Do you believe that living greener costs too much, and that is the main reason you are held back from adopting a greener lifestyle?
To be sure, many vendors do charge a premium for green products. I have a hard time with the idea that I will pay $50 for an organic fiber t-shirt or $40 for a reusable water bottle. In fact, at my home we try to focus on green lifestyle actions we can take that will actually save us money as we make our lives more sustainable. You can, as well.
There are some actions you can take now that will start saving money immediately. Here are three simple steps anyone can take, and the results will show up in lower utility bills by next month.
1) Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). CFLs use 75% less energy than standard incandescent bulbs and last up to 10 times longer. Each CFL will save you about $30-50 over its lifetime compared to an incandescent bulb. Replace 20 incandescents with CFLs and establish $600-1000 in savings. CFLs also generate less heat than standard incandescent bulbs, which will reduce your cooling costs in the summer. And some CFLs now even work with dimmer switches.
2) Buy switchable power strips for your appliances and electronics. Even when they’re switched off, most home appliances and electronic devices continue drawing a little bit of power to stay in a warmed-up mode. Believe it or not, your television will probably use more power over its lifetime when turned off than when turned on. The reason is the handy-dandy instant-on feature we have grown accustomed to. But the cost of this convenience is that these appliances all draw some power when turned off. This so-called “phantom power” or “vampire energy” accounts for an estimated 10% of residential energy use in the United States. To shut these devices completely off and eliminate the vampire energy drain, plug them into a power strip that can be switched on and off.
3) Buy and install low-flow faucets and showerheads. Replacing all faucet aerators and showerheads with lower-flow versions is another no-brainer. In each case you will be saving about 1 gallon of water per minute. Consider the water savings from low-flow showerheads alone. Assuming about 300 showers per year per shower in your home and assuming you have 3 bathrooms in your house where showering takes place, you can calculate water savings of about 8 gallons per shower assuming an average 8-minute shower time. The total amounts to 7,200 gallons of water saved each year. In addition, you will save further on power by not having to heat all that water. The cost of the faucet aerators and showerheads is only a few bucks apiece, a minimal investment compared to the savings you will generate.
Bonus Tip: Avoid bottled water. Not only is bottled water wasteful (about 80% of these petroleum-derived plastic bottles wind up in landfills), but it is also about 100 times more expensive than tap water. Nor is bottled water generally safer than tap water if you live in the USA or another developed country. The only reason not to drink your tap water directly is that you may dislike the taste. If that is the case, rather than shelling out egregious amounts for bottled water, and adding to the demand for petroleum-derived products in the process, install a home water filter or buy point-of-use filters for your tap or water pitchers. Brita makes a good one.
These three simple green living tips will start saving you money immediately. They cost so little to implement that anyone can take these steps. How about you? And how about now?