When I made the decision, really made the decision, to adopt a greener lifestyle, I had people say to me “I’d love to go green but I can’t afford it.”  Have you ever said that?  Thought that?  If so, I will refrain from telling you what I said in return.

The point is that if you think about it, being green is actually cheaper.  Don’t believe me?  Let’s break it down by category:

The Home

Home is where the heart is.  And that energy sucking air conditioner and furnace you own.  The best bet is to make sure you buy a modern, energy efficient unit in the first place.  You may pay a little more up front, but you will save so much money over the life span of the unit that it will more than make up for it.  But what if you have an older unit that you can’t afford to replace?

Your furnace will run so much better if the filters are cleaned or exchanged on a regular basis.  Some people cut this corner because they don’t want to purchase new filters, but this only creates higher energy costs because the unit has to work harder.   It boggles my mind how people will spend money on extremely unnecessary items, but balk at the cost of filters.

In warmer weather, the same idea applies to air conditioners.  Make sure that the filters are always cleaned or buy new ones.  You will have better results and the unit will last longer.  If you have a central air conditioning unit, be sure that there are no leaves or debris surrounding it.  In the spring, we get little pieces of cotton from the cottonwood trees and have to periodically hose the unit down.  Also, shield the unit from direct sunlight if possible.  This will also help it run more efficiently.

Check the caulking around windows and doors of your home.  If caulk is cracked or broken, this could be allowing outdoor air into your home, which will cause your furnace or air conditioner to run more often, thus costing you more money.  Caulk is not free, of course, but it’s not expensive either.

Look for Energy Star appliances.  Keep your refrigerator and freezer clean, both inside and out.  Make sure your water temperature is at a warm enough setting for showers and to wash dishes, but keep it low enough for energy efficiency.  Only run the dishwasher when absolutely necessary and when it’s full.  Do the same thing with your washer and dryer.  Don’t overfill them, but only run them when you have a full load.  Otherwise, you are quite literally throwing money down the drain.

Buy energy efficient light bulbs for the whole house.  My husband about had a fit when he heard I wanted to replace them all.  So I bought a WHOLE bunch of them and only used them to replace the only one as they burned out.  Eventually, they all got replaced and guess what?  He noticed that we rarely ever have to buy light bulbs.  Less energy used, more money in his wallet.

Food

Instead of allowing your kids to eat the school lunch, which is so unhealthy anyway, resolve to pack your children’s lunch instead.  Mom and dad should agree to take a lunch as well.  It’s better for you and you save money in the long run.  Make sure that you use washable, reusable containers rather than paper bags or plastic sandwich bags.

Instead of buying individual cuts of chicken, buy the whole chicken instead.  You can stretch that by having roasted chicken one night, making chicken fajitas or stir fry another night, and using what’s left to make a chicken stock for soup.  This can be done with a variety of meats.

Grown your own vegetables.  This is a great way to be green and healthy, do a family project, and save money.  Extra vegetables can be used in soups, casseroles, salsa, etc.  Or give them to family, friends and neighbors.  One of our local churches sponsors an organic co-op.  The more people that come together to purchase vegetables, fruits and eggs, the lower the prices we all pay.

When we eat processed foods, we are damaging the environment due to pesticides, the energy required to transport the foods, and the energy used to refrigerate it.  Fresh, local and organic is always the best option.  And processed foods, besides being void of nutrition, are incredibly expensive.

Travel

When I was a kid, we ALL walked or rode our bikes to school.  The only kids that rode a school bus were the kids who lived out in the country.  We were fit without realizing it and we had so much fun with each other.  Plus, we were able to burn off some steam before we got home, which I’m sure made my mom quite happy.  Today, for a variety of reasons kids riding to school in cars or school buses is the norm.

If you live close enough to school, your children should be walking or riding bikes.  If you are afraid to allow them to go alone, why not go with them?  This helps you to get some exercise and it’s much cheaper and better for the environment.

If you can run errands by walking or riding a bike, that is the better bet as well.  I did a post not too long ago about using my green bag, my backpack, and my bike to run errands around town.  If you have too many things to carry or live too far away from where you need to go, at least schedule your errands so that you can get everything done in one trip.

And of course, if at all possible, drive an energy efficient vehicle.  There are even tax advantages associated with energy efficient vehicles, which is another great way to recoup some money.  But what if you can’t afford to go buy a new smart car?  Take care of what you have.

Make sure your tires are aired up to the proper weight, make sure that all of your hoses and connections are sealed, and keep your fluids at the right level.  When your car runs better, it’s more fuel efficient.  This saves the environment and saves you money.

There are MANY more things you can do (concentrated products, repurposing what you have around the house, shopping thrift shops and garage sales) but this is a sampling of items that the average family could handle right now.  It takes a little planning and organization, but the savings can really add up.  It’s about going green and saving some green, and extra cash is a good thing!  So it’s really not about whether or not you can afford to go green.  Because the truth is, you can’t afford not to!

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Tags: cheap, environment, food, frugal, green, home, money, saving, travel

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