10 Cool Money Saving Ideas
- Cool cars don’t guzzle. When you buy your next car, look for the one with the best fuel economy in its class. The vehicle you drive has the single largest impact on climate change of any action you take. For each gallon of gas you burn, 20 pounds of heat-trapping carbon dioxide (CO2) is released into the atmosphere. And better gas mileage not only reduces global warming, but also will save you thousands of dollars at the pump over the life of the vehicle. Check the fuel economy sticker on the cars you're considering and look for new technologies like hybrid engines. Hybrids run on gasoline and self-charging electric engines that never have to be plugged in.
- Think before you drive. If you own more than one vehicle, use the less fuel-efficient one only when you can fill it with passengers -- a full minivan may be kinder to the environment than using two midsize cars. Use your gas miser for travel with one or two passengers. And whenever possible, join a carpool or take mass transit.
- Look for Energy Star. When it comes time to replace appliances, look for the Energy Star label on new appliances (refrigerators, freezers, furnaces, air conditioners and water heaters use the most energy). These items may cost a bit more initially, but the energy savings will pay back the extra investment within a couple years. Household energy savings really can make a difference. If each household in the US replaced its existing appliances with the most efficient models available, we would save $15 billion in energy costs and eliminate 175 million tons of heat-trapping gases.
- Light bulbs matter. If every family in the US replaced one regular light bulb with an energy saving model, we'd reduce global warming pollution by more than 90 billion pounds, the same as taking 7.5 million cars off the road. So replace your incandescent light bulbs with more efficient compact fluorescent lights, which now come in all shapes and sizes. CFLs last for years, so you’ll save on bulbs as well as your electricity bills.
- Unplug a freezer. One of the quickest ways to reduce your global warming impact is to unplug the extra refrigerator or freezer you rarely use -- except when you need it for holidays and parties. This can reduce the typical family's CO2 gas emissions nearly 10 percent.
- Get a home energy audits. Many utilities offer free home energy audits. Take advantage of this service. Simple measures, like installing a programmable thermostat to replace your old dial unit or sealing and insulating heating and cooling ducts, can each reduce a typical family's CO2 emissions by about 5 percent.
- Microwave. How did we ever live without them? While they still can’t bake bread, they are great for many cooking tasks and use one-third the energy of an electric oven. During the summer, they won’t heat up your kitchen and make you turn up the A/C.
- Plant a tree. You can also make a difference in your own backyard. Get a group in your neighborhood together and contact your local arborist or urban forester about planting trees on private property and public areas. In addition to storing carbon, trees planted in and around urban areas and residences can provide much-needed shade in the summer, reducing energy bills and fossil fuel use.
- Wash your clothes in cold water instead of hot. If you use the right detergent, your clothes will be just as clean and you will cut your energy use in half. And cooler temps means less wear and tear on your clothes—so you clothes will last longer and you’ll reduce your energy bills.
- Bug the boss. While our individual actions can make a big difference, we can each amplify our efforts by suggesting energy-efficiency measures at work, school or with our local government. Simple policies like turning off lights and computer workstations at night can add up to significant energy savings. Bigger changes, like switching to compact fluorescent lighting, investing in energy efficient computers and office machines, or using renewable energy can cut make huge difference. For example, in 1990 the city of Toronto’s embarked on an effort to reduce its emission of global warming gases. To date, it has reduced them 67% below 1990 levels. Energy-efficiency measures alone now save the city $10 million (Cdn) each year.
Since you’ve saved some money, consider:
More than half the electricity in the United States comes from polluting coal power plants. And power plants are the single largest source of heat trapping gas. None of us can live without electricity, but in some states, you can switch to electricity companies that provide 50 to 100 percent renewable energy. In other states, utilities offer "green power" choices. Ask your electric company to provide you with "Green-e" certified renewable power.
Cool building products.
When buying wood products, ask for labels that indicate the source of the timber like the Forest Stewardship Council. It makes sense -- for biodiversity's sake -- to support forests that are managed in a sustainable fashion. It may make sense for the climate too. Forests that are well managed are more likely to store carbon effectively because more trees are left standing and carbon-storing soils are less disturbed. Reclaimed or salvaged wood can offer greater quality and beauty of wood cut from the same species of tree today -- and the purchase of it won't bring down a single tree.
And don’t forget to voice your concern.
Take action at climatestar.org. We can’t make a real difference unless our leaders take this environmental problem seriously. Time and again, America has proven that putting together the best minds and the right resources can result in technological breakthroughs that change the course of human history. The Manhattan Project, the Apollo Program and the silicon chip are only a few examples of the power of American ingenuity. We need to put it to work on global warming today!