Organic food costs more. Biodegradable disposable silverware costs more. Hybrid cars cost more. And if you want to install wind turbines or solar panels in your home, it’s going to cost more. But, while all these things do the job, they aren’t the only options—and you don’t need a house covered in solar panels and wind turbines to be eco-friendly. Here are some other things you can do to get more green without spending more green.
Clean It Your fridge coils, the lint in your dryer and your hairdryer, the dust in vents, baseboard heating, the dirt in your vacuum. Don’t make your appliances work harder and longer than they should.
Adjust Your Thermostat Almost half of a home’s energy consumption is due to heating and cooling. Each degree below 68 F during cold weather saves 3 to 5 percent more energy, as does keeping your thermostat at 78 F in warmer weather.
Go Low Flow Putting an aerator ($2) on all household faucets can cut your annual water consumption by 50 percent. A low flow shower head ($17) can cut down gallons of water use. Look for one that is labeled 2.5 gpm (gallons per minute). A low flow toilet is a little pricier to replace, but the Toilet Tank Bank ($1) can turn your toilet into low flush. This displacement bag will reduce the amount of water in your tank by .8 gallons, saving that amount of water with each flush.
Opt for Bamboo Bamboo is considered environmentally friendly due to its high yield and the relatively fast rate at which it replenishes itself. It takes just four to six years for bamboo to mature, compared to 50 to 100 years for typical hardwoods.
Reuse Rainwater Capture rainwater in a rain barrel and reuse the water to water plants.
Condense Power Put all of your electronics—TV, computer, treadmill, stereo equipment—on power strips ($10). Even when they are “off” electronics continue to draw electricity. Turning off a power strip at night or when you leave the house reduces energy use and saves money. And lose the charging station. Sure, it’s convenient. But keeping all of those chargers plugged in uses energy even when they aren’t in use.
Buy House plants A NASA study found that common house plants could remove up to 87 percent of air toxins in 24 hours.
Replace Your Bulbs CFL and LED bulbs ($2) use less energy and last about 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs. Instead of lighting the path to your front door using electricity, try solar walkway lights ($25) that charge all day and light up all night or an LED Spotlight ($66).
Insulate Your Water Heater If you don’t have one installed already, put an insulative jacket ($15) around your hot water heater, and wrap it with pipe insulation ($1). Also consider turning down the water temperature to 120 degrees. It will save you money and prevent scalding.
Buy a Toaster Oven Using a toaster oven for smaller meals instead of the big oven can save a ton of energy.
Replace Old Appliances New York’s Great Appliance Swap Out still has millions of dollars available for residents who want to replace their old, inefficient appliances with new, energy-efficient models. Customers can get rebates as high as $555 for purchasing high-efficiency refrigerators, freezers, clothes washers and dishwashers with funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. So if you are looking to buy a new appliance, make this your first stop: www.NYApplianceSwapOut.com. It could save you hundreds per year, especially if your appliances are more than 10 years old.