Going green is not a costly venture

Money is tight these days, so it would stand to reason that most people would be anxious to embrace lifestyle changes that cut costs, such as incorporating “green” appliances and other devices in their homes to save energy. But many fear that going green can carry a high price tag, which is true in some cases. If you own an older home, “green” upgrades could call for an initial upfront cost that doesn’t fit in the budget.

The practical approach would be to consider those eco-conscious ideas that don’t cost much money and start to reap the benefit to your wallet and family budget immediately. How about something as simple as installing dimmer switches, especially if you haven’t made the switch away from incandescent light bulbs. Dimmer switches, which don’t cost much more than $10, will extend the life of your light bulbs and trim energy costs.

Outdoor lighting fixtures that use motion sensors obviously save energy costs. Likewise, sensors are a good idea in places where we tend to leave lights on and forget about them, in our basements and guest rooms.

The programmable thermostat is another item that has been around for years and has proven to save as much as $200 a year off heating and air-conditioning expenses. For about $50, it pays for itself after just a few months.

How many of us have an insulating blanket on our hot water heaters? The U. S. Dept. of Energy reports that having this item, which costs about $20, can lower water-heating costs by nearly 10 percent.

But what do you pay to heat your water? A good way to find out is by adding a $15 plug-load monitor, which can go into any outlet in which you plug in an appliance. The monitor provides information about how much power is being used out of that appliance, as well as the periods of time it is used the most. Knowing this information can help in determining when to turn certain devices off, or get a programmable monitor that can lower power at certain times.

Ceiling fans can be found in most houses these days. If we operate them in a clockwise fashion during the winter in order to push warmer air down, and reverse the motion during the summer to circulate cool air, it will translate to lower energy costs.

Another simple household trick that costs very little is to make sure weather stripping around doors and windows is stable. A roll of weather stripping would be about $7 spent for up to 15 percent savings in heating and cooling costs. And how about our precious resource of water? You can reduce water usage by replacing the aerators, at about $5 each, on your faucets.

And then there’s the old standbys that are hopefully becoming lifestyle habits: wash clothes in cold water; clean the lint screen on your dryer regularly; dust off the coils behind the refrigerator; turn off your computers at night; and unplug electronics and appliances when they are not being used.


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