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5 Ways Going Green at Home Can Leave More Green in Your Wallet

Earth Day isn’t the only day to think about going “green.” In fact, paying attention to ways you can conserve water and energy not only benefits our one and only planet, it can also result in lower household bills.

Better Water, Less Waste

Bottled water is convenient, but it’s expensive and those plastic bottles and their matching caps aren’t doing the planet any good either. You can install a faucet-mounted or inline water filter for about $30, but for really good tasting water you probably want to consider a reverse osmosis system. An under the sink model costs about $300, but even if you put in a whole house system, if you plan to be in your home at least another 5 years, you’d be saving about $200 a year over what the typical family of four spends on bottled water.

Clean Doesn’t Have to Cost so Much

The average family washes dishes and clothes almost every day. And those two tasks offer several opportunities to save cash and the planet. While washing dishes by hand might feel “righteous,” it uses almost twice the water and energy of washing the same dishes in a fully loaded dishwasher. And don’t waste water by rinsing before loading unless your dishwasher is an older model.

Front-loading washing machines use less than half the water traditionally used by a top loader for a full load, and many of them will handle larger laundry loads too. Plus, they require less detergent to get the job done. You can also save a buck for every four loads you wash on cold instead of using hot water.

Of course, using newer appliances with better energy ratings will pay off as well — for your pocket and the planet.

Light it Up for Less

Replacing your light bulbs with Energy Star-rated CFL bulbs can save you about $30 off your electric bill for each bulb over its lifetime because they use 75 percent less energy and last 10 times longer than standard bulbs. And installing dimmer switches (and using them) can also reduce your electricity usage.

If you really want to brighten your rooms and save cash over the long game, think about adding skylights or expanding your windows. If you choose energy efficient panels and have them properly installed, you won’t lose on the insulation factor, and you may find yourself being perfectly comfortable not turning on lights during the day at all.

Keep Your Cool, Save on Cash

Most of us have the best intentions of resetting the thermostat at night or while we’re out of the house during the day, but how often do we really remember to do it? Installing a programmable thermostat has been shown to reduce energy bills by $150 a year.

We don’t usually think about what is outside when we’re looking for ways to save on the comfort inside. But planting trees that shade the south and west sides of the house (and hopefully the air-conditioning unit as well) can save you money and extend the lifetime of your unit.

You Can Go Greener Outside Too

Speaking of the outside, think about adding a rain barrel or even a gray water system for keeping your landscaping watered during the dry months. And to have a lawn that requires less water, and less fertilizer as well, use a mulching mower instead of bagging your clippings. A good mulching mower will cut the pieces of grass into fine clippings that are easily broken down to release the nutrients back into the soil. These tiny particles also reduce evaporation of moisture from the lawn and keep the soil temperatures cooler. Plus, you won’t be paying to bag your clippings or adding them to landfills.

Whether you make a big change, or a few small ones, this is the perfect time to go green, and save some green for things you really want — like a kitchen remodel or the new deck and hot tub!

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