3 Simple Ways to Get Greener and Save a Few Thousand Bucks

1. Conserve energy around the house. Reduce your annual energy bill by at least $1,000.

Set your thermostat a couple of degrees lower in the winter and and 5 degrees higher in the summer. This tactic saves as much as 10% on your electricity and gas costs. Over a year’s time, that’s $200-$500 if you live in the Midwest, more in the Northeast or Northwest.

Install compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) when your older incandescent bulbs burn out. Saves $20-50 in electricity cost over the life of a typical CFL bulb. If your home has an average of 3 bulbs per room, that’s 25 – 50 bulbs, or anywhere from $450 to as much as $2500 in savings. LED bulbs are coming, and when the cost is reasonable, the savings will be even more dramatic.

Use smart power strips that sense when TVs, DVD and CD players, computers, and chargers are off or on standby. This can cut phantom (vampire) electrical drain and will save 25 to 40% of your electricity cost annually. If your electricity bill averages $200 a month, that’s a potential savings of $50.00 to $80.00 a month, or $600 to almost $1,000 a year.

Wash clothes in cold water. About 85 percent of the energy used to machine-wash clothes goes to heating the water. Think in terms of about $.35 per wash, times 10 loads a week, or about $175 a year.

2. Cut down on water usage. Save another $250 or more.

Take shorter showers to lower your water and energy costs. Less dry skin, too. Install a low-flow showerhead; the savings can quickly pay back your investment in a matter of weeks.

Install faucet aerators. These cheap components mix air with the water, resulting in a higher-velocity faucet stream composed of less water. This conserves heat and water. The payback comes in the form of lower water usage, as much as 5-15% depending on usage patterns.

Install drought-tolerant landscaping plants. Spot-water your lawn instead of blanket-watering, particularly if you have a sprinkler system. You can save as much as $250 to $1000 a year, depending on the cost of water in your area.

3. Burn less oil. Save at least $1,400.

At today’s fuel cost of about $4.00 a gallon, If you drive about 300 miles a week, the annual fuel cost to commute in a 17 mile per gallon SUV is about $3,529 a year, or $294 a month. Switching to a car that averages 29 miles per gallon saves you about $1,460. That’s more than $120 a month. Assuming gas prices stay constant (!??), you will save more than $7,000 if you keep your fuel-efficient car for 5 years.

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