Simple Eco-Tips That Can Save You $600+ Per Year

Posted August 10th, 2009 in Saving Money 13 Comments

save-money-and-environment Okay, let’s get straight down to business. You want to save the planet, I want to save the planet. All things being equal, so does just about everyone else.

Problem is, all things aren’t equal. Sometimes it seems like being eco-friendly is nothing but hard work and money. Have you heard how much those solar panel systems cost? Do you know how long it would take to install brand-new attic insulation? Serious environmentalists know the benefits of these things, but many regular people are put off by the apparent cost of entry into green-hood.

In this article, we’re going to set some things straight and show you how everyone can find some ways to go green. Yes, even people who are really busy and don’t like spending money can help. These tips will not only make you more eco-friendly, they’ll also save you a collective $600+ every year. And they won’t take long to do, either.

Here are 5 simple eco-tips that will save your time, money, and planet:

#1 — Switch to CFL lighting

cfl-bulbLighting accounts for about 7% of an average home’s energy costs. Switching to CFL bulbs (compact-fluorescent lighting) is easy and simple to do, and saves about 66% on energy costs compared with similar incandescent bulbs. On top of that, CFL bulbs last about 10 times longer than traditional bulbs, so they save you the headache of replacing regular lights all of the time.

Cost of 20 CFL bulbs:

About $38

Yearly Savings:

$5-7 per bulb, $120 annually

#2 — Use a water-saving shower head

showerheadA typical shower head uses 4-5 gallons of water per minute (GPM) — and that can get expensive if you like to take long showers. Energy efficient or water-saving shower heads can be found in a range from 1.5 gpm to 2.5GPM, which can save you over 50% on your water costs (and make your hot water last longer, too).

Cost of shower head:

$25 from Amazon.com

Yearly Savings:

50% less water usage due to showers, roughly $200

#3 — Wash clothes in cold water

washerUnless you’re dealing with some really serious stains, there’s not much benefit to washing your clothes in hot water (and it will make them shrink more). A good detergent and a cold-water wash can get your clothes just as clean, and switching to cold washes could save a staggering 85% of the energy used per load.

Cost of cold water wash:

Free :-)

Yearly Savings:

$61 for an average household

#4 — Inflate your car tires

car-tireWhen was the last time you checked your car’s tire pressure? I know, I can’t remember either. Problem is, low tire pressure (even slightly off normal) can significantly increase the rolling resistance of your car. That means lower gas mileage, and lower gas mileage is more expensive and worse for the environment.

Cost of inflating tires:

50 cents at a gas station

Yearly Savings:

$38 for the average American

#5 — Get a programmable thermostat

thermostatThe average homeowner spends about 35% of their housing-costs on heating and cooling alone. Getting a programmable thermostat can lower those costs by up to 20%, depending on how aggressive you are with your temperature settings. The key is to set the temperature lower at night (when we’re sleeping anyhow) and only warm the house during the day. If you live in a hot climate (or it’s the summer) you can do the opposite. The less energy you use on climate control the more money you’ll save.

Cost of thermostat:

As low as $40

Yearly Savings:

About $200 per year, depending on where you live

Use these tips and save $619 yearly

The total savings for all of these tips combined is a rather hefty $619 per year. All of that, and the immediate cost to you is a only few hours of work and about $100. Not too bad for saving the environment, eh?

Share your thoughts:

Have you used any of these eco-tips before? How did they work out?

Do you have any other good ideas to add to the list? Let us know in the comments.

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13 Reader Comments

(add yours)
  1. Matt Keegan August 10th

    Scratch CFL bulbs off of your list as they contain mercury and are impossible to recycle. If a bulb breaks, you need to take care how you dispose of it as mercury is toxic. Google the “federal guidelines” for clean up and disposal to learn exactly what is involved with CFL lighting.

  2. Mason Hipp August 10th

    Hey Matt,

    While it’s true that CFLs contain mercury, and it is a toxic substance, the net impact of a CFL bulb is still very much positive.

    The amount of mercury in a single CFL bulb is about 5mg, which, to put it in perspective, is 1/5 the amount found in the average watch battery, and 1/100th of the amount found in a silver dental filling. Yes, it does warrant extra care to avoid bulb breakage, but it is definitely not a deal breaker.

    Additionally, you CAN actually recycle CFL bulbs. Companies like The Home Depot, IKEA, and others have launched programs that allow you to bring old bulbs to their stores for recycling. You can find even more places to recycle them at http://www.earth911.org

    While CFLs certainly aren’t perfect, the overall impact is positive for both consumers and the environment — which is something that few other solutions provide.

    Thanks for the thoughtful comment,

    - Mason

  3. Chuck Reynolds August 10th

    I was going to say - you can recycle CFL’s at certain places and you bring those to any Best Buy and they’ll recycle those through 1-800-Recycling or I think Home Depot does that as well.
    Check out http://1800recycling.com - you can look up any other local places to bring those and other recyclables

  4. Bas August 11th

    LED-bulbs are coming, guys! They’re more expensive than CFL’s, but they use even less energy and last much longer - up to 30 years!

  5. Mason Hipp August 11th

    @Bas — Yes! I’m really excited about all of the improvements in LED technology. They are really the true long-term winner, much better than CFLs.

    Unfortunately, we probably have several years before they reach the point where they are cost-effective and marketable on a massive scale.

  6. Nicole Foster August 11th

    Washing your clothes in cold water instead of warm does save money! I regularly do laundry, and I saved my mother a bunch of money that would have been wasted.

    One energy-saving tip that I regularly exercise is turning off your computer. When I’m going to bed, or if I going out for more than 30 minutes, I shut down my computer. I go as far as turning off the surge protector. It has saved a lot of money!

  7. Arisu August 17th

    Great tips.
    Another way to save money is unplugging the TV, DVD, Microwave and such - even when not “working” they´re using energy and that can make a BIG difference in your energy bills.

  8. Alexa August 17th

    Hope you will get lots of hits, this is great. Keep up the good works.

  9. Wayne Sponholtz September 2nd

    Change your air conditioner/heater air filter often.
    Not sure how much energy you actually save, and I guess it would depend on how dirty the old one was. If you are pulling air through a clogged filter you are wasting energy. Of course when its nice outside just open the windows.

  10. lOl April 19th

    wASSUP KIDOSS

  11. bd May 24th

    tself contributes almost 60% of the country’s leather products, and is then followed by Maharashtra, Delhi and NCR regions and various other states.

  12. Brian Xie January 11th

    Or even better, take cold showers! I’ve been doing this since I read the article and watched the TED talk video in this link: http://impossiblehq.com/cold-showers-excuses. Cold showers may have health benefits, too.

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