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Sure, we all want to do our part and help our planet stay healthy. Maybe you’ve planted a tree or cut out plastic straws. Kudos! But with life as busy as it is, it can be hard to find the extra time and energy to go green. Sometimes we need a little extra motivation. That’s why we’ve wrangled up five tips that give you two-for-one benefits. They help you save money and energy.
Each of these tips requires an hour or less of manual labor (and most take just a few minutes). Plus, they’re all extremely cheap investments that will offer you long-term savings. What’s stopping you from protecting your pocketbook and the planet?
The heat waves this summer taught us all a thing or two about the work it takes to keep our homes at a comfortable temperature. You could blast your air conditioning or stock up on plug-in fans — or you could close your window coverings. It seems simple, but keeping the blinds drawn can reduce your home’s heat gains by 33 percent.
Keeping out the sun is a no-brainer in the summer, but don’t forget about your drapes in the winter. Keeping them closed helps your home hold onto 10 percent more heat.
Did you know that 90 percent of the energy an incandescent bulb uses is given off as heat? An LED bulb uses about 75 percent less energy, and it also lasts as much as 25 times longer. That’s a whole lot less time clambering up ladders to swap out a burnt bulb! If you replace 15 incandescents in your house, you can save about $50 a year.
Be advised that LED light is much cooler than incandescent light, in more ways than one. The light itself is more blue than yellow. If you don’t like the sterile feel of cooler light, look for LED bulbs specifically marked with “warm” on the packaging. And for lamps, you may want to switch out the lampshade to balance out the cooler light.
Dial in your thermostat
Want to save money and energy with a change that will cost you $0? We’ve got an easy one for you.
Turning just two dials in your house can really turn up your savings. Start with your thermostat. In the summer, keep your temperature above 78 degrees F. Every degree you go above 78 can save you almost 10 percent. In the winter, go the opposite direction, staying at 68 degrees F or below. It might feel like an uncomfortable jump if either of these seasonal temperatures are a dramatic difference from your current preference. To make it easier, adjust the temperature by just one degree per day.
Don’t stop with your thermostat. Turn down your water heater for some decent savings and a lower likelihood of scalding yourself while doing the dishes. Most homes have their water heaters set at 140 degrees F but only need water up to 120 degrees F. Turn yours down the 20 degrees and see savings of as much as 20 percent. You can find more info on optimal water heater temperatures on energy.gov.
The EPA estimates that Americans spend about $500 per year on their household water. Save money and energy by installing low-flow technology at home. For the easiest swap, change out your showerhead. You can instantly go from using five gallons of water per minute to just two. Low-flow toilets and faucets are also available. Making these changes can help you save 20,000 gallons each year.
Free your filter
Energy Star reports that the average American household spends around $2,000 per year on utilities, and almost half goes just to heating and cooling the home. Don’t make your HVAC system work harder than necessary; clogged air filters push it into extra work, which can cost you big. Think about it: How much easier is it to breathe normally versus breathing with a handkerchief over your mouth? Swap out your air filters every three months to ensure you’re getting optimal efficiency from your HVAC.
These are just a few ways to get started. Do you have any tips to save money and energy? Let us know in the comments!