Everyone wants to do something to save the planet, but the fact is that going green can cost money. For example, while the idea of a hybrid car looks good on paper, the fact is that a hybrid SUV for a family of five is often out of reach, budget-wise.
Fortunately, there are some things you can do to go green in your home without breaking the bank. In fact, some of these steps will actually save you money over the long term.
Here are some tips to get you started:
1. Start with your windows. One of the most common ways heat (or cooling) escapes your home is through your windows. There are several ways you can make those windows more energy efficient, saving yourself some money in the process. For example, choosing insulated windows with strong window treatments will dramatically reduce the amount of heat pouring into your home during the summertime.
2. Caulking is an important step, as well. You can also use weatherstripping caulk sealant. This is a temporary sealant that will help close the cracks that occur between your window and the window frame. The benefit to this kind of caulking is that you can peel it away when you don’t need it any longer. This material is relatively inespensive, and it is almost invisible when you apply it correctly. Best of all, it won’t damage your paint or finishing. The key thing to remember, of course, is that a caulked window can’t be opened without breaking the seal and re-applying caulk.
3. Seal leaks in your exterior sheathing. Today’s homes use plywood and OSB, which means that there are fewer opportunities for cracks than there were with board lumber houses. Still, whether you have an older home or a newer home, over time there are cracks that will develop where the pieces meet. Those cracks are places where air can leave or enter your home. Check for cracks in your siding, as well as looking for places in your exterior sheathing where seams have expanded to create cracks.
4. Install a low flow shower head. For less than $30, you can install a low-flow showerhead (sometimes called a “navy shower head”). These showerheads create a high amount of pressure, allowing you to have an effective shower that uses less in the way of water. You can also install faucet aerators on your regular faucets, which will help to keep water pressure up while using less actual water.
5. Get in the unplugging habit. An appliance that isn’t turned on but is plugged in will, over time, still use some power. Consider unplugging appliances when they’re not being used. You can also invest in a smart power strip that will cut the circuit to appliances that aren’t being used.
6. Wash in cold. The bulk of the energy used by your washing machine is used to heat the water. While there will be times when you need to run on a warm or a hot cycle, washing and rinsing on cold will get most clothes clean most of the time, and will save you money over the long run. You can even consider using a clothes line to dry clothes, at least during those temperate times of the year when it makes sense to do so.
7. Go used. When you need something new for your home – whether it’s a blender, a couch, or a new curtain rod, consider a used item instead of a new one. Not only will you be saving money on the cost of the item, you’ll also be helping the planet by using up less space in landfills. While you’ll want to stick with new for certain products (such as energy-saving window blinds) there are a great many household items in which a used product will be just as good as a new one.
8. Use CFL bulbs. Most people have moved on from incandescent light bulbs by now, but for those that haven’t, this is a must. CFLs use as little as 20% of the electricity of incandescent bulbs. And, while the jury is still out on whether they outlast incandescent bulbs enough to justify their cost, the fact of the matter is that the money you save on your electric bill more than makes them worth it.
Just because you want to be a responsible and environmentally-conscientious person doesn’t mean you have to empty your checkbook. Implement some of these energy-saving and money-saving techniques today.
Nick Simpson is Social Media Coordinator at Blindsgalore, a leading provider of blinds and window shades. In addition to their standard product lines, Blindsgalore carries a number of additional lines, including natural elegant wood blinds.