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How to Save Money the Green Way

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Trade in those incandescent light bulbs for a few compact fluorescent bulbs; eliminate bottles of water and help the environment.
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I you buy one 16-ounce bottle of water at $1.50 every day for one year, your extra cost is $546.77.

How would you like to shave $500 or more off your bills every year? The average household wastes hundreds of dollars on yearly expenses – money that could go toward paying down debt or accumulating interest in savings. The added bonus to greening up your wallet is that you also can green up the environment in the process. Even those who don’t claim to be environmentalists can do their part to help our planet.

Each year, the average American produces about 40,000 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, the primary contributor to global warming. It only takes small changes individually to collectively contribute huge changes for the environment. For example, if every household replaced the four most used 100-watt incandescent light bulbs with four 23-watt compact fluorescent bulbs, they would save $82 over three years. This would save as much energy as is consumed by 7 million cars in one year. Lighting accounts for almost 20 percent of electricity costs, with the average American home equipped with more than 30 light fixtures.

Replacing just one bulb in every home with a more energy efficient bulb would save $600 million in energy bills and enough energy to light 7 millions homes, according to Environmental Protection Agency administrator Stephen Johnson.

But savings aren’t limited to utilities. A family of four can save $2,000 each year by buying larger size items instead of individual serving sizes or trial sizes. Smaller sizes use more packaging per ounce than larger items. Ten percent of grocery costs is for packaging. Many stores display the cost per ounce on shelf tags; if not, divide the item price by the number of ounces. Items with a long shelf life such as cereals and canned goods can be purchased in larger sizes for less money. There’s an added bonus – no wasting time and gas to run to the store for a single missing item when you’re in a rush to prepare dinner.

Another $1,000 can be saved by buying reusable products instead of disposables, which are bad for your wallet and the environment. Using rechargeable batteries in flashlights, toys and electronics can save $200 yearly. Switching from paper towels and napkins to cloth can save up to $260. Those with babies can make a significant dent in diaper costs by switching from disposable to cloth – a whopping $600 per child each year. Don’t forget to pack the real camera on vacation. Film cameras can save over $144 yearly instead of disposable ones, based on 24 pictures monthly. Better yet, use a digital camera. They save even more in film purchase and developing costs, and eliminate wasteful packaging.

If you have older shower heads, swap them for low-flow heads that can reduce water usage by 50 to 70 percent. These heads are inexpensive, around $20, and will pay for themselves in no time. Got a leak? Fix it! A leak easily wastes 200 gallons each month. In the market for a new washer? Go with a front loader, which uses a third to half the energy and water of a conventional top-loading machine. They also remove more water during the spin cycle, requiring less energy to dry a load. Dry clothes in the dryer for just a few minutes, and then finish outside on a clothesline or drying rack. You’ll save on electricity and increase the lifespan of your clothes.

Improving your car’s gas mileage can help manage the sticker shock at the pump. Keeping your tires properly inflated can improve mileage up to 33 percent and save up to seven cents a gallon on gas. If you have a long commute to work, the pennies add up quickly. Retire the lead foot, avoid jack rabbit starts and stops, and use cruise control. Driving slightly under the speed limit saves gas. At speeds of 65 mph or greater, miles per gallon drops in most vehicles. Each gallon of gas saved eliminates 22 pounds of CO2 emissions. If you save 2,000 miles of driving each year by carpooling or biking, 1,800 pounds of CO2 is saved, and your fuel costs can drop by as much as $400 a year.

One of the fastest and easiest ways to save is to eliminate bottled water. The impact of bottled water on your pocketbook and the environment is huge. If you buy one 16-ounce bottle of water at $1.50 every day for one year, your extra cost is $546.77 over the cost of tap water.

The environmental cost is even greater. It takes 114 extra gallons of water for production and purification, and nine gallons of oil and 68 pounds of CO2 to produce the bottles. A bottled water cost calculator is available at www.NewDream.org/water/calculator.php.

With so many ways to save money and reduce the damage to our environment, you can easily pocket hundreds of dollars each year. It only takes a few changes in your daily habits and little time to make a difference. Green up your wallet, green up the world.

Published on Apr 9, 2009

Grit Magazine

Live The Good Life with GRIT!