Sunday, April 26, 2009

5 Easy Tips to Save Money -- and Energy

Easy Tips to Save Money -- and Energy By Emily Listfield

You don’t have to choose between going green and saving green. Americans saved $19 billion on utility bills in 2008 and reduced greenhouse gases simply by purchasing appliances marked with the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Energy Star” seal of approval. And there are other surprising—a nd surprisingly easy—steps you can take. The following tips will lower both your bills and your carbon footprint.

1. Be Wise With Your Water “Reduce your lawn area by planting flowers, and you’ll lower your water bills,” says Sid Davis, author of Your Eco-Friendly Home. “Flowers need less hydration than grass. Putting in gravel or pathways also will do the trick.” Other ways to save water (and money) include turning off the faucet while brushing your teeth or shaving, taking shorter showers, and getting a good aerator for your faucet, which gives the illusion of using more water while actually using less. Look for the Environmental Protection Agency’s “WaterSense” label on faucets and showerheads.

2. Power Down and Go Out “My family takes a 30-minute energy break together,” says Los Angeles green crusader David Applebaum, who has designed homes for celebrities such as Diane Keaton and Cuba Gooding Jr. “We go through the house, turn off all the lights and appliances—including the heater or air conditioner—a nd unplug unnecessary things like phone chargers. Then we take a walk or go for a ride on our bikes. Along with adding extra family time, it gets everyone in the habit of turning things off before going out.” To start, Applebaum suggests making a checklist of appliances in your home that can be powered down before you leave.

3. Shop From Home Shopping online is a great way to compare prices. And now a study from Carnegie Mellon’s Green Design Institute says it may also be a good way to reduce your environmental impact. Researchers estimate that comparison-shopping online instead of driving from store to store could result in up to 35% less energy consumption and carbon-dioxide emissions. And with so many websites offering free shipping, you’ll save money, time, and gas. Now, if only there were a food court online, you’d be all set.

4. Be a Lawful Driver According to the U.S. Department of Energy, driving at the speed limit is not only safer—it’s also more energy-efficient. Every vehicle is different, but generally speaking, gas mileage decreases rapidly above 60 mph, meaning the faster you drive, the more fuel you use to get wherever you’re going. So while speeding might save you time, ultimately it’ll cost you at the pump. Experts estimate that you end up paying approximately 24 cents extra per gallon in gas for every five miles you drive above 60 mph. Obeying the law will help you and your dollar go farther. And, of course, there are the potential savings in fewer speeding tickets as well.

5. Get More Out of Your Spin Cycle “Switch from fluffy towels to towels made out of a cotton waffle weave,” suggests Barbara Flanagan, author of Flanagan’s Smart Home. “Fluffy towels take much longer in the dryer, which is one of the most expensive uses of energy. Waffle towels are thinner and will dry faster, so they save you money. They also exfoliate your skin when you dry off with them.” For even more energy and cash savings, remember to run your dryer only when it’s full.

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