I can still hear my parents’ voices echoing in my head…. “Turn out the light when you’re done with it.” Every time I forget to flip the switch when I leave a room, I feel guilty…and I have to run back and shut it off. I’ve since learned that it’s not just good for my budget to shut off the lights, it’s good for the environment, too. So I’ve started a New Year’s quest to implement as many eco-friendly, money saving behaviors that I can without driving my family up the wall.
In addition to turning out the lights, we have installed as many CF’s (compact fluorescents) as we can. The light is still nice, and although they are a little more costly than a traditional bulb, they last much longer and use much less electric, saving money in the long run. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes so you can find them to fit most light fixtures.
In order to keep heating costs down, saving on electric, we have begun installing door sweeps and insulation around the entryways to our home. It really cuts down on the draft and prevents valuable heat from escaping through lots of tiny little cracks. We close the registers in rooms we’re not using, and we’ve begun dropping our heat at night. Since we’re snuggled in under a pile of cozy blankets anyway, we don’t even notice the temperature change.
Something that is little known, but pretty simple to do, is run appliances after nine o’clock at night. It isn’t always possible or convenient, but it does save money to use that amount of electric later in the evening and not during prime time hours. So I try to run the dishwasher, washing machine, and dryer late in the evening after most businesses have closed for the day.
We save money on cooking, too. First, we buy meat in bulk quantities to save money and save on all that packaging that would otherwise just get dumped in a landfill. We cook in bulk, which saves time and electric, and we eat the same meal for a couple days and just use the microwave to reheat it. We have saved a lot of money this way through both grocery shopping and with a lower electric bill.
While we’re on the topic of grocery shopping, those pesky plastic bags are always an issue. You have to have some kind of bags, right? Many stores are offering inexpensive, reusable canvas bags that you can purchase to bring your groceries home in. The only catch is you have to remember to bring them! Of course, you’ll probably end up with some plastic bags anyway, but there are a million uses for them. We use them mainly for kitty litter.
Another great money saving trick that is also good for the environment – use cloth napkins! Plain cotton napkins can be washed right along with your dish towels, and they probably won’t add any extra loads to your laundry list. It saves you from buying loads of paper towels or paper napkins, and its better for the environment.
Want a healthier home? Take off your shoes at the front door! It sounds silly, but you will be healthier if you don’t track in all the dirt, germs, and especially the chemicals that get on your shoes. Bonus: you won’t have to spend as much time and money cleaning your carpets.
Since we’re talking about cleaning, there are two great products for cleaning that are cheap, effective, and chemical free: vinegar and baking soda. They will leave your house smelling fresh without that heavy, chemical smell. Baking soda is great for removing odors in the fridge, in garbage cans, and you can even sprinkle it on the carpet before you vacuum.
You can improve the air quality in your home very simply. Just add some plants (the real kind!). Plants make “breathe in” carbon dioxide, “breathe out” oxygen and filter the air naturally. Any run of the mill houseplant will do!
I’m sure there are hundreds and hundreds of tips around to help you go green. Maybe these few will inspire you to think of many more and hopefully you’ll be able to save lots of green! Have a happy, healthy, wealthy, and eco-friendly new year!