Going green isn’t just a trend. Thousands of dollars a year can be put back into your wallet. Here are fifteen ways I researched that will help you get there.
Carpool (Estimated Cost Savings: $650 – $1,000)
It’s calculated that the average American uses about 7 gallons of gas per week commuting to and from work. At today’s prices, that’s about $25.75 a week, or nearly $1,300 a year.
But if you share your ride and the gas bill with just one friend, you each save $650 a year. If four of you carpool, you each save nearly $1,000. Websites like Divide the Ride, eRideShare, and CarPool World can help you find other commuters headed your way.
Stop Eating Out (Estimated Cost Savings: Hundreds, if not thousands of dollars)
The typical U.S. family spends $4,000 on meals per year outside the home. A family that commits to eating at home can save $3,000 in one year and eat just as well. Cooking at home will also force you to pay more attention to the ingredients that are going into your food.
Rent, Borrow and Freecycle (Estimated Cost Savings: Hundreds of dollars)
Did you know that you can go online to find out who has something you can borrow? Freecycle connects people getting rid of useful stuff to people who want those same items.
If you’d rather borrow items from people you know, ask your neighbors and friends before buying a tool or item you won’t use that often.
Start a Vegetable Garden (Estimated Cost Savings: $25- $2,000)
While some may doubt that growing your own food can save you money, Roger Doiron, founder of Kitchen Gardeners International, proved it by growing about $2,000 worth of produce in one season in his garden, according to grocery-store prices. Start saving money by growing crops like tomatoes, potatoes, salad greens, zucchini, and strawberries.
Buy an Affordable Fuel-Efficient Car (Savings: Hundreds or thousands of dollars)
If you need a new car, consider buying a fuel-efficient one that’s used. With the price of gas today, cars that get over 30 miles per gallon can significantly reduce the amount of money you spend on gas. If you do a lot of driving, a fuel-efficient car is a must.
Do a Home Energy Audit (Estimated Cost Savings: Up to $570)
Much of the energy a household uses each year is wasted. Most homes can benefit significantly from simple improvements like caulking cracks, sealing windows and ducts, and using draft snakes to save money on heating and cooling costs. You can also install a programmable thermostat to control your heating and air-conditioning when you’re sleeping or not at home.
Adjust Water Heater Temperature Settings (Estimated Cost Savings: $30-$475)
The average U.S. household spends $1,900 on heating, hot water and electricity.
Hot water represents as much as 25 percent of the cost of heating, hot water and electricity costs, according to the Department of Energy, and much of it is wasted. If you’re buying a water heater, choose an Energy Star model or a tankless or solar water heater. These more advanced systems are expensive to buy, but they eliminate your hot water costs. If you have a hot water heater already, consider turning the temperature down, so the tap water isn’t so hot, and wash your clothes in cold water, says.
Make Your Own Green Cleaning Products (Estimated Cost Savings: $200 or more)
Cleaning products — from dishwasher and laundry detergents to all-purpose, window, toilet bowl and tile cleaners — are surprisingly expensive. But most can be replaced with home-made remedies, using baking soda, vinegar and lemon juice.
Make Natural Beauty Products (Estimated Cost Savings: Up to $180)
A recent survey estimated that the average woman spends $180 on beauty products annually. Many products can be made at home without any of the chemicals found in most store-bought products, using ingredients like avocado, yogurt, eggs, oatmeal and sea salt.
Use the Library (Estimated Cost Savings: $118)
Going green and saving money can be as easy as taking a trip to the library. The average American family spends an average of $118 on books, magazine and newspaper subscriptions per year. But you can save that money by borrowing books from a library, and save space too.
Switch to Energy-Efficient Lighting (Estimated Cost Savings: $112)
According to the Daily Green, lighting represents about 11 percent of a home’s energy bill — $210 annually on average. To waste less energy, replace old light bulbs with energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs, light emitting diodes, or halogen lights, which can save you up to 75 percent on your yearly lighting bill.
Plug Electronics into Power Strips (Estimated Cost Savings: $100)
You want your television and your computer to work as soon as you turn them on. But while you’re out and about, these electronics are plugged in and not being used, running up your electric bill. Plug everything into one power cord that you can switch off when you leave the house, making it easier to save money and go green.
Line Dry Your Clothes (Estimated Cost Savings: Up to $85)
The clothes dryer is one of the biggest energy-consuming appliances in the house. You can save the money you would spend on operating your clothes dryer by hanging your clothes out to dry or laying them on a clothing rack. These green alternatives are also much less taxing on your clothing, making your clothes last longer.
Compost (Estimated Cost Savings: $30-$60)
By composting kitchen scraps and lawn waste, you can create nutrient-rich soil from your garbage, saving you money on fertilizer, and cutting down on the amount of waste you produce. Your garden and lawn will thank you for it.
Fix Water Leaks (Estimated Cost Savings: $20)
The squeaky wheel may get oiled, but a leaky faucet can waste about 3 gallons of water a day, and a leaky toilet can waste 22 gallons. This can add up to $20 a year. While it may not seem like much, fix these leaks now. You will save yourself money … and the annoyance of a dripping faucet.