Father and daughter use thermostat to lower temperature
Financial Literacy

Key takeaways

  • Even when devices are not in use, they might consume standby power if they are plugged in. This accounts for 5% to 10% of residential energy use in the U.S.
  • Buy plants for your home and garden that are drought-resistant and therefore require less water for survival.
  • You could save money and natural resources by renting equipment that you might use only a few times during your life.

Many people are thinking about their carbon footprint and creating a more sustainable lifestyle. At the same time, we look at our finances and wonder how to be eco-friendly on a budget.

Did you know that making green decisions could help you save money? In this article, we’ll show you easy, budget-friendly tips that could become part of your eco-friendly lifestyle.

Energy conservation

One of the most important things to consider when working to reduce your carbon footprint is your energy consumption. Let’s look at some simple ways to reduce your energy consumption at home and help reduce carbon emissions and greenhouse gasses.

  • Unplug electronics when not in use. An easy way to cut electricity usage is to unplug electronics like your toaster, coffee maker, TV, hair dryer, and phone chargers. Devices use standby power, which, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, accounts for 5% to 10% of residential energy use, and could cost the average U.S. household as much as $100 a year. For gear that plugs into hard-to-reach outlets, use power strips to improve access.
  • Use energy-efficient light bulbs. Like a brightly lit home? Pop energy-efficient bulbs into all your light fixtures. Energy-efficient LED light bulbs come in a range of styles, brightness, and even smart capabilities. 
  • Skip the oven. Making meals at home is a great way to save money. And part of going green on a budget is using a microwave or air fryer for smaller meals to conserve energy.
  • Adjust the blinds. You can boost your energy efficiency during the day simply by turning off the lights and adjusting your blinds. Let the sunshine illuminate your workday instead of electricity.
  • Paperless billing. Choose paperless billing for your utility bills, rent, credit card statements, and more to reduce clutter and use less energy in the long run. While you’re at it, cut back on junk mail by calling companies’ 800 numbers and telling them to stop sending catalogs. The Federal Trade Commission offers more advice on how to stop junk mail.

Ways to reduce energy costs

If you like the idea of saving money on your utility bills, try some of these hacks.

  • Use a programmable thermostat. Switching to a programmable thermostat could save you time and money in the long run. You set the thermostat so that your HVAC system keeps your home comfortable while you’re there and active, but runs less when you are at work or asleep. 
  • Seal air leaks. Are you noticing that the temperature in your home is difficult to regulate, causing high electricity bills? You may have air leaks. Check your doors and windows for drafts, taking a bit of time to caulk and weatherstrip them properly. Make sure to caulk and seal air leaks where plumbing, ductwork, and electrical wiring comes through walls, floors, and ceilings. You can even hire an energy assessor or other weatherization expert to test your home for air tightness.
  • Rechargeable batteries. Invest in basic rechargeable batteries instead of constantly throwing out and replacing traditional ones. While more expensive upfront, this easy switch could save you money in the long run.
  • Hang-dry your laundry. An easy way to save money is by not running your dryer. Instead, use a foldable drying rack or even an outdoor clothesline in good weather to dry your clothes without expensive electricity.

Water conservation

Don’t overlook natural resources like water when trying to be more environmentally friendly at home. Check out these tips and tricks to reduce your water consumption.

  • Fix leaks. Leaky faucets are a common cause of excessive water usage. Check your tubs and sinks for any leaks, making sure to tighten them or replace faulty washers to stop the dripping.
  • Install low-flow shower heads and faucets. Low-flow shower heads and faucets in your home reduce water consumption while showering or washing your hands. Consider taking shorter showers as well. Before you know it, your water usage and water bill could be significantly lower.
  • Collect rainwater. Reusing rainwater is a great way to save money and be eco-friendly. Collect rainwater in partially covered large barrels or tubs to use for everything from watering your garden to washing your car.
  • Plant drought-resistant plants. Speaking of gardening, purchase plants for your garden that are drought-resistant and therefore require less water for survival. This way, you could have a thriving garden without excessive water use.  

Shopping and consuming

Some of our daily habits cause us to spend more money than we need to and a harmful environmental impact. Check out these easy tips for reducing waste and consumption when shopping.

Buy products with minimal packaging

Your produce doesn’t need to be layered in plastic. Try to buy items made with recycled packing materials, or even no packaging, to reduce waste. Choose your products wisely and look for items made from sustainable and locally sourced materials.

Reduce, reuse, recycle

We all know the three R’s of eco-conscious living, but today it’s easier than ever to make them a reality. When grocery shopping, place your produce in reusable vegetable bags instead of plastic bags at the store. When it’s time to check out, skip the paper or plastic bags from the store and use your own canvas bags.

Instead of one-use plastic bottled water, switch to a reusable metal water bottle that can be refilled with tap water. Not only is this more cost-effective in the long run, but it greatly reduces your plastic consumption.

You can also save your leftovers with reusable and sustainable beeswax film instead of one-use plastic wrap. Reusable plastic baggies are another alternative—just wash and hang dry them between uses.

Support local farmers

Buying fresh, in-season produce at your local farmer’s market is often cheaper than in big-box stores. Plus, shopping locally could make a huge difference in reducing your carbon footprint.

Check out Local Harvest and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) to find farms near you.

Eco-cleaning products

Make your own cleaning products with a few simple and natural ingredients, like baking soda and vinegar. This could help you avoid exposure to harmful chemicals. You can also buy eco-friendly cleaning products from most stores. Additionally, skip the paper towels in favor of reusable cleaning cloths to reduce waste.

Buy secondhand and rent

Thrift stores, consignment shops, and online options like Facebook marketplace or ThreadUp are great places to buy second-hand items. Often, you can find like-new clothing or home items for a fraction of their retail price. Plus, you’re giving new life to something that might otherwise be discarded.

In the same vein, rent equipment and other items that you might use only once or twice in your life. It costs less money and uses fewer natural resources than it takes to manufacture new items.

Reusable bottles and containers

If you store cleaning, beauty, and skincare products in plastic bottles, consider switching to reusable glass alternatives. Also, there’s no need to be “Pinterest worthy” with new Mason jars; you can reuse containers you already have, like jam and pickle jars.

Plan meals and make a grocery list

Don’t grocery shop without a list and a plan. Make a meal plan for the week and create a shopping list based on what you already have and what you need. Focus on groceries that can be used in multiple items throughout the week to reduce food waste.

Clearly, it’s not only possible to have an eco-friendly lifestyle on a budget, it’s helpful. Being more energy efficient could help you become more financially efficient. These tips could make a big difference to your wallet, and to the planet.

This article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to provide financial, tax or legal advice. You should consult a professional for specific advice. Best Egg is not responsible for the information contained in third-party sites cited or hyperlinked in this article. Best Egg is not responsible for, and does not provide or endorse third party products, services or other third-party content.

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