Reducing your daily carbon footprint doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult.
Simple things like doing laundry in cold water, reducing your number of car trips, and avoiding bottled water can save you money and benefit the environment.
“If you care about the planet, think about how to align the way you live your life with your values,” says Jeff Perlman, president and founder of energy management service provider Bright Power.
Looking for a few more relatively easy changes to make? We’ve got you covered, below.
You can save up to 10% a year on your home heating and cooling bills by using a programmable thermostat, according to Energy.gov. Teaming smart technology with an app makes it even easier to control your home’s thermostat and lights in strategic ways to conserve energy, says Rob Parker, president of Pinewood Forest, the first large-scale geothermal community in the country.
It’s better for the environment and your wallet to refill a reusable water bottle, instead of regularly shelling out for bottled water. In general, we need 4 to 6 cups of water per day to avoid dehydration—meaning you’d need to buy 2 to 4 bottles of water a day. A 17-ounce water bottle would quickly pay for itself.
It’s often cheaper to buy something used that was originally expensive—and not everything you own needs to be thrown away, says Jim Mumford, owner and founder of Good Earth Plant company. Take a look at what you have around the house that you don’t use and see if you can sell or donate it. That way you’re decreasing the amount of waste and earning some money.
“Repair, refinish, repurpose,” says Mumford. “Keep good items…out of landfills.”
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The average driver spends 51 minutes behind the wheel per day and drives about 220 miles a week, according to a 2019 AAA study. When you can, consider alternatives like public transportation, ride-sharing, biking, or walking to get you where you need to go. A 2017 MIT study estimated that ride-sharing apps can help reduce congestion, pollution, and energy consumption. You could also save on gas and insurance costs, car wear, and time—although the price of your bus pass could more than offset those savings.
When you do use your car, try to consolidate your needs, like shopping for errands in one place or in one trip, says Parker.
Regularly cleaning your appliances can save you money by conserving energy. The biggest offender on appliances is often filters, says Perlman. For example, replacing a dirty or clogged air conditioner filter can improve efficiency by 5% to 15%, according to Energy.gov. But the government also points out that a clean stovetop will allow for more energy-efficient cooking, and removing lint from your clothes dryer will help it use less energy, too.
There is a huge push to go paperless. Some of the companies you do business with, including cellphone service providers and banks, may offer you discounts in exchange for receiving account statements electronically. For your own home printing needs, reducing what you print or opting for double-sided copies can cut back on your costs for paper and ink.
“If you can reduce your usage of your printer or copy machines, you’ll reduce your footprint significantly,” says Parker.