is to copy Google and get some pet goats, nature’s lawn mowers! If getting goats doesn’t appeal to you, try getting an electric or rechargeable lawn mower.