Living Green in the Home While Saving Money

Many years ago in Florida, my wife won an essay contest in which the subject was reducing our impact on the environment. Her prize was a t-shirt that said, "RECYCLE or DIE". Whenever I think of the "green" movement, I always remember that t-shirt and what it means to me and my family.
Most green ideas around the home can be done with little out of pocket expenses and even save you money. Lower your thermostat. Adjusting your thermostat down by 5 degrees can save you around 5-10% of your energy bill. Put on a sweater, cover your feet. It is ridiculous to wear shorts and a t-shirt in the middle of winter. Change your lightbulbs from traditional to incandescent light bulbs. They last 5 times longer than a traditional bulb, and use less energy to operate. The initial cost of the new bulbs can lead to sticker shock if you compare them to the traditional bulb, but you will recoup your costs within 6 months. Your laundry room is a great place to conserve energy. Wash full loads only, use cold water (a good laundry detergent will clean clothes in ANY temperature), and use concentrated detergents. You can also purchase a wood drying rack for about $10. There are other models that can be priced up to $200. We own two $10 racks and use them daily. Drying your clothes on the rack reduces your gas or electric bill by up to 20% in most homes. Adding an outdoor clothesline reduces your bill even more! In the winter, you can use the drying racks every time you wash as long as you have the room in the laundry area or basement.
Recycle everything you can. This takes a little time and patience, but it is worth the effort. If your municipality does not recycle, you can almost always find a non-profit that does. In our area, the town does not recycle, BUT the methodist church recycles aluminum, plastic, and glass. They use the funds to offset church programs such as their pre-school program.Recycling isn't just about cans and bottles. Donate your old clothing to local non-profit thrift stores or pass on to a friend. Having a clothing swap with a group of friends is a great way to get "new" clothes, and spend an evening having fun! Look for items when you shop that have minimal packaging- less waste in the landfill. Shop local. This includes food, clothing (I am not saying boycott, but try not shopping at the big box stores), and incidentals. Reuse old items for new jobs. Take old towels and cut them into rags for cleaning. Do you have a large empty container? Don't throw it away, paint it, and use it as a great planter for your garden.
Stretch your food dollar by gardening. It can be done anywhere. Either on a 10 acre homestead or a patio at a small apartment. Container gardening is easy for tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, peppers. You can stretch it even further by canning any surplus you have. You can also dehydrate your veggies with a solar dryer or an electric dehydrator.
Turn off what you are not using. Turn off the light when you leave the room. Use surge protectors to control your electronics. You'd be surprised how many household electronics (TV, VCR, DVD players, computers, printers) use electricity even when they are turned off. Using the on/off button on the surge protector eliminates the passive electricity, thus lowering your electric bill. It doesn't seem like much, but it could add up to a yearly savings of $50.

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