Turning green into gold

Allecia Vermillion

Many government leaders tout green technology and green jobs as a remedy to some of our national economic troubles. However, embracing an eco-friendly philosophy can also save you money at home.

Here are some of our favorite ways your earth-friendly habits can result in more cash in your pocket.

No. 1: Reduce

Cutting your household energy consumption can quickly shrink your carbon footprint. But this conscientious practice also pays off in lower utility bills. There are plenty of ways to shrink your household energy use.

- Upgrading to energy-efficient appliances.

- Using CFL light bulbs.

- Installing a programmable thermostat.

- Simply turning down the heat (or the air conditioning in summer months).

- Unplugging appliances when not in use, or using power strips with an on/off switch.

No. 2: Reuse

It’s a bit of a no-brainer, but reusing items instead of buying new ones reduces waste and expenses. Around the house, this often means swapping out disposable items like plastic water bottles for more permanent versions.

- If you use paper towels for cleaning, swap in washable rags made from worn out clothing. Old T-shirts and towels can be cut up into smaller sizes suitable for scrubbing sinks and wiping down countertops.

- Buy a sturdy reusable water bottle instead of purchasing disposables. Look for a version free of chemicals like bisphenol-A (BPA), used to harden plastics and linked to various health problems in some medical studies.

- Small plastic shopping bags can be difficult to recycle, but they make great liners for smaller wastebaskets in bathrooms or bedrooms. Don’t spend money on small wastebasket bags when you already bring home their equivalent for free.

No. 3: Recycle

- Saving money by recycling immediately brings to mind the small sum many states offer for returning used bottles and cans. Those pennies can add up (it’s a great project for kids) but there are more fiscally friendly recycling options.

- Have clothing that family members have outgrown? Swap kids’ clothes with neighbors, or sell adult items on eBay or at a consignment shop so they can find an appreciative new owner and you put money in the bank.

- Reduce your water bill by collecting grey water (runoff from activities like laundry, showers and washing dishes) and using it in the garden.

Did you know? Installing a water-efficient toilet can save a family of four more than $90 annually on water bills, according to the EPA.

Eco-life: Incentives to go green

Consumers are more likely to make energy-efficient choices if they will also be saving money, according to a 2009 survey by sustainability focused advertising agency The Shelton Group. Of the survey’s 500 respondents, 71 percent said they would consider buying energy-efficient products to save money, while 55 percent said they would do it to protect the environment.