Saving money and going green are both hot topics right now. So, I'm sure you've already heard the tips to turn off water while brushing your teeth, turn off TVs and computers and swap out old light bulbs for the new energy-saving versions.
Here are 10 new ideas to help you save money and make your Santa Cruz home greener.
1. Swap stuff. There are hundreds of online sites where you can get furniture, books, CDs, DVDs and even a place to stay for free by swapping stuff with other people. And, I'm not just talking about Craigslist. Two of the most popular and easy to use swap sites are Paperbackswap.com and SwapaDVD.com.
2. Recycle your cell phone. According to the EPA, if the 100 million cell phones no longer being used by Americans were recycled, enough energy would be saved to power more than 18,500 homes for a year. Give your cell phone back to its manufacturer or donate your cell phone to charity.
3. Recycle other electronics. Keep old TVs out of landfills by taking them to a safe e-cycling facility. Return iPods to Apple for recycling or sell them for parts. Take e-waste to stores like Best Buy and Staples that have recycling programs. You'll save money by not having to pay to dispose of the electronics.
4. Wait until May to buy a new TV. New government standards take effect May 1, 2010. Energy Star-labeled televisions will be at least 40% more efficient than comparable models -- a significant savings.
5. Eat foods that are in season. It's healthier, less expensive and better for the environment. Oh, and one more big plus: the food tastes so much better!
6. Install a water filter. Bottled water isn't any healthier than tap water, and all that plastic waste is terrible for the environment. It's also expensive! If you use a water filter in your home, you can get great-tasting, clean water while reducing your waste and saving money.
7. Turn down your water heater. You won’t notice the temperature change, but your water heater won’t work as hard and won’t use as much energy.
8. Plant a vegetable garden. If you don’t have the space to plant a garden, plant a tree or put some plants outside. Find vegetables and plants that grow well in your area for the best results. Ask your local garden center for that information.
9. Use green cleaners. There’s no reason to use harsh chemicals to clean your home. Use biodegradable cleaners that are safe for the environment or make your own green cleaners. Use old towels and T-shirts instead of disposable wipes and paper towels to cut down on waste and save you money.
10. Check your insulation. Adding insulation to your home will cost money initially, but you'll quickly earn it back plus more by saving long term on your heating and cooling bills. Skeptical? Start out by insulating your attic and keeping track of your energy savings. It averages out to about $116 a year in savings.
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