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Living Green on a Budget (page 1 of 2)

Find practical tips for going green on a limited budget; how to reduce your energy consumption and lower your utility bills.

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Go green and save money at the same time you say? Some say this is impossible, however there are ways to go green on a tight budget.

During the Great Depression people had to learn to be creative and discover ways to reuse things and get the most out of their money. It is unfortunate that it sometimes take hard times to get people thinking about ways to save money, but it is the smart person who looks at these times as opportunities to become more eco-friendly while saving money. You don't have to say that you are riding the bus because gas is too expensive; say you are trying out some environmentally friendly alternatives. We will look at some practical ways to save your hard earned dollars, recycle, reuse, and reduce to become an environmentalist trendsetter.

Now I am not suggesting that you go out and replace every appliance, light bulb, light fixture, etc. in your home, however if you find that it is time to replace something consider the energy saving options that are available. In the long run you will notice a considerable savings in your utility bill. Let's take a look at where energy is used most in a home. The largest portion of your energy is generally used in cooling or heating your home, approximately 60 percent. An average of 15 percent of energy is used in heating water;  13 percent in running refrigerators; 12 percent is used on everything else (such as TVs, lights, washer, dryer, cooking).

Reduce

• Turn off lights when you leave a room.

• Many appliances use energy even when they're not "on". Consider unplugging or using a power strip to turn off when these appliances are not in use: televisions, VCR/DVD, stereos, computers, coffee pot and cell phone charges.

Turn your water heater off when not in use. If you are in need of a new water heater, check into the tankless versions, they can save bundles of money.

• Shorten your shower time; take showers instead of baths.

• Wash clothes on the cold setting, and only wash when you have a full load. Hand washing is still an option for a few items at a time.

• Put up a clothesline outside, it does not use any energy and your clothes will smell like sunshine. (Use liquid fabric softener in the wash and your clothes will not be stiff). When using the dryer, clean the vent after each use.

• Set your thermostat to 78 degrees in the summer and 68 degrees in the winter. This will be an enormous savings. Keep the fan on "auto" instead of "on". Use a fireplace in the winter; in the spring and fall, open windows, air out the house and turn the thermostat "off". (Replacing older thermostat with a programmable one can significantly add to your savings). When away from home, either for work or on vacation, go a little higher in the summer and lower in the winter to see additional savings.

• In the summer close blinds and drapes to help keep your home cool and open them in the winter to let more sun in to help heat your home. Keep doors and windows closed while air conditioner is running.

• Use ceiling fans, this keeps the air circulating making it easier to heat and cool.

• Use your oven less and the microwave more, it uses less energy and does not heat up the kitchen.

Re-use

• Shop the second-hand stores, thrift stores, flea markets, yard/garage sales for everything from clothing to furniture to household items. You may also consider sending your gently used items to these locations for others to use and make a few bucks.  You may find a good sturdy sofa that has some stains or wear and tear; give it a second life with a slipcover. Or you may find the ideal kitchen dinette set at a yard sale that just needs re-finishing. These locations are also great places to look for linens, books, children's toys, tools and much more. Before you run down to Wal-Mart ask yourself can you get that item for much less at one of these second-hand stores.

Here are some suggestions that you can use reusable items as opposed to disposable one:

• sponges or rags vs. paper towels

• reusable razors vs. disposable shavers

• coffee mugs vs. paper or plastic cups

• washable plates vs. paper

• cloth napkins vs. paper

• cloth diapers vs. disposable

Before you toss that newspaper in the recycle bin (or God forbid the trash!) have you gotton all the use out of you can?
Newspaper is handy for much more than reading, here are a few useful tips:

• Use in your garden under mulch to discourage weeds. Do not use the glossy paper.

• Use comics for wrapping paper

• Use for packing breakables

• Cleaning glass instead of paper towels

• Line litter box or birdcage

• Drop cloth for painting

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