Tag: Green Money


Energy Saving Tips That Will Also Save You Money

By Monchette Gonda
July 3, 2017

Saving money on your energy bill is an often-overlooked way to cut your spending. In fact, reducing just 20% of your monthly energy costs can make a big difference in your budget – especially considering the average monthly electricity bill in the United States is close to $120.

Luckily, there are tons of ways to reduce your energy use. Read on for our top tips and you’re bound to find something that works for you.

Replace your incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient options.

Incandescent light bulbs waste lots of electricity, and it’s hard to justify keeping them when you can choose from LED, CFL, or Halogen bulbs in a range of colors, temperatures, lumens, and price points to fit your needs. They might be more costly than your standard incandescent bulbs, but they’ll pay for themselves many times over via savings on your electricity bills.

Use surge protectors so you don’t drain energy from your device chargers.

If your phone charger is plugged in, it’s using electricity – even when it’s not charging your phone. To avoid wasting energy, plug your phone, laptop, and other device chargers into a surge protector that can be switched off when not in use. When you’re not charging anymore, unplug all of your devices with the flick of a switch. And, keep this in mind: Those energy-sucking appliances will also drain your bank account!

Fire up the grill.

Would you rather spend your summer evenings grilling outside or sweating over a hot stove? Seems like an easy answer to me. By grilling outdoors, you not only get to enjoy some fresh air, but you’ll also avoid trapping heat indoors. Better yet, you’ll save major bucks on cooling costs.

Make use of your ceiling fan.

A ceiling fan can make a room feel several degrees cooler, especially when used in conjunction with your air conditioner. Just remember Ceiling fans cool people, not rooms. For this reason, make sure to turn your fans off when you leave the rooms.

Flip the switch.

As it turns out, many ceiling fans can either send air down (for a cooling effect) or up (for a warming effect). If you want to feel cooler, make sure your ceiling fan blades are turning counterclockwise as this will send cooling air down to you. Once you do this, you can turn down your thermostat, open your windows, and enjoy the fresh air. Of course, you can also enjoy the energy savings!

Dust everything.

When we say dust everything, we mean it. This includes air vents, light bulbs, ceiling fan blades, baseboards, electronics, and office equipment. Why? They all use more energy when they’re covered in dust. Pro tip: open your doors and windows while you dust to make sure it’s gone for good (or at least a little while longer).

Vacuum your dryer vents and refrigerator coils.

Much like the rest of your electronics, your dryer and refrigerator run more efficiently when they’re dust-free. To this end, dusting might not be enough to clear your dryer vents and refrigerator coils completely, so make sure to use a vacuum hose attachment to thoroughly clean these appliances. This will help ensure that your refrigerator and dryer operate smoothly.

Reduce the temperature settings on your water heater.  

Did you know that you might be wasting energy because the thermostat on your water heater is set too high? That’s right: The higher the temperature setting, the more energy it takes to heat the water. To save energy, adjust the thermostat on your water heater below 140℉ (any higher, and you’ll just be mixing cold water back into it anyway).

Automate your thermostat. 

Set the temperature a few degrees lower at night and when nobody is home. While you can do this without a programmable thermostat, let’s face it: it’s hard to remember to do this consistently every day. By switching to a set-it-and-forget-it model, you’ll save on energy costs effortlessly.

Move your lamps, TVs, and other potential heat sources away from your thermostat.

While you’re inevitably rearranging all the living room furniture, consider moving heat sources like lamps and TVs away from your thermostat. Why? If they are too close, this can trick your thermostat into thinking it’s a few degrees warmer than it actually is. And this keeps your air conditioner on longer – wasting both power and money. To this end, when you’re having company over, turn down the thermostat before your guests arrive. Their collective body heat will also increase the room temperature.

Go solar. 

If you haven’t already gone solar, you might want to consider it. Switching to solar power can save you anywhere from $7,000 to $30,000 over the course of 20 years depending on where you live. Not only are you locking in low electricity rates for the life of your solar panels, but you’re also supporting a local, sustainable form of clean energy.

