Take Charge America offers four planet- and pocket-friendly
While most people would like to help save Mother Earth, not everyone is able to afford to install solar panels on their home or is willing to start a compost bin under the kitchen sink.
Saving money and energy equals a greener Earth and more green in your pocket. When deciding on which eco-friendly products are right for you, consider the product’s overall usability and cost savings, according to Mike Sullivan, director of education for Take Charge America, a nonprofit credit-counseling company.
“Products that are earth-friendly need to meet your needs and work with your budget,” he said. “Changing to planet-friendly products that fit your lifestyle and your budget makes sense and will give you satisfaction on every level.”
Take Charge America offers these four ways to go eco-friendly without breaking the bank:
Go green and clean: Detox your house with “homemade” cleaning products using simple household ingredients that are probably already in your cabinets. Making your own nontoxic cleaning kit will take you no time at all and cost about one-tenth the price of commercial counterparts. Visit http: //es.epa .gov/techinfo/facts/safe-fs.html for easy-to-follow formulas for cleaning every surface in your home.
Hip tip: Add your own natural essential oils in your favorite scents like lavender, lemongrass and tea tree for personalized home cleaning products. Also, store the homemade products in recycled plastic or glass containers that can be reused and refilled.
Lighten up: If every household replaced just three 60-watt incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents (CF), the pollution savings would be the same as taking 3.5 million cars off the road. Do your part and you can save money in the long run, since CFs bearing the certified Energy Star seal can reduce lighting power bills by between 75 percent and 80 percent and can last up to 10 times longer than traditional bulbs, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Start by changing one bulb to see if you like the quality of light. That way, if you aren’t satisfied, you didn’t just replace every bulb in your house. Also be aware of wattage, shape, size and special features to ensure that you’re getting the right product to fit your needs. Visit www.environ mentaldefense.com for tips on purchasing CFs as well as a calculator to add up your bulb savings.
Hip tip: Give yourself a pat-on-the-back by joining Energy Star’s Change a Light Pledge and join the millions who have helped save energy. You also will receive energy- and money-saving tips. Visit www.energy star.gov for details. In addition, utility companies encourage energy-efficient bulbs because they lessen their load at peak times. Check with your local electric company for special programs or rebates.
Water, washers, aerators: By installing just a few water-efficient appliances, you could save an average of 25 percent per year on your water bill. Installing low-flow aerators can conserve water and are inexpensive. Low-flow faucet aerators and showerheads usually range from $5 to $50, depending on features and style. Many utility companies distribute low-flow aerators for free, so check your local provider for freebies. If you can afford it, replace old toilets and washing machines with low-water alternatives. On average, 30 percent of a family’s water bill goes down the drain in the toilet. Look for the WaterSense label on the new high-efficiency toilets (HETs) and help save the nation’s water resources. Visit www.epa.org for information.
Hip tip: Visit www.wef.org and participate in World Water Monitoring Day, which begins Sept. 18.
Worth-it windows: It’s estimated the average American family will spend $2,100 on home energy costs in 2007. Heating and cooling costs account for about one-half of a typical family’s total home energy bill. Certified Energy Star and NFRC windows can greatly reduce your monthly heating and cooling energy bills by up to 15 percent. When looking to replace old windows, it’s important to select the right type of windows for your budget and your climate zone. In general, the more insulated the window, the better the energy and money savings. Look for low-emittance (low-E) coatings, gas-filled windows or tinted glazing, which provide better insulation and lower solar heat gain coefficients. Visit www.house-ener gy.com for details.
Hip tip: Act now and you may get a federal tax credit of up to $500 when purchasing a qualifying window. Tax credits are valid at least through December of 2007. See www. energystar.gov/index.cfm?c= Products.pr_tax_credits for more information.
This information was provided
courtesy of Take Charge America.