I am not a "green" freak. I admit it. However, I do like saving money and so many of the "green" ideas can also save me money. Maybe, therefore, I could pass for "light green." So what "green" ideas are also going to save me money?
Anything that diminishes the use of electricity and gas in my home saves me money and saves natural resources. Okay, what are the things that will do that? It turns out there are quite a few.
First, let's talk heating and cooling my house.
- I can use shades, drapes or blinds in my house to control the amount of heat that comes in through my windows. So I should keep them shut in the summer and open in the winter.
- By strategically placing deciduous trees in my lawn, I can create shade for windows that are exposed to the sun, especially the west sun which is the hottest it seems. Those windows will not be shaded in the winter because the trees will have not leaves and I will, thus, have more sun coming through those windows.
- I can open my windows just like I am doing today. On nice days, opening windows can keep my heater or my air conditioner, depending on the season, from being necessary. I usually open a couple or more windows in different rooms so a cross breeze is created.
- I can change my air filter regularly and have my heating and cooling units checked on a regularly basis so they run efficiently. There is some cost there. Will I save myself enough money each year to pay for this? Possibly.
- I can make sure all doors and windows are well sealed. This might cost me a little cash, also. But if those doors and windows are letting in cold air, I'll probably pay myself back in a couple of months of savings.
- I can use ceiling fans which create a breeze in the summer that helps to cool me at a higher temperature so I can set my thermostat higher. I can also use them on reverse in the winter to help keep the warm air that normally rises to the ceiling circulating through out the room. This is particularly important in rooms with volume ceilings where the temperature at the ceiling can be as much as a 10 degrees higher than the temperature near floor.
- I can install a programmable thermostat that will be set to keep the temperature at different levels at different times during the day and night. Now this one is going to cost me some money in the beginning, but can save me as much as $180 per year. So that still saves me money in the long run, right?
Now, what other general things can I do to save electricity?
- Of course! I can use those neat compact fluorescent light bulbs! I have been doing that for several years already. Not only am I saving about 75% of the energy usage with these bulbs, but I have not replaced a single one of them, yet, and I have had some of them in use for at least 3 years! Yes, they cost a lot more, but I'm sure I have saved more than enough to make up the difference.
- I can make sure that when I run my dishwasher and washing machine that I have them full. I shouldn't run partial loads because I end up running them more often.
- If I need to replace an appliance, I can buy only Energy Star qualified ones.
- I can use sensor lights outside my house. These lights are triggered by movement and stay off most of the time. They actually help with security, also. These also pay for themselves in the electricity saved over a year.
What about saving gas?
- Well, of course, since I have a gas dryer, making sure it is full, as I mentioned above for the washing machine and the dishwasher, will necessitate running it less often.
- And, since I have a gas water heater, I can set the water temperature lower.
So far I'm doing good. It hasn't cost me anything to conserve electricity and gas. Can I do the same thing while conserving water? Yes, I can. Here are some ideas.
- Can I fix leaks at the faucets and the toilets? Sometimes I can. I recently had a toilet that dripped water from the tank continually. I went to Home Depot, bought a part (please don't ask me the name of the part because I don't know) that cost less than $5 and put it in myself . It took 2 minutes to read the directions and less than five minutes to put it in. Voila! No more dripping! Now I get to use one of my favorite phrases, "Yes, I can!" (Some fixes do take longer and more money).
- I can be careful to turn off the water at the faucet when I can. Like when I am brushing my teeth or rinsing dishes. I can take shorter showers. Aughh!!! That is a hard one though because my arthritis loves long showers.
- I can use a cut-off nozzle when I wash my car. I could probably pay for that nozzle in a couple of car washings through the savings in water.
- I can sweep my driveway and sidewalks in lieu of hosing them down.
- I can water my yard only before 9 am or after 8 pm which will mean less water evaporates.
- I can manually turn off my automatic sprinklers when it is raining.
- I can install aerators at faucets and showers. They provide a nice strong flow using less water. Oops! A little expense there. My estimate is that it would take about a year of saving water flow to pay for them.
- I can not use the toilet as a trash basket.
- I can make sure trees and bushes are mulched, if they do not have landscaping plastic around them. Either plastic, which is usually put around bushes before landscaping rock is added, or some type of mulch slows down evaporation. Mulch has the added benefit of breaking down as it ages and creating a type of fertilization. This one pays for itself in a month or so of summer weather.
Now for you real "greenies" I have some more ideas that may cost a little.
1. Replace toilets with the new "low flush" toilets.
2. Install a circulating hot water pump
3. Install a heat pump to distribute heat more efficiently
4. Replace single pane windows with double pane energy saving windows.
5. Install solar panes
I can't leave the green subject without mentioning recycling. I can recycle newspapers, all paper, plastic containers and bags. I can buy products in recyclable containers.
Yes, I can!! I can be green without spending any more money than I will save in a year or less! Yes, I can!!