Green Family & Home

Go Green While Saving Green (Part I): Energy Saving Tips

Decreasing energy consumption is not only environmentally friendly, it’s absolutely necessary during troubled economic times like these. Sustainable living is the new trend, and for good reason. By reducing your carbon footprint and reducing how much energy you consume, you will also be saving money as an added bonus. Here are some tips that anyone can use to save energy at home:

Change your light bulbs: Never buy another incandescent bulb again. Compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) last longer and require much less electricity to illuminate your home. When your older bulbs burn out, replace them with CFLs for almost instant savings.

Unplug appliances: Keep appliances unplugged when they aren’t in use. Or consider investing in an energy efficient “smart” power strip. These power strips detect when appliances aren’t being used and reduce unnecessary energy expenditure.

Use cold water: When washing your clothes, use the cold water setting as much as possible. Most of the energy expended during a washing machine cycle goes toward heating the water.

Dry clothes naturally: Whenever possible, forego machine drying your clothes by using a clothesline or drying rack. If you have to use the dryer, there are dryer balls available that contribute to shorter drying time.

Adjust the thermostat: Just raising the thermostat a few degrees in summer months and lowering it in winter months can save you money on your heating and cooling energy bills. If your home is empty for long periods during the day, consider getting a programmable thermostat that can be set to come on shortly before someone is scheduled to arrive home. That way you will never be paying to heat or cool a room that no one is using.

Take shorter showers: Just by reducing your daily shower by a few minutes, you can reduce your water usage enough to see a difference in your water and energy bills.

Change your showerhead to low-flow: Low-flow showerheads are relatively inexpensive, and the money saved on water and energy bills will pay for the expense within a short amount of time.

Install faucet aerators: If you install an aerator on every facet in your home, you will conserve water and heat while maintaining high water pressure. Again, it is an inexpensive purchase that will pay for itself in energy bill savings quickly.

Plan your garden strategically: There are many native plants that are considered drought-tolerant. By using plants that require minimal watering, you can enjoy plants around your home and conserve water.

Ride your bike: Cut down on using your car whenever you can. If possible, cycle or walk to work or for short errands. Not only does this save on transportation costs like gasoline and parking, but it’s good for heart health and maintaining a healthy body weight too.

Telecommute: If you have a long commute, see if your employer would be agreeable to let you work from home. Advancements in telecommunications and information technology have made this a possibility for more and more people, and it beats moving.

Go Green While Saving Green (Part II): Waste Reducing Tips

In the troubled economic times that we live in, everyone is looking to save money and maintain a household budget. Green living is a hot trend that can not only help to save the environment, but can save money as well. Sustainable living is a great idea for everyone. It can help you decrease your carbon footprint, reduce energy consumption, and cut down on everyday expenses as an added bonus. Here are some things to consider when it comes to reducing waste:

Buy gently used: You should be able to find just about anything you need when it comes to clothing, household items, or furniture, without buying new items that may not have been manufactured in a sustainable way. Keep items that are still usable out of landfills by looking for things you need at garage sales, consignment shops, or thrift stores.

Freecycle: Many communities have online list-serves for recycling items without cost. Sites such as allow people to offer items them don’t want anymore, and all that interested parties have to do is arrange to pick it up. If you are handy, there are many treasures waiting to be found for little of no cost that only need refinishing or a new coat of paint.

Borrow: Your local library may have a larger variety of books and movies to borrow than you could imagine. Many local libraries are connected to other libraries with the county or state so that you can request any material available and take it out with your library card. Nowadays, most library systems have websites so that you look for specific items or subjects.

Pool Resources: consider sharing things such as tools, equipment, or appliances with neighbors, family and friends. Not only will it help you to get to know those around you, but will cut down on everyone’s clutter. You can barter use of things you own for things someone else owns that you don’t.
Research large purchases: It’s worth the investment to look for long-lasting, higher quality products. Even if it costs a little more money initially, you save money by not having to replace your purchase, and further cuts down on waste.

Reduce household waste: Keep electronics, cell phones, or computers as long as you possibly can. When it is time to replace them, make sure that you recycle them responsibly or donate them.
Use rechargeable batteries: Using rechargeable batteries rather than regular batteries saves money and reduces waste. When purchasing a new car battery, make sure you dispose of the old one responsibly by trading it in or recycling it.

Cut down on disposable paper products: Reuse items whenever possible. For example, use kitchen cloths rather than paper towels and use a thermos rather than styrofoam cups.

Compost kitchen waste: Consider keeping a compost container or compost heap in your yard. You can recycle organic waste and use it as fertilizer to make your garden vegetables and flowers flourish. Besides reducing household waste, you will save money on chemical garden products that are harmful to the environment.

Hopefully this has given you some practical ideas to help you live more environmentally responsible and economical at the same time. We can all do our part to add to a cleaner environment.

Go Green While Saving Green (Part III): Shopping Tips

Green living is a hot trend in these economic times. Experts advise that efforts toward sustainable living can be key to turning troubled times around. There are simple things that anyone can do to reduce their carbon footprint, decrease energy consumption, and save some money as an added bonus.

Here are some things to consider when it comes to shopping:

Buy less meat: Most people depend on meat as their main protein source, but there are many other good protein sources that cost less, are better for you, and have less impact on the environment. Tofu, nuts, and legumes are all great sources of natural protein. There are also high protein pastas today that are healthy and low cost.

Buy organic: If you must have meat, eggs, or dairy, look for organic, humane sources. The best bet is to buy locally raised products. This supports local farmers and the economy.
Buy in bulk: You can purchase just about any item in bulk, from food to personal hygiene products. This is a good idea not just because it saves you money, but also because it cuts down on packaging waste and ink.

Don’t buy bottled water: Bottled water is costly, and also generates huge amounts of non-biodegradable waste. Consider purchasing a water filter instead. They are useful to purify water right from your tap. You can purchase a reusable bottle, fill it with your filtered water, and take it with you in the car or to work. Aluminium bottles are much better than plastic, and most of the time they are dishwasher safe.

Look or recyclable packaging: Hopefully you are already familiar with the materials you can recycle in your community, but if you aren’t you can contact your township to find out. When looking for products, be mindful of whether or not it comes in a container that can be recycled when it is empty rather than added to landfill waste. Many communities have recycling programs for glass, aluminium, steel, and #1 and #2 plastic.

Stop purchasing harmful cleaning products: Most people aren’t aware of how easy it is to make their own non-toxic, environmentally friendly cleaning products for home use. Such products are just as effective as heavily processed ones, and require only readily available ingredients such as lemon, vinegar, baking soda, and soap. Homemade natural cleaning products can help you save time, money, and packaging waste. It also can improve the quality of your indoor air. The internet can help you find plenty of resources to make eco-friendly cleaning products yourself.

Bring your own bags: Plastic and paper bags available to bag your groceries at most stores contribute to landfill waste. If everyone purchased just a few reusable tote bags and brought them with them whenever they shopped, it would reduce tons of waste. Many grocery stores give consumers a few cents credit for every bag they bring with them. Every little bit adds up to a lower grocery bill.

The next time you go to the grocery store, hopefully you will keep some of these ideas in mind. They are simple, reasonable ideas for anyone to make positive changes that can contribute to a cleaner environment and save costs at the same time.