In 1969, when the famous amphibious crooner Kermit the Frog first sang “It’s not easy being green”, little did he know that someday it would be! Today, we can live green and save some bucks in the process. While we can still turn off the lights when we leave a room and run our appliances after peak hours, there are so many more things that we can do to save money around the house and be good to the environment at the same time!
Some of the easiest and least expensive things to do are:
1. Replace incandescent light bulbs with energy efficient compact fluorescent bulbs. While they may be a few dollars more to purchase than the old bulbs, they will last 10 times longer and can save you $30 or more over the life of the bulb. Do that in the whole house and that’s pretty significant. And, if you turn them off when you aren’t in the room…..more bang for your buck! If you have family members who forget to turn off the lights, get sensors that turn on lights when you enter the room and will turn them off automatically after a period of time when no one is in the room. Easy!
2. Unplug appliances when not in use. Did you know that even if appliances are off, they can still drag energy? Your TV, DVD player, Video Game player, radios, coffee maker, even your computer and printer in hibernate mode, all use energy even when you aren’t using them. Just by unplugging them, you can save about 20% of the energy they consume which can translate into $50-$200/year in savings. Easy and free!
3. Caulk the cracks. For just a few dollars in tubes of caulking, you can seal out the cold air in the winter so you aren’t heating the whole neighborhood. And in the summer, your air conditioning says in the house. Same goes for weather stripping around the doors and windows. Cheap and easy and you’ll save a ton on your heating and cooling bills.
Some higher ticket items that you can do:
1. Buy Energy Star rated appliances. That old clunker refrigerator in the garage may be convenient but boy does it eat up the electricity. Upgrading it to a more efficient one can save you $100 per year or more. Same goes for that clothes washer. Energy Star rated washers use half the energy that the older models do. Chalk up another $110 per year in savings on that one. And you can take them with you if you move so the savings keep on going! Be sure to ask the appliance store about recycling your old appliances!
2. Windows….expensive to do, so only do if you plan to be in your home for many years. The average sized home will cost around $20,000 to replace every window. But, if you have single pane windows, you could be losing more than 25% of your heating and air conditioning through the windows. If you can’t afford to do all the windows, consider just the ones on the West or South facing side of the house since these get the most sun. Just insulating the house from that can save a ton on the energy bill. And, if even that is a budget buster, think about heavy curtains or insulated blinds, window tinting, and awnings to keep the sun out in the summer and heat in during the winter.
3. Insulate! Insulation is rated by “R-Value”. The higher the R-Value, the better it insulates. Keep your heat and air conditioning from escaping with high rated insulation in the walls, attic, and crawl spaces. And don’t forget to wrap the water heater and hot water pipes if you can get to them. There are natural soy-based spray-in foams you can use that give excellent coverage and are environmentally friendly – no CFC’s or formaldehyde.
So, it IS easy being green! For just a little effort, you can save big bucks at home and be kind to the environment at the same time. What could be better?!