Follow These Tips to Save Money and the Environment

As you can see, making your home more energy-efficient can save you a ton of money on your energy bills. The best part? Many of these energy-saving tips won’t cost you a cent. It’s a win-win: you’re saving money while saving the environment at the same time.


#ChimeIn for Our Planet: Combat Climate Change with the Power of Your Wallet

By Lindsay VanSomeren
June 30, 2017

It happened. President Trump has announced his plan to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement. We’re now among the ranks of only two other countries who haven’t signed the agreement: Syria and Nicaragua (who didn’t sign the agreement because it wasn’t strict enough).

As evidenced by this decision, President Trump can do many things that you may or may not agree with. Case in point: 7 out of 10 American voters (and almost half of Trump voters) think the U.S. should participate in the Paris Climate Agreement. While Trump can make decisions that have a big impact on your current and future well being, one area he cannot dictate is your spending. If you’re one of the 69% of Americans that support the Paris Climate Agreement, you can still put your money where your climate values are. To help you vote with your wallet, we’ve compiled a list of ways that you can use your normal daily spending to help combat climate change.

Use the Oroeco app

“What gets measured gets managed” is an old adage. The idea behind the Oroeco app is that you can literally put a scientifically-verified number on how you live and what you buy every day.

All you have to do is link up your Mint.com account (it’s free to sign up) and answer a few questions. The app integrates scientific data from UC Berkeley’s Cool Climate program with your daily spending to give you an estimate of how much actual CO2 equivalents you generate. From there, the app will recommend ways that you can reduce your carbon footprint while saving money.

Shop with environmentally-friendly companies

A lot of companies nowadays are jumping on the eco-friendly bandwagon, but do they actually walk the talk and talk the walk? Keep an eye out for generic labels such as “eco-friendly” or “natural” as these companies may just be slapping a buzz-worthy label on their products.

Rather, look for specific claims, such as “50% post-consumer material,” or “fair trade certified.” They could still be stretching the truth, of course, but chances are slim that they are outright lying about these claims. Need more help? RankABrand is a great place to find an easy-to-understand sustainability score for companies.

Shop with Amazon Smile

OK. We know you shop at Amazon. So why not give a small kickback to your favorite charity in the process? Simply go to smile.amazon.com and select your charity. There are literally tens of thousands to choose from, such as the World Wildlife Fund, The Nature Conservancy, and The Wilderness Society.

Items that are eligible for an Amazon Smile donation will be marked above the yellow Add To Cart box. If you then buy that product, a 0.5% cut will go to your charity—at no extra cost to you.

Eat more veggies

Surprise: Vegetables have a smaller carbon footprint than meat. Still, it’s worth pointing out that by including more vegetables in your diet, you’ll be healthier, wealthier, and the planet will be just a little bit happier.

Oh, and don’t fret too much about buying only organic vegetables. While it’s probably not a bad idea to only eat organic/local/non-GMO produce, there is actually quite a lot of evidence to show that these types of farming systems may not be all they’re cracked up to be.

Make smarter meat choices

While it is more eco-friendly to go vegetarian, some of us just can’t give up our bacon cheeseburgers (I don’t blame you). But, there are some smarter, more climate-friendly ways to get your meat fix.

For land-based meats, try to limit your beef consumption. Instead, opt for more pork and chicken. According to one Swedish study, beef generates 323% and 698% more greenhouse gas emissions than pork and chicken, respectively.

For seafood, check the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program for recommendations. The aquarium even has an app to help you get the most sustainable fish while on the go (hint: a lot of fish on the market today is not sustainable).

Opt for reusable products

The amount of money we waste on disposable products is mind-boggling. In the U.S. alone, more than 60 million disposable water bottles are thrown away—per day. These items fill up landfills and drive consumption of more resources, which ultimately contributes to climate change.

Instead, anytime you throw something away, ask yourself: Is there a reusable option for this? Can I get it on Amazon Smile?

Things like water bottles, grocery/produce bags, coffee cups, and paper towels are all great candidates for reusable replacements. A great side bonus? You’ll save a ton of money as well.

