NEW YORK (MainStreet) During these first weeks in January, all the common New Year's resolutions are floating around with weight loss usually being first on the list. However, this year especially, more people are looking for ways to save money. If you are a homeowner, the following five "go green" tips are simple enough to carry out and have the potential to save you a bunch of money over the course of the year.
1. Cleaning Products. Before you break out the Lysol Kitchen Cleaner to clean the mess on the counter, take a jab at an all-natural liquid castile soap, such as this one made by Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps. Made primarily from organic oils, this soap is certified fair trade, non-GMO, non-animal tested and vegan. A 32-ounce bottle costs approximately $16.99, but before you say that the price is higher than a bottle of Lysol, you should know that castile soap can be used to clean multiple areas. When diluted to the proper amount per task, it can be used on dishes, floors, and laundry, in addition to counter surfaces. The natural ingredients in the soap also enable the product to double as a body wash or a shampoo! This soap can also be used for pest control, which you will read more about in the next tip.
How it saves you money: A 22-ounce spray bottle of Lysol Antibacterial Kitchen Cleaner retails anywhere from $4.50 to $8.50. If you were to trade your Lysol, which handles one specific task, in for one 32-ounce bottle of Dr. Bronner's liquid soap, you would be paying $16.99 for an eco-friendly counter cleaner (~$6), floor cleaner (~$8), laundry detergent (~$8), and more, all in one.
2. Pest control. Instead of calling a traditional exterminator in times of pest problems, first try taking a shot at a more natural, environmentally-friendly way to control your pests. This helpful infographic found on the website for Green Home Pest Control shows that conventional pesticides are chemically-laden, environmentally destructive, and dangerous toward your health and well-being and that of those around you. Aside from the astounding number of unintentional deaths and illnesses related to chemical pesticides, the site also explains that these concoctions may not even be strong enough to combat certain pests, because the creatures are slowly evolving and becoming immune to the same chemicals that have been used for so long. If you are willing to take matters into your own hands, this site is a great tool to rely on. Depending on the insect or animal that is causing the problem, applying simple household products such as cayenne pepper, eggs, canola oil, or liquid soap (as mentioned above) on the affected areas will provide relief.
How it saves you money: Handling a pest issue in general will save money, because it will force you to spot the cracks or holes in your home's foundation where the pests are getting in, therefore enabling you to fix the "leaks" and, in turn, not require as much electricity or heat for your home. Paying for a professional "green" pest expert is price comparable with a "non-green" expert; however, if you opt to treat the problem yourself, you will save quite a bit. An expert can cost upwards of $500, while things like soap, oil and pepper cost between $3 and $20 each.
3. Switching light bulbs. Before you climb up on to your kitchen chair to change that broken light bulb, take a few minutes to research different bulbs. Most of the time, when considering the amount of an expensive light bill, people tend to focus more on the amount of time that lights were left on unnecessarily rather than the type of light being used. Studies show that switching from average, incandescent light bulbs to LED, CFL (compact fluorescent lighting), or even halogen bulbs generate an increase in economic benefit, meaning more money in your pocket.
According to this interview with Brian Clark Howard, author of Green Lighting (McGraw-Hill, 2010), the efficiency percentages of those three types of bulbs over average incandescent bulbs are as follows: halogen bulbs are approximately 30% more efficient, CFLs are about 75%, and LEDs are the most efficient, coming in at about a 90% advantage. As far as getting the most for your money, this article states that, "The standard incandescent bulbwhat we typically think of as a "basic light bulb"is a pretty inefficient piece of technology, wasting 90 to 90% of its electrical use as heat rather than useful light." You already pay for heat no need to do it twice.
How it saves you money: Though you will need to pay a bit more for your energy-efficient bulbs up front, this type of lighting has a 600% return on investment. So, basically, investing $1 into energy-efficient light bulbs can "pay you back" approximately $6 in light bill savings.
4. Remote Climate Control.
Keeping in tune with lowering the light and electric bills in your home, you may want to consider investing in a program that controls things such as your heat and/or light through your smartphone when you're not there. This one, for example, is available through SmartHome.com. The thermostat can be controlled by a remote, either for when you're home and way too comfortable on the couch, or from your smartphone, when you're at work or on the run. If you're a person who leaves the heat off in the morning, only to return home from work to the freezing cold, this product would enable you to start the heat prior to you getting home. On the other hand, if you tend to leave the heat on all day because you hate coming home to the cold, this product will wind up paying for itself within a very short time.
How it saves you money: The up-front purchase price is expensive, coming in at $149.99, however, the money saved is dependent upon how often you leave your empty house with the heat on. Products such as this one will enable you to have a home that is climate-controlled to your liking, without racking up a huge heat bill.
5. Upgrading water fixtures. Have you ever thought about how much water one toilet flush uses? According to this article, the average toilet can use up to three gallons. Three gallons! And that is regardless of the intensity of the waste product floating around in the bowl. Because of this, some homeowners choose to upgrade to a "low gallon per flush" (or low GPF) toilet. A low GPF toilet like this one typically uses just over one gallon of water per flush. With a toilet that uses less than half the amount of water that a regular toilet uses per flush, it's easy to imagine how much money you'd save on your water bill. To continue decreasing water usage, the article also suggests investing in a water aerator. This one, priced at just $6.98, claims to save more than 30% on water usage compared to an average faucet.
How it saves you money: While water aerators, priced anywhere from ~$6 to ~$100, are much less expensive than a new toilet bowl, costing upwards of ~$300, both upgrades would eventually pay for themselves in money saved on both water and electric (less water used means less water that needs to be heated!).
--Written by Ciara Larkin for MainStreet