Most people are aware that going green not only saves the environment, it also saves money. However, the big Catch 22 with going green is that the upfront costs can be quite expensive. For example, in-floor radiant heating can save you money on your heating bills and reduce greenhouse emissions, but it can be extremely expensive to install because you have to tear up the existing flooring, install the heating elements, then either replace the old flooring or install all new flooring. Electric and hybrid cars save on gas costs and emissions, but they tend to be more expensive than gas-powered models. However, going green doesn’t mean you have to go all out. In fact, there are several ways that you can go green without going broke.
The old phrase “reduce, reuse, recycle” is crucial when it comes to small, and inexpensive, ways of going green. For example, rather than purchase water in plastic bottles, invest in a faucet-mount water filter that retails for less than $40 and reuse glass juice and milk bottles. That way you keep both the glass and plastic bottles out of the landfill and you reduce the environmental impact of transporting water from draught-ridden areas.
Another small way to go green is to reduce the number of trips and the distance you drive in your car. For example, if you live near a grocery store, consider walking or biking for small trips, rather than taking your car. When you do drive, try to combine all of your errands in one trip, rather than spreading them throughout the week, and keeping all of your stops in close proximity to each other.
When you do shop, make sure you use a list and that you only buy what you need that will not only save you money, it will also help the environment. According to EndHunger.org, approximately 40 percent of the foods Americans buy goes to waste. When you factor in the amount of money and resources, especially water, that go into producing that food, that waste is a tremendous environmental drain. Another option is to invest in a chest freezer to store foods long-term. The National Center for Home Food Preservation indicates that you can freeze almost anything so long as you prepare and package it properly.
There are several small, energy-saving devices that you can install in your house fairly inexpensively. These include:
· Programmable thermostats;
· Water-saving showerheads and faucets;
· Toilet inserts that save water;
· Compact fluorescent bulbs; and,
· Timers on your lights and electrical appliances.
Consider growing a garden, which can save you on food and transportation costs. It can also reduce the environmental impact of grocery stores transporting goods to their locations.
Many municipalities are starting to collect recycling along with garbage pickup. Some areas even provide recycling bins specifically for that purpose. If your area has a recycling program, make sure that you are aware of which items are prohibited. For example, some areas will take plastic jugs, but not the caps; or cardboard boxes must be broken down before you put them in the bin. Some areas might still take your recycling even if you don’t follow the rules, but it tends to bog down the process on the receiving end.
There may come a point when you need to make larger changes to go green. For example, EnergyStar recommends replacing your furnace if it is more than 15 years old. If your furnace came with your house, and you’ve been living there for at least ten years, it might be time to look into a new, high efficiency model. The same goes if your furnace has needed frequent repairs over the years. Air conditioner units have a similar lifespan, so if they were installed at the same time you could be looking at a major expense.
While you might not consider credit part of a green lifestyle, the fact is that you will probably need to reply on a home loan or financing to pay for some large green changes. This means you need to make sure you have a good credit score in order to get a good interest rate, or even qualify for a loan at all. The same goes for purchasing an eco-friendly car. You are more likely to get a decent interest rate and payment plan if you have a good credit score. Many credit repair services like Lexington Law recommend that you educate yourself on your current credit rating, and take the necessary steps to maintain or improve that rating. In cases where your credit is severely damaged, you might want to consider getting professional help.
Another thing to remember is that there are different levels of green. That new furnace doesn’t have to be the high-end model, and you don’t have to get the luxury hybrid car. In fact, even though hybrid cars are very popular, you might be able to spend less on a gas-powered vehicle that is almost as efficient.
You should also prioritize your upgrades. For example, if you are considering replacing the furnace and the air conditioner, but you also need to look into new windows and doors, as well as a new water heater, you should consider making the most urgent repair and saving the others for another time. Or, if none of the repairs is especially urgent, consider making the most cost-effective repair first.
Finally, regardless of which repair you choose first, you should research and plan your upgrade. For example, if you are considering switching from a traditional tank water heater to a tankless system, you will need to know if you can use one unit for your whole home, or if it is more cost efficient to have multiple units for different areas, such as individual tanks for your kitchen, bath, and laundry. One large unit might be cheaper to install, but it might not effectively meet your hot water needs, especially if you live in a house with multiple bathrooms that have more than one shower head running at once.
As you can see, going green doesn’t have to mean going broke. In fact, some methods require little to no money at all.