Cheaper, greener ways to live

The rising cost of living could make you feel that life is not cheap, but it doesn’t have to be so expensive if you think about it, and saving money can help to save the environment. There are many small changes you can make to improve your budget and also improve the health of the planet at the same time.

Each degree you turn down the heat saves 3 percent of heating costs, while each degree you raise the temperature of your air conditioner saves 3-4 percent of cooling costs. By adjusting the temperature  2 degrees all year, you can save about 2,000 pounds of C02 a year, and lower your energy bills.

A stove burns up huge amounts of energy to heat up to temperature, then to keep the oven at temperature. Cooking with a slow cooker, or toaster oven conserves energy and reduces the amount of CO2 used. They are smaller and take less energy to raise the temperature to be able to cook food, with the slow cooker using only a little more power than a light bulb. Makes ‘one pot’ meal or stew and the energy used is tiny for a fuel family meal.

A good idea to lower your energy bills even further is to invest in a solar oven which uses no CO2 and still cooks things nicely. There are several designs that all harness the sun and concentrate its rays to cook food. Unlike standard energy ovens they do not heat up the house in summer and are versatile enough to cook anything you can bake in a conventional oven.

If you use a desktop computer switch to a laptop as it uses less power and can run on batteries and remember at the end of the day switch it off to save power and costly electricity. A laptop is also more practical and is cheaper to invest in as well as being more versatile.

Cold wash your clothes, by cold washing your laundry you save around $60 a year. Hang dry the wet laundry to save energy and CO2 in the winter, or colder months, try drying them inside or by somewhere warm on a drying rack. You can buy ones that can be set up indoors or fold flat to an outside wall to save space. A dryer uses around 700 pounds of CO2 a year for the average family and three loads a week – consider how much you can save on your electricity bill if you let your clothes air dry.

Plug anything that can be powered by a remote control or that has a power cube transformer (little black box) into a power strip, and turn it off, and/or unplug, when not in use. Power cubes are 60-80 percent inefficient and drain power even if everything is fully powered, and if the electrical items they serve are on standby they are draining power even though they are not in use. This energy can all be saved.

Always turn the lights off when not in a room, it saves a lot of energy, switch from hazardous halogens to more efficient lights, install motion sensors on outdoor lights, maybe even try them indoor too.

Switch to compact fluorescent from regular incandescent bulbs and use 60 percent less energy per bulb and save 300 pounds of C02 a year.  Led bulbs are even more efficient. These may be more expensive but in the long run it will work out better for your home as they last up to 25 times longer and are also excellent for the environment.

Give your water heater a blanket. Energy is lost as the water heater tries to keep its contents hot. If you insulate the tank it you prevent energy leakage as it keeps the temperature of the water more constant. Make sure it’s a proper insulated blanket and it’ll save thousands of CO2 every year, and it’s nice to know your water heater has its own specially designed covering that saves you money. Consider insulating water pipes to save even more CO2.

Use public transport whenever possible, walk, bike, try carpooling, shop at a local grocery store. Avoid using your car whenever you can, it’ll work out cheaper and more environmentally friendly in the end. Keep your tires inflated to improve gas mileage by 3 percent. Every gallon you save also saves 20 pounds of C02 emissions as well as money.

Going green as much as possible can save you money, and all it takes is a little planning and a little effort. As you practise these green principles they will become a habit and then saving money, and saving the planet will be a natural part of your life.

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