Making your home environmentally friendly doesn't have to mean installing expensive solar panels or undergoing major renovations. Eco-living expert Simran Sethi says simply swapping out some daily household items can help you save hundreds each year!
"Money is essential right now," Simran says. "We can make small changes in our lives that make good common sense. This isn't about green as some fancy trend—this is about green as a really common sense way to live." Saving money using LED bulbs.
LED Light Bulbs
Simran says lighting accounts for 11 percent of your energy bill, and there are now more money-saving bulbs on the market than ever. "The U.S. government passed legislation back in 2007 to phase out the incandescent bulb—the one we're traditionally used to using—because it's so inefficient," she says.
Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs
Also known as CF bulbs, Simran says these last 10 times longer than a regular bulb—and you can save as much as $5.40 per bulb per year. Their original squiggly shape is now shifting to a more traditional bulb to fit in more fixtures, Simran says. They can also be dimmed, come in colors and throw a softer glow. "You're looking for a yellow spectrum light, not the white one," she says. "That's not the light that you're looking for [at home]."
A new programmable thermostat may run you $40 to $70, but Simran says you'll start seeing lower energy bills immediately. "For every degree that you reduce your temperature, you're going to save about 1 percent of energy on your energy bill," she says. "I suggest keeping your thermostat around 68 degrees in the winter and around 78 degrees in the summer." Stop shivering under blankets today!
Stop shivering under a blanket every time the wind rattles through your windows. Simran says plugging those leaks with weather stripping is an easy project anyone can do. For an entire house, she says supplies will cost you $50 to $300. "So do it once and it's a great return on your investment." Curtain drapes and window shades have more uses beyond the decorative!
It's hip—and economical—to have shades! "You don't need to warm up your house on a sunny day if you're not at home, right? So keep the sun out," Simran says. "Or, of course, let the sun in if you want your house to be warmed in the wintertime." Buying a new television? Read this first.
If you're in the market for a new television, don't just look at the purchase price. Look at the set that will cost you less to use in long run. If you're looking at size, Simran says a smaller set will always be more energy efficient.
If you're torn between a plasma and an LCD, you should know that a 32-inch LCD costs $34 a year in energy, whereas a 42-inch plasma will run you about $70 a year. "And an Energy Star TV is going to be about 30 percent more energy efficient," she says. Get plugged in!
Smart Power Strip
Get a smart power strip to go along with that new TV, Simran says. They typically run about $10, and Simran says many models even come with remote controls that let you turn your appliances and lamps on and off—without moving a muscle. Installing a water aerator.
Simran says you can also make your kitchen more eco-friendly and cost efficient by making a few simple changes. The first product she recommends—a water aerator—will set you back just $2.
This will reduce the amount of water that comes out of your faucet, but Simran says it won't reduce the pressure. "[You can] save 1 to 5 gallons of water by putting something like this into your water faucet," she says. "Thirty-six states are going to face water shortages over the next five years. We've got to start conserving our water." What a water pitcher can do.
Energy Star Appliances
If you're ready to make a long-term investment, Simran suggests upgrading to Energy Star kitchen appliances. "We end up spending anywhere from $1,300 upward on our appliances in our house," she says. "You can save $800 a year on energy costs if you actually got efficient appliances."
Can't afford to replace your appliances? There are other ways to save water and energy. "When it comes to the dishwasher, don't use it to dry the dishes. Use it to wash the dishes," Simran says. "You don't need to prerinse anymore. They're really efficient now. That will save you $20 of water per cycle [per year]." Using cloth dishtowels.
Reusable Cloth Dishtowels
If you're constantly reaching for a paper towel, Simran says it's time to replace those rolls with cloth or microfiber towels. "There's so many small things that we can do," she says. Switch to eco-friendly cleaning supplies.
Eco-Friendly Cleaning Supplies
You should also consider replacing toxic cleaning solutions with an all-natural, homemade alternative. Using inexpensive items like lemons, vinegar, vegetable soap, water and baking soda, you can create an effective cleaner. Get the recipes!