Go solar

One of the best ways to go green is by installing a solar system on your home. You’ll even get a 30% tax credit for doing so. In some cases, you can completely power your entire home with a solar system. Even if you can only replace a portion of your electric bill, every little bit helps.

Don’t own your own home? Me neither. But, there are still options for renters. Many places have solar communities available where you can buy or lease your own panel in an off-site solar farm in return for credits towards your electric bill. My local solar community estimates one panel costs $485 after tax credits, but you’ll earn about $1,122 in electric credits over its 50-year lifetime.

Look on the Bright Side

As you can see, even in the wake of Trump’s decision regarding the Paris Climate Agreement, you can have a positive effect on our climate. In fact, by using these tips, you’ll be doing your part to create a brighter future for our planet.


How Going Solar Can Actually Save You Money

By Monchette Gonda
April 22, 2017

You’ve likely heard the hype surrounding Tesla’s Solar Roof. Indeed, this was big news in the solar world. In 2016, Tesla acquired SolarCity, the country’s largest provider of solar energy services. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has since announced that it will soon unveil its new technologically advanced and aesthetically superior solar roofs.

This announcement reflects rising consumer interest in solar energy as more Americans seek environmentally-friendly energy alternatives while also lowering their power bills. This Earth Day, we’re celebrating solar energy and its ability to save you money while saving the environment. Read on to learn how solar technology can save you money.

Why is solar now so popular?

The technology used in today’s solar panels has been around for more than 50 years. So, why is solar just taking off now? The answer boils down to a lower price-tag, higher savings, and greater efficiency.

In the past, potential solar homeowners were faced with the high cost of installing panels. Today, however, solar panels are more efficient and affordable. In fact, the average price of solar energy nationwide has dropped 67% in the last five years. Compare that to the rising cost of electricity, and solar providers can readily advertise potential savings of up to 20% on energy bills.

It looks like there’s no end in sight for the expanding solar industry, which grew by 97% in 2016 and is on track to triple from powering 8.3 million homes last year to 22 million homes by 2021.

Is solar the right option for you?

If you want to see how solar can benefit you financially, it’s a good idea to do a bit of research. Luckily, this is easy. Online tools like Google’s Project Sunroof are using increasingly sophisticated technology to calculate the potential savings you can expect from going solar. Project Sunroof uses Google Maps, Google Earth, 3D modeling, and machine learning technology to estimate the amount of sunlight your roof gets throughout the year. Google’s proprietary algorithm then crunches the numbers for you to determine how much you could save over the next 20 years by switching to solar energy.

Project Sunroof also looks up typical electricity rates and solar energy prices for your region, as well as available solar rebates and incentives provided by your state. Rebates and incentives can vary widely by state, but they have the potential to save consumers thousands. Find out how your state rewards you for going solar using the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency.

The best of both worlds

Choosing to go solar doesn’t mean you have to commit to going “off the grid”. Many solar-powered homes can remain connected to the electricity grid. This means you can tap into regular power sources if your solar panels or roof don’t produce enough energy. Likewise, if you live in some regions of the country, you can even get paid for the solar energy you don’t use. Here’s how it works: If you produce more energy than you use, the excess energy is fed back into the electric grid. The local utility company then pays for the energy via energy credits to your account. This arrangement is called “net metering” and provides yet another avenue for you to save on your energy bills.

The bright side: solar savings 

Today’s solar panels have a lifespan of about 20 years, which means homeowners can lock in lower energy rates for decades. To top it off, solar leases, solar loans, and power purchase agreements are providing additional financing options beyond purchasing your solar system outright. Owning your solar panels can cost you $15,000 to $30,000 before rebates and incentives, but leases and loans can allow you to go solar for as little as $0 down. Solar savings calculators make it easy to learn about financing options available in your area by aggregating quotes from local installers.

That said, not everyone is in a position to install a home solar system. You might rent your home, live in an area with low solar energy potential, or simply not be ready to make the switch. This doesn’t mean you’re doomed to miss out on solar savings for life. Researchers are continually developing new solar technologies and improving existing ones, which means you can always go solar when the time is right for you.

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