Conservation efforts increase daily as we learn the environment needs our help. Those endeavors, however, go beyond recycling initiatives, energy efficiency, and the like; by preserving our planet, you can also preserve your own bank account. Being eco-friendly means being economically friendly which can save you significant amounts of money. Cutting down on waste can help with cutting down on wasteful spending habits. Living a sustainable lifestyle doesn’t have to mean replacing your car with a more fuel efficient one, but can start with smaller efforts around home and in your daily life that add up in a big way.
- Complete a Home Energy Audit (Potential savings: About $500/year)
The average U.S. household spends at least $2,200 on utility and energy bills per year1 and much of that is spent on paying for heating and cooling costs2. Wasted energy can be improved from one of several home improvements, including energy efficient appliances, sealing windows/ducts/doors, adding insulation to your ceiling or attic, and more, making it difficult to pinpoint exactly where you should start. Contact your local utility company or hire a contractor to perform an energy audit for a better idea on where to start your home improvement projects and see which upgrades are the most cost-effective for your home. On top of making these energy saving enhancements that will also offset your utility bill costs, you could save additional money by contacting your insurance to see if they provide any discounts for making standard efficiency improvements. Need some ideas on which home improvements will give you the best returns? Go here to get an idea on projects that can help keep your home running more efficiently while also getting you the best return on your investment (ROI).
- Recycle Paper, Plastics, Cardboard – Even Your Electronics (Potential savings: About $100/year)
Small choices, like recycling that plastic bottle or signing up for paperless electronic statements from your bank, add up to big changes and help minimize environmental impact. E-statements save on paper, postage, and other costs – and some billers offer discounts for singing up for paperless billing to further pass the savings on to you. Assuming you receive a $1 discount on four bills per month, you could save $48 per year. While there is no immediate cash return for recycling certain products (like plastic bags, for example), manufacturing costs are typically reduced in the long-term, saving you money on your next grocery run. Recycling electronics, however, can put cash back in your wallet or offer other incentives like gift cards or discounts. Consider recycling old cell phones, laptops, or gaming systems for cash by finding a reputable reseller or even contacting the manufacturer directly. For your safety, always scrub your information from your electronics and utilize a reputable reseller or recycling program.
- Energy Efficient Lighting is a Bright Idea (Potential savings: About $75/year)
About 5% of the average U.S. household’s energy budget is dedicated to lighting3. By switching to energy-efficient lighting, you can quickly waste less energy and keep more of your money. Homeowners can save around $75 per year by replacing traditional incandescent light bulbs to energy-efficient bulbs like halogen incandescents, LED bulbs, or compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs)4. These bulbs use less energy than traditional bulbs saving you money in the short-term, and they also last longer saving you money in the long-term. While investing in energy-efficient lighting or even dimmer switches is a good start, the easiest way to save energy and money on lighting is simple: turn off all of the lights when leaving a room!
Wasted resources could mean wasted cash and being less wasteful can save you significant money while diminishing harmful environmental effects. Sustainability starts at home – and you can start being environmentally responsible with steps like signing up for e-statements or simply recycling today.
1Source: American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, “Energy Expenditures by American Families”
2Source: US Department of Energy, “Energy Saver”
3Source: US Department of Energy, “Lighting Choices to Save You Money”
4Source: US Department of Energy, “How Energy-Efficient Light Bulbs Compare with Traditional Incandescents”