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7 Eco-Friendly Changes You Can Make to Save Energy and Money

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Image by Wonderlane via Flickr Creative Commons license.

While it’s going to take some major changes on a global scale to have a significant impact on the environment, it is often the smaller changes we make that get the ball rolling. If you’re looking to make some eco-friendly changes in your life, particularly those which could help you save energy and save money at the same time, you’ve come to the right place. These changes are easy to implement and are beneficial to both you and the environment.

1. Adjust your thermostat to an eco-friendly setting

Set your thermostat at 78 degrees Fahrenheit during the summer months. Then when you are away from home, you can turn your thermostat higher to prevent your fan orair conditioning from turning on while you aren’t there.  You might also want to consider getting a Nest thermostat or other type of programmable thermostat to help you monitor your energy usage and program in greener habits. We just got one in our apartment and love it.

2. Use natural means to help cool down (or heat up) your home

During the summer months, try opening up your home in the morning to get some fresh, cool air circulating through before it gets too hot. Although this is not always possible, depending on where you live, it is an eco-friendly change you can make to help you save some energy. Keep your blinds closed once the sun comes up though to prevent your home from heating up too much.

When it’s wintertime, you can keep the doors and windows closed (to prevent the heat from escaping), but try opening the blinds during the day to let in some natural light. This can help save energy midday as you won’t need to turn lights on in the house.

3. Use major appliances only during “off hours”

Choose to do your laundry or wash the dishes either in the early morning hours or late at night. Where we live, peak hours are between 4pm and 9pm. This is the time window when the electric company charges us the most and asks us to use the least amount of energy. During these hours we try to avoid using major appliances, try to focus on not leaving any lights on unnecessarily and resist the desire to turn on the A/C. Even cooking outdoors on the grill can help you save money and prevent your house heating up too much from using the oven to make dinner.

4. Unplug electronics, applicances and chargers not in use

In all honesty, there is no reason you should leave electronics, appliances and chargers plugged in when not in use. Now I’m not talking about unplugging your refrigerator or anything. I’m simply saying unplug the blender after you’ve used it. If you use a power strip, turn it off when your electronics are fully charged. Getting in the practice of unplugging can actually save you quite a bit of energy and money. Vampire energy and phantom power can be more significant than you may realize. Test it out. Go around your house and unplug anything not in use. Do this regularly and see the difference it makes.

5. Adjust the temperature on your water heater

During the hotter months of the year you may notice the water, in your sink, shower and tub, gets hotter faster than usual. While this is generally due to the increased temperatures outside, most people don’t want to take hot showers when it’s already hot outside. One of the simplest changes you can make is adjusting the temperature on your water heater so it doesn’t get too hot. This means when you do use hot water, like while doing the dishes, it won’t take as much energy to heat up the water. Laundry can be done on a cold setting, so you won’t even need to worry about hot water there.

6. Replace traditional incandescent light bulbs with eco-friendly alternatives

Replacing any traditional incandescent light bulbs with more eco-friendly alternatives can help you save quite a bit of energy. It’s crazy but more than 75% of the energy these types of bulbs give off is in the form of heat instead of light. Compact flourescent lights (CFLs) and LEDs are considered to be much better for the environment. They generally run cooler so emit less heat, are more energy-efficient and last longer. You’ll buy fewer bulbs in the long run and save money overall.

7. Identify and seal any air leaks in your home

It doesn’t matter whether it’s summer or winter, if you have air leaking through windows, under doors or getting in/out through any other means, you are losing money. Take the time to inspect your home, identify any air leaks and seal them up. This isn’t a costly project…sometimes a little caulk will do the trick. It is a vital project though as it could save you up to 30% on your energy bill depending on how many leaks you have.

Making these seven changes in your home is one of the easiest ways to save money and energy at home. You can even make some of these same changes at the office. I know it’s just a start, but it does make a difference.

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