Go Green, Save Money!

May 6, 2008

COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM)-- From energy efficient appliances to organic groceries, you've probably heard several "green" tips before.  But, here are some that consumers can actually use and save some money in the process.

#9--Kick the Habit

It's estimated that Americans spent more than $15 billion dollars on bottled water in 2006. Experts say if you kicked the habit of buying one bottle a day, you could save up to $500 a year.

#8--Invest in Energy/Water Efficient Appliances

Experts say when it comes to your water bill, you're flushing money right down the toilet.  According to water works officials, 40% of indoor water usage comes from the toilet. Newer, water efficient commodes uses less water.  With the exception of the initial expense, experts say just by adding that and maybe a low-flow shower head, you could save $72 a year just in the bathroom.

These are just a few examples many energy efficient appliances available to homeowners these days.

"Today's appliances that are rated energy star use less than half sometimes a third of the power of models that are about 15 years old," says Jem Morris of Georgia Power.

But you can't talk about the appliances in your house without addressing exactly how energy is used around your house.

#7--Tackle Your Heating and Cooling

"Typically, about 70% of a homeowner's energy usage goes to their heating and cooling bill, and their water heating bill, so those are the places you can make the biggest bang for the buck," adds Morris.

How do you do it?

Officials with the Department of Energy say adjusting your thermostat by three degrees year-round could save $114 each year.

Lower the temperature of your water heater and wrap it in a blanket.

If you can afford it, add insulation.  If not, consider cheaper products like sealant and weather stripping.  That could save up to 20% on utility bills.

Another inexpensive tip, take an athletic sock and fill it up with pebbles, place that at the base of your window. That helps to keep warm air in and cold air out during the winter time, especially in an older home.

#6--Think Green When You Clean

This doesn't mean you have to go out and buy fancy new, products.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average US household spends an estimated $600 a year on cleaning products.

So instead, experts suggest using what's around the house.

Old-fashioned items like baking soda, salt, club soda and vinegar make great cleaning products and some are as cheap as .99 a piece.

Now, from the inside to the outside.

#5--Consider Switching From a Gas To An Electric Lawnmower

Experts say besides being a pollutant, we spill a staggering 17 million gallons of gasoline while re-fueling them.

Electric mowers are clean and quiet and only take about $5 a year to run.

#4--Plant it Yourself

Rising food costs may also encourage some folks to get in touch with nature, and it can pay off.

The average price of tomatoes is more than $2.00 a pound these days.  A pack of seeds, as low as .99.  One novice gardener tells us a few small plants can yield up to 20 tomatoes a season.

Consumers may also want to consider planting a tree.  They provide shade and keep your home naturally cooler.  Plus, experts say such smart, landscaping can save between $150 and $250 a year on energy bills.

#3--Cut Back on Paper

Speaking of trees...do you know how much paper is wasted on a daily basis?

One government report shows the average American office worker uses about 10,000 sheets of paper every year! It's estimated you could save .06 for every sheet of paper you don't buy.

Some green advocates also suggest cutting back on the use of paper towels.  The average 8-pack runs between $6.00 and $8.00.  If your family goes through that in a month, that's $96 a year.

#2--Consider Re-Usable...Rather Than Disposable

Another item that creates lots of waste is diapers.  According to the National Association of Diaper Services, 18 billion disposable diapers and thrown into landfills each year.  Plus, they're quite costly for parents. The agency estimates for the the first two years of life, parents can spend more than $4000 on single-use diapers.

They advocate switching to cloth, which can be laundered and used again.

Another re-usable that's recently hit the market is re-usable feminine products.  They provide an alternative to costly, disposable feminine products that women often buy on a monthly basis.

#1--Buy Yours Used and Get Rid of What You're Not Using!

Finally, when it comes to re-usable and recycled items, most folks probably don't consider the larger items around their house.  There's now big market for what's called green furniture.  But something even better and cheaper, is used furniture!

When you have to replace something, consider buying used furniture first.  It stretches both your dollar and the life of an existing product.

"When people buy furniture, they think outside the box as well, when you use used furniture, you can change the color, but you still have the good structure underneath," says Lisa Satlof of Finds and Consign.

Experts say consumers could save even more by downsizing overall.  Census bureau statistics show that 30 years ago, the average size of a house was 1750 square feet.  These days, its more like 2500.

Think about it...the more space you have, the more stuff you have...and the more money you pay to keep it up.