Living a green lifestyle is essential to the sustainability of our home—and it is also good for our wallet. Below are nine smart energy habits that save thousands of dollars every year.
1. Light up Your Life.
Switching out your home or office lights for LED lighting can save up to 85% on your lighting bill. With new technology and greater availability, LED bulbs are now under $10 each and can last for up to 15 years. Unlike CFLs (compact fluorescents), they do not contain mercury or other toxic elements. Whatever bulbs you have in your home or workplace, live by the mantra, "On when you enter, off when you leave."
This mantra works at work, too! When the Ritz-Carlton, Denver switched to LED lighting, the electrical engineering team was able to use some of the savings on their lighting bill to invest in other efficiency upgrades.
2. Electricity: Get to Know Your Energy Hogs and Vampires.
You can save up to 90% on your electric bill with a few easy tricks. Put a timer on your water heater, so you are not heating water while you are asleep or at work. Don't heat or cool empty homes or rooms. (Hotels routinely turn off entire floors when occupancy is lower.) Combine loads for the dryer.
Big appliances are energy hogs, so the less you use them, the better. Power down and unplug your energy vampires like cell phone chargers, computer chargers, and home entertainment systems when they are not in use or charging. You don't need to charge your computer or phone 24/7, just as you don't need your lights on 24/7. A simple power strip can make it easy to power down. Drafty homes and buildings leak money, so look into insulting better (tip six below).
Xeriscape your lawns at home and work, and plant native greenery. Research greywater systems and find what you can incorporate into the home to reuse. Support community gardens instead of a carpet of grass. (The money that you save on the water bill is well worth the investment, plus you now have a food source!) Water plants in the early morning or evening when more of the water is absorbed and less evaporates in the hot sun. Don't keep water running while you brush, wash dishes, or wash hands.
4. Green Investing. Are Green Funds Really Green?
Sadly, there are more than a few fund companies that call their products sustainable and socially responsible but are invested in companies that are not. Most of the green exchange-traded funds (ETFs) run truer to their name than the mutual funds (even in well-known socially conscious fund companies). Be careful when investing in individual clean energy companies. Most are still in the red and can have volatile swings in their share price. Purchasing a fund protects you from the risk of owning just one individual company.
The average American spends almost $2,000 per year on gas and nearly $4,000 when gas prices are at their highest. Is it time to rethink your transportation? Look into an electric (EV) or hybrid car. Powering up an EV costs half or less than fueling up with gasoline, and some offer tax credits as well. Try moving closer to work. Look into commuting by bike or train.
Biking or walking when you run your errands can beautify your bottom line, your bottom, and our planet. You'd be surprised how much exercise and health you can enjoy, and how much money you'll save with this one simple trick.
6. Reduce Your Heating/Cooling Bill.
Matrix Energy (body heat) saves thousands of electricity when your home is properly insulated. Our body operates at 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, so simply having a few people in the room heats the air, particularly if the room is properly insulated. If your utility bill is in the hundreds, the chances are that you have a drafty house. Visit PassiveHouse.us for tips on passive solar, insulation, and energy reduction.
Complete your energy efficiency upgrades soon, and you might qualify for a tax credit. (Learn more at energy.gov
) When you can heat or cool a smaller space (your office, say) rather than the entire house, you are saving a massive amount of energy (and money).
7. Clean Energy Tax Credits.
Use them now! Many energy efficiency tax credits that were set to expire at the end of 2016 have been extended but have a phase-out clause. Visit EnergyStar.gov
and search for "tax credits" to see what is available.
8. Solar, Wind, and Hydro Power.
If you live in a sunny state, the dramatic drop in solar panel prices has made the payback time under five years for many homes —if you can connect to the grid. A solar-powered LivingHome's utility bill is only about $30/month! The power efficiency of the panel counts, and purchasing offers greater savings than leasing. While you're at it, look into solar water heaters
offers great tips for homeowners who are looking to purchase solar panels, wind power, and hydro systems.
9. The Global Earth Day Gratitude Celebration.
What is the Global Earth Day Gratitude Celebration?
From 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on the third Sunday of each month (worldwide, in your time zone), individuals around the world power up the gratitude and power down our energy consumption to get as close to personal net zero as possible.
Count our blessings. Focus on energy efficiency. Observe the fresh insights that flood our awareness and world consciousness. Be epic. Allow the lessons learned to inform new habits in the days ahead.
Get more tips on living a sustainable life from respected visionaries, such as H.R.H. The Prince of Wales; Deepak Chopra, Ron Finley; Lynne Twist, Kathleen Rogers (president of Earth Day Network
); Master Sha, Bert and John Jacobs (co-founders of Life is Good); and more in the Earth Day Gratitude ebook. Download your free e-book at EarthDayGratitude.com
Natalie Pace is the co-creator of the Earth Day Gratitude Project and the author of many bestsellers, including
The Gratitude Game.