Often, the decision to go green comes down to cost. When trying to go green, we have to adjust our mindsets to look long term, and reasonably assess what will be right for us right now and down the road. Done right, going green can make sense financially. Here are some tips on how you can start the process of making your home or workspace green. Look at your budget and make a plan Know what is important to you. While the initial expense of green materials may be a little higher, the overall energy efficiency of your decisions can pay off in the long run. You can even qualify for special tax write offs because of your use of energy efficient appliances and materials. Most energy saving products like light bulbs, low flow shower heads, appliances and ceiling fans are labeled with approximate cost savings right on the packages. For larger projects and larger overall savings, things like attic and wall insulation, as well as energy efficient windows, will significantly lower your energy bills. Service companies, and a variety of free online calculators can also help you calculate your budget savings. For everyone, with or without a budget for upgrades, significant savings can come simply from good habits. Remembering things like turning off lights, shutting down computers, washing with full laundry and dishwasher loads, changing filters, taking shorter showers and being mindful of gas consumption can help you save the dollars that count. Start small and stay committed With the best intentions I go to the store to buy the energy-efficient light bulbs for my home when the old bulbs burn out, but when I get to the light bulb aisle, I am flooded with an overwhelming number of choices, and many of the energy-efficient options tend to be more expensive. I am tempted to grab the old incandescent bulbs I am used to. However, I pause to remember how frequently I used to change light bulbs and how frustrating it is trying to find the time to pick up new ones. In a short comparison, while incandescent bulbs are usually cheaper, they usually only last, at most, a year, and will increase your energy bill by about $7 each month. An LED bulb on the other hand is slightly higher in price, but will save about 87 percent of energy compared to an incandescent light bulb, an estimated $1.14 per year and lasts around 20 years. You will be making money on that bulb after 12years, and cutting down on your electricity bill until then, rather than paying upward of $100 each year for incandescent bulbs and energy associated with using them. While the costs are an estimate, the savings are clear. It’s about starting small with your home or your business and making the choices that you can live with. Small steps you can take in your home or in your office It’s likely that some of you already do these things, but sometimes it’s just good to know that you are making a difference.
- Turn off your computers at night You can save around $90 per year, per computer, by turning it off during the 16 off hours between 5 p.m. and 9 a.m. on a normal workday.
- Use both sides of the paper American businesses throw away 21 million tons of paper every year, which adds up to 175 pounds per office worker. For a quick and easy way to halve this, set your printer’s default option to print double-sided (duplex printing). And when you’re finished with your documents, don’t forget to take them to the recycling bin.
- Rethink bottled water On average, we drink around 222 bottles of water a year, that’s about four a week. With bottled water costing around $2 we are spending roughly $440 on bottled water each year as opposed to tap water, which costs less than one cent per gallon. By using a reusable container for drinking water, you can make a great choice for the environment and your wallet.
- Get some use out of your coffee mugs All together, we throw away roughly 900 million pounds of disposable coffee cups each year. Try using your favorite travel mug every morning instead of a paper cup, which cuts down on waste and keeps your beverage hot much longer. Most coffee shops will happily fill your reusable cup and many even offer you a discount in exchange! If you save 10 cents on a cup of coffee, five times a week for a year, you will have saved around $26.
- Use your cruise control and batch your errands When using cruise control, your vehicle could get up to 10 percent better mileage. Considering today’s gasoline prices, this is a benefit not only for the environment, but your budget as well. Feel like you spend your whole week trying to catch up with the errands? Take a few moments once a week to make a list of all the errands that need to get done, and see if you can batch them into one trip. These will save you time and gas for multiple trips.
- Cut down on junk mail, switch to eStatements and pay your bills online There are many services that can help reduce the clutter in your mailbox, save trees and preserve precious space on your countertops. Paying bills online not only saves you the cost of a stamp, but also a trip to the post office.
Sarah Bohan is the Vice President Corporate Relations at MSU Federal Credit Union. MSUFCU's headquarters are at 3777 West Road East Lansing, MI 48823. Contact Sarah at firstname.lastname@example.org or (517) 333-2208.