How can we save more money without significantly changing our lifestyle? The answer may surprise you. Making energy-efficient improvements to your home and the way you choose to use your resources is much simpler than you may be anticipating. In fact, once you start living sustainably, you'll have a hard time imagining how you did it any other way. Here are five major ways to cut your costs while boosting your overall energy efficiency.
Insulate Your Home: Studies have shown that adding insulation to the walls and windows of your home can prevent energy loss an average of 35%. This means that instead of paying to heat the entire neighborhood, you'll only be heating your own home, and doing so far more efficiently. Many insulation companies have become exceedingly adept at insulating existing wall and window structures at a relatively inexpensive rate, especially compared with the hundreds of dollars you'll save in just one winter. Meanwhile, adding another pane of glass to your windows will not only improve your insulation, but make your house safer and more secure.
Save Gas: No matter who you are, gas prices always seem to be far higher than they should be. While many of us enjoy having our own vehicle so that we can go wherever we need to on our schedule, the truth is that a little planning can save a tremendous amount of money on gas each month. Instead of launching yourself out of the house without a clear plan of action, try to group your trips so that you don't drive all over town. This is especially handy for running errands. If you start grouping your trips so that you park in one neighborhood or area of your city whenever you are doing errands, you'll not only save yourself time, but you'll start saving tremendous amounts of money on gas. Remember, the amount of gas your car uses is also based on how smoothly your trips go. If you drive during heavily trafficked hours or on exceptionally busy streets, the stop-and-go nature of the traffic can decrease your car's overall efficiency. Try to plan your trips for off-peak hours if possible, and take lesser-known routes.
Recycle: Recycling has an immediate and obvious financial benefit in the form of remuneration for any plastic or glass containers you turn in at your local recycling center. However, recycling has hidden financial benefits as well. By buying only those products which can be recycled, and buying them in quantities which make better use of packaging, you'll start to save money on each purchase. In essence, a 24-pack of bottled water is a waste. A 2.5 gallon container of water, which can be recycled, is both cheaper in terms of liquid per ounce and also is worth more at the recyclers. Plus, pennies saved per liquid ounce add up quickly!
Use Energy-Efficient Fixtures, Including Lightbulbs: LED lighting is surprisingly efficient, which means you change the bulbs far less frequently and also enjoy much longer lifespans for each lightbulb purchased. This is great not only for the savings from the bulbs themselves, but also for your overall electricity bill.
Don't Pay to Heat/Cool an Empty House: It may seem obvious, but so many people neglect to turn off their heating and cooling before they leave their house for extended periods of time. By only using your heating when you need it, you'll keep your energy costs much lower, enabling you to truly enjoy your home without worrying how much it is costing you!
- Mike Thomas is a general contractor, full-time dad, and part-time writer for Home Warranty Deals.