Sustainable living is becoming increasingly popular as we become more aware of the adverse affects our everyday lives have on the environment. Living more sustainably can not only help our environment, but also your wallet.
Curious on how to make your way to a more sustainable life? Check out these products and options that your wallet and environment will thank you for.
Everyday Ways To Save Money & The Planet
LED Light Bulbs
Switch all your household light bulbs to LED bulbs. They use about 75% less energy than traditional light bulbs and last about 35 times longer. This is because unlike traditional incandescent light bulbs that use a filament that glows and produces heat, LEDs use electrons that flow to create photons (light). Photons generate almost no heat.
The average American home contains about 40 light bulbs. Replacing all of them, assuming they are all incandescent, can save you about $600 a year. This offsets any extra costs acquired by purchasing the slightly more expensive LEDs.
Don’t forget to recycle used bulbs. Part of the bulb can be reused. Although its easy and not against the law to throw out LEDs, always recycle any product you can to help preserve the environment and continue your sustainable lifestyle. Click here to see where to recycle various light bulbs.
Smart Power Strips
Appliances and devices still consume energy even when not in use. They are referred to as “phantom loads” and add up quickly. Smart power strips are able to identify when a device is in standby mode and cut power to it. This saves you from having to unplug devices or remember to flip the switch on the power cord.
Some Smart Power Strips have a “monitored socket” and several “controlled sockets” that allow you to turn off power to the monitored socket and have the controlled sockets automatically cut off as well. For example, with a TV as the monitored socket and things such as the DVD player and game consoles as the controlled sockets, when the TV is off the strip will automatically have the DVD player and game consoles power turned off as well.
Smart Power Strips can save you up to $200 per year while saving energy.
Insulation and Windows
54% of your overall utility cost comes from heating and cooling your home. Poor insulation results in energy leaks that cost you money. Check your attics, floorboards, walls, and especially windows and doors. Good insulation reduces the cost of heating and cooling by about 40% and pays for itself within 5 to 6 years.
Windows and doors are easy to tell when there’s leakage. Use caulk and weather strips as well as insulated blinds to help prevent energy loss.
Some furnaces run on natural gas, propane, or heating oil and therefore add to the pollution of the earth when these substances are burned. None of these substances are reusable either. Consider switching to a sustainable heating source when looking into your insulation energy loss.
Reusable Water Bottles
Plastic water bottles start as oil. Each year the process of bottling water contributes to 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide pollution. About 38 billion plastic water bottles end up in U.S. landfills yearly. It takes about 700 years for these plastics to dissolve.
Plastic water bottles also have negative impacts on your health. Toxins from the plastic leach into your water and many different brands have tested high in levels of microplastics in their water.
Don’t use a plastic reusable bottle either. Toxins can still leach in from them as well. Opt for a glass or metal container.
It takes 400 years to decompose a plastic toothbrush. Like plastic water bottles and all plastic, plastic toothbrushes are made from oil. Every year in North America, over a billion toothbrushes end up in landfills. Electronic toothbrushes use batteries that leak acid into landfills as well. Using a biodegradable toothbrush such as a bamboo toothbrush is a more sustainable option.
Ear swabs are a single use product that lead to the presence of millions of them in oceans and landfills. A reusable ear swab helps mitigate this damage by allowing you to use the same swab over 1,000 times. Just wash with soap and water after each use.
27,000 trees a day get flushed down the toilet in the form of toilet paper. Recycled toilet paper made from newspaper takes less water and energy than making toilet paper from timber. Look here to see which brands are the most Eco-friendly.
Consider Sustainable Energy
Solar power is the conversion of sunlight into electricity. Solar energy does not directly contribute to pollution and can reduce or eliminate your electricity bill. The installation of solar panels also increases the value of your home making it worth it even if you plan on moving in the future. It also helps you gain control over rising energy costs. The cost of installing solar panels has dropped by 70% in the last decade while the cost of electricity continues to rise.
There are some disadvantages to take into consideration. Not all rooftops work with solar panels. You can use ground panels but may not want those in your yard. Upfront costs of installing solar panels can be intimidating as well. However, the panels will pay themselves off in time and there are solar financing options if you qualify for them.
Wind energy uses the wind to create power. Wind energy is completely renewable and clean. Operating costs are relatively low and the land used to for the turbines can be used for other purposes as well, like farming. Mini wind turbines are available for individual households.
Disadvantages to wind energy is the visual and noise pollution. They can also be harmful to species that fly into them and are very dependent on the weather.
Hydropower uses water to create electricity. It is a clean and renewable source for energy. Hydroelectric power pairs well with wind and solar power because it is not completely reliant on the weather or time of day. When its night time and the wind has stopped blowing, hydropower can still produce electricity 24/7.
Microhydropower systems are a smaller version available for household use. If you have water flowing through your property, you may want to consider this renewable alternative.
Disadvantages include the adverse effects to the surrounding environment in terms of wildlife displacement and disruption of migration paths. They are also expensive to build up front and rely on weather somewhat in terms of droughts.
Geothermal Heating & Cooling
Geothermal systems work by exchanging heat with the ground. They have a long lifespan and require minimal maintenance. The systems have low operating costs and add to your homes value with no equipment in plain sight. Geothermal systems produce 75% to 85% less carbon dioxide emissions than gas and oil produces making them not only a safer alternative, but a more sustainable one.
Traditional heating can result in carbon monoxide leaks. Geothermal systems do not use combustion, and therefore have zero risk of this happening.
Disadvantages include the high upfront costs. These can be mitigated by financial incentives for adopting a renewable energy though.
Another disadvantage is that the systems still use electricity. This is why it is good to pair them with a sustainable energy source listed above.
Like this post? Check out my post on Top 5 Money Moves For College Graduates.
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