Simple and Affordable Ways to Help the Planet and Save Money
Most people have New Year’s resolutions. Usually it’s losing weight, getting healthier or “going green”. Many green initiatives are occurring on a local or federal government level. As an example, the US Government, as of January 1st, 2020, has banned the manufacturing or import of the HCFC-22 or R22 refrigerant. Locally, there is now a ban (or charge for) single use plastic bags in 6 NJ towns. People are not always happy with these changes, but whether we like them or not, they’re happening. They might only seem like small steps, but in the words of Neil Armstrong, “One small step for man, one giant step for mankind.”
There is a light at the end of the green tunnel here. Not only will these changes help the environment in the long run, but they can also help you save money! Maybe it’s time we get ahead of the “go green” game, before we’re told we MUST.
People often think that going green means spending large amounts of money. There are a few things you can do that can help the environment without harming your wallet. One thing I have done myself, and Reiner has done as well, is going paperless. Stop the amount of paper waste going into your mailbox and have all your bills online (if it’s a secure site). All the information you need is at your fingertips and you don’t have to worry about misplacing, losing or accidentally throwing away important paperwork. Another bright idea is to change your incandescent light bulbs to LED or CFL lights. These now come in different “temperatures” so you can have anything from a cool white light to warm white. Finally, consider getting rid of chemical cleaners and buy natural cleaners or make a non-toxic multi-purpose cleaner yourself. Not only are natural cleaners good for the environment, but they’re safer for you too. Equal parts of vinegar and water is a great way to disinfect, but it also helps to remove odors and doesn’t leave streaks on glass!
As New Jersey residents we’re already a little green. After all, we live in the Garden State! Although not as abundant as it once was, New Jersey farms still occupy 17% of the state. You can find Fresh New Jersey produce at farmers markets and most major grocery retailers. Cut down on your environmental footprint by taking advantage of what our local markets have to offer. Shop seasonally and locally! Oh, and when you go shopping…don’t forget those reusable shopping bags. Of course, if you have the room and the green thumb, you can skip the store all together and grow your own!
Additionally, there are some bigger steps we can take at home to cut down on our environmental footprint. First, invest in energy efficient appliances including dishwashers, refrigerators, washers and dryers. HVAC equipment like air conditioners, boilers and furnaces are also manufactured to be energy efficient which is so important as you’re consistently running these units throughout the year. If you’re going to invest in energy efficient HVAC equipment, make sure your house is properly insulated to maintain the correct temperature, therefore keeping your energy bill down. Speaking of insulation, try wrapping your hot water heater in an insulation blanket to conserve heat and energy. All these things may cost you in the beginning, but with tax credits and lower utility bills, you will see a return on your investment.
Finally, here are another few easy ways to “go green” including:
- Utilize natural light. Turn off your lights and open the blinds during the day!
- Shutdown and unplug electronics/chargers when not in use.
- Find alternative means to using a car. Walk or bike when possible. Not only will you cut down on emissions, but you will also get some exercise.
- Use public transportation or carpool. The less cars on the road the better!
- Fix leaky faucets to help save water and money on your water bill.
- Turn down the thermostat on your hot water heater. The less it runs, the more energy you save.
- Install a programable thermostat like the iComfort thermostat. You can align your heating/cooling system with your schedule to conserve energy. You can now control many thermostats from your smartphone.
- Collect rainwater to water plants in your yard or house.
- Plant trees/bushes to create shade around your house and air conditioning unit. The plants help to keep the air around your house cooler in the Summer, cut down on cold wind in the Winter.
- Consider an air source heat pump. This type of unit transfers heat from the outside in and vice versa and generate fewer greenhouse gas emissions. They also provide higher air quality as there are no carbon monoxide emissions.
Well, that wasn’t too painful, was it? These are all simple steps we can take to help the environment as well as our wallets in the process. For the time being, Earth is the only planet we can call home. Let’s try to take care of it the best we can.