Saving energy, reducing your carbon footprint and reducing waste could save you money starting today. There's no time like the present, especially on Earth Day.
For those who are concerned about the environment but may not have the money to buy more expensive, environmentally friendly products, here some inexpensive ways to green your home and your life.
Weather stripping, which prevents airflow through cracks below doors and windows, isn’t just to keep in warm air in during the winter. If you use an air conditioner in the summer, it can keep cool air in and hot air out.
Improperly sealed homes can squander 10% to 15% of homeowner's heating dollars and reduce the effectiveness of air-conditioning in the summer, according to the Consumer Energy Center of the California Energy Commission. You can use weather stripping for large cracks and caulking to fill up smaller holes.
You can get a 10-foot roll of foam tape weather stripping for about $5 and door weather strip for about $12 at Home Depot. (And read more of our tips on cutting your energy use.)
Shopping for Energy Savings
For about the same price you’d pay for regular curtains, you can get thermal drapes. They're made from fabric on the heavy side which include a thermal lining to keep your home cool in the summer. They’ll help block out light and heat, but your home won’t be completely dark. And getting new thermal drapes will pay for themselves since they’ll help lower your energy bill. You can get them for $20 to $40 at JCPenny.com (Stock Quote: JCP) or Target.com (Stock Quote: TGT).
In the summer, use your ceiling fan in the counter-clockwise direction to pull warmer air upward. When you’re under the fan, you’ll feel a breeze that creates a wind-chill effect that will make you feel cooler, according to the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy. Most ceiling fans have a switch in the fan itself that lets you choose whether to turn the blades clockwise or counterclockwise. Consult the manufacturer for the specifics. Making your fan run clockwise may not have as much of a cooling effect since warmer air near the ceiling gets pushed down.
Conserve Water, Save Money
Only 1% of the earth’s water is suitable for human consumption. Water use is increasing, but that supply remains constant, according to the EPA. So managing water supply is vital, and there are a few moves you can make that could affect your wallet as well.
Fixing a leaky faucet that drips at one drip per second could save you more than 3,000 gallons of water each year, says the EPA. A leaky toilet can waste about 200 gallons of water every day.
Ditch the Brown Bag
If you bring your lunch to work or cart your groceries in paper or plastic bags, you’re contributing to the pileup at garbage dumps and landfills. Buying a reusable lunch bag or shopping bag could reduce the mark you make on the planet. You can even buy bags made from recycled water bottles, and some stores will take a few cents off your purchase every time you use your own bag.
You can get reusable shopping bags starting at $13 and lunch cooler bags for about $8 at ReusableBags.com.
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