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By Angela Foster, EdD, Former Professor of Biology, Department of Science, School of General Education
Going ‘green’ is not only better for you and the planet, but it could put some extra green in your wallet as well. While there are a number of ways to save money through increased efficiency, such as compact florescent light bulbs or more energy efficient appliances in your home, it takes time before the savings become apparent in your monthly budget. However, the following tips will provide you with immediate green in both your wallet and life.
First, eat more produce and less meat. Fresh vegetables and fruit are cheaper than meat. Therefore, eating a few more vegetables saves money and is great for your body. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that the average price per pound of beef in October 2007 was $4.15 per pound and the average price of pork was $2.93 per pound. In contrast, the weighted average price for all fresh vegetables and fruits was $0.64 per pound ($0.12 cents per serving) and $0.71 per pound ($0.18 cents per serving) respectively (http://www.ers.usda.gov/Data/MeatPriceSpreads/). Almost two-thirds of fresh fruits cost $0.25 or less per serving. In fact, if you removed just one beef meal per week (based on an eight ounce serving size) and switched to vegetables, your annual savings would be about $100 per person.
Second, use wisdom in setting your thermostat. Follow Energy Star’s suggestions (http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=home_improvement.hm_improvement_index). Start with simple things for better energy efficiency like adjusting the temperature when you’re not home or sleeping. Keeping a closer eye on the temperature settings in both summer and winter can keep you comfortable, put a few extra dollars in your wallet, and help the planet at the same time. In fact, according to Energy Star, you can save $180 annually by watching the thermostat diligently throughout the year.
Third, bike or walk a two mile round trip once a week. With gas prices on the rise, you may want to consider dusting off that bike and taking a ride. About 40 percent of urban travel is two miles or less. Try getting some fresh air, exercise, and saving a few dollars by biking or walking on at least one errand per week. If you really want to make an impact, try the two mile bicycle challenge (http://planetgreen.discovery.com/tech-transport/bicycle-challenge-ride-local.html#). According to the AAA Automobile Club (http://www.aaaexchange.com/Main/Default.asp?CategoryID=16), the average cost of driving per mile is about $0.54. So, 104 miles (2 miles x 52 weeks) adds up to an annual savings of $56.26.
Fourth, hang your laundry instead of using the dryer.According to the US Department of Energy (DOE), the dryer is second only to your refrigerator for using energy around your home. Hanging clothes not only takes advantage of free, 100 percent green, totally renewable energy sources (solar and wind), but also prolongs the life of your clothes (http://planetgreen.discovery.com/go-green/green-laundry/index.html), making this choice beneficial to your wallet on multiple levels. In fact, according to the DOE (http://www.energy.gov/yourhome.htm), reducing the use of the dryer by only one load per week can amount to $70 in annual energy cost savings.
Remember, living green isn’t just about saving the planet…it can save you money as well.
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