Going Green: 5 Things You Can Do to Save Money and Be Energy Efficient

Dec 1, 2011, 8:44 a.m.

You've finally decided to do it! You want to go green and make your household more energy efficient. Get energized to do your part by following these five tips, which are not only good for the earth, but your pocketbook too.

Use ENERGY STAR appliances. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), families can save about $400 annually by using energy-efficient products. For example, simply replacing an old water heater with an ENERGY STAR water heater can save you about 7 percent on your water bill. Besides saving money, energy-efficient products help to reduce greenhouse gases emissions. The ENERGY STAR label is backed by the U.S. government to indicate that the appliance meets energy efficient standards. Make sure you apply for applicable rebates for purchasing energy-efficient appliances as well as take advantage of any tax credits. Purchase earth-friendly laundry detergents and wash in cold water when possible and you'll save even more.

Drive a fuel-efficient car. You can save approximately $370 annually in fuel costs by driving a fuel-efficient car, reports the U.S. Department of Energy. If you choose a fuel-efficient car that gets 30 mpg or over, you'll save even more. For example, purchase a Hyundai Accent for an MSRP under $10,000, and you'll save over $1,000 in fuel costs annually. Not only will you be saving money, but you'll be reducing the level of air pollution and smog you contribute to planet earth.

Install a programmable thermostat. The average household spends $1,100 annually on heating and cooling their home. But by properly setting and using a programmable thermostat, homeowners can stand to save roughly $180 a year .

Switch out your light bulbs. By replacing old incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs, or CFLs, you'll not only use about 75 percent less energy, but CFL bulbs last roughly six times longer. What's more, every time you replace an incandescent light bulb with a CFL, you save about $6 that year in electricity costs. Further, because CFL bulbs produce less heat, home cooling costs are reduced.

Turn down the water heater temperature. By turning down the temperature to 120 degrees Fahrenheit on your water heater, you can cut your water-heating costs by 6 to 10 percent, according to the EPA.

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