Several weeks ago, I posted on 10 Easy Ways to Be Green, introducing some simple ways to save money by living more lightly on the planet. Now that you’ve mastered them, here are ten advanced ways of living an eco-friendly life that will save you even more money, and continue to improve the health of your family and the planet.
Some of these tips require a little financial investment up front to reap large savings down the road. Other tips might require stepping outside of your comfort zone a bit, but once you get started, you’ll wonder why everyone isn’t doing these things! So here we go:
10 Advanced Ways to Be Green
1. Grow an Organic Garden – There is no greater way to reduce your grocery bill and provide the freshest, most nutritious food to your family than to grow your own. For just a few hours investment per week, you can turn a sunny plot in your yard into the best excuse to avoid another car trip to the grocery store. And by growing organically, you keep highly toxic poisons out of your family’s bodies and the environment.
If you’re new to gardening or to organic gardening, here are some great resources to get you started:
2. Install a Dual-Flush Toilet – In the United States, about 4.8 billion gallons of water are used every day to flush waste. Since toilets account for nearly one third of household water consumption, the potential for savings in this area is significant.
A dual-flush toilet is a toilet that has—like the name says—two flushers. One flusher releases a small amount of water to flush away urine. The second flusher fully releases all the water in the tank to flush away solids. It doesn’t take much water to flush away urine, so installing a dual-flush toilet can save a lot of water and reduce your water bill.
You can get a Two-Flush Kit for less than $50, and retrofit your existing toilet, or if you’re in the market for a new toilet, you can get a brand new, complete dual-flush toilet. Depending on where you live, many municipalities offer rebates or tax credits for installing low-flow, dual-flush toilets.
3. Switch to a Tankless Water Heater - Imagine having and endless supply of hot showers while saving money and helping the environment at the same time. Sound impossible? Not when you consider the fact that the amount of energy wasted in North America each year to simply keep a tank of hot water permanently on standby and ready for use (even while we sleep) is enough energy to power a small Third World nation. Why are we spending hard-earned dollars to burn fossil fuels to heat a tank of hot water while we sleep?
Tankless water heaters only consume energy when you use hot water, and instantly heat your water when you turn on the tap. Tankless water heater technology has been a proven solution for over 25 years in Europe and Japan, and is just now becoming a popular choice across North America.
Switching to a tankless water heater will help the environment in 3 ways: Going tankless will reduce the amount of fossil fuels you consume to heat your household water. Secondly, as tankless heaters are typically much smaller than traditional hot water tanks, they require less metal to make, thereby reducing the global demand for mining and metal consumption. Thirdly, tankless heaters last 2-3 times longer than traditional hot water tanks and therefore save you money, further reduce the demand for metal, and reduce landfill waste.
By installing a tankless water heater, the average homeowner will usually see savings of 15%-25% on the cost of heating water, while households that have less hot water demand may see savings of up to 48%. And, under the Energy Tax Incentives Act you can qualify for a $300 Federal rebate by switching your hot water tank to a tankless water heater unit.
4. Join a CSA - If you are not inclined to gardening, or if your garden doesn’t supply enough produce for your needs, a great way to get fresh, local produce is by joining a Community Supported Agriculture farm.
In a CSA, a farmer offers “shares” to the public. Interested buyers purchase a share, becoming CSA members, and in return receive a box (bag, basket) of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season. This arrangement can give you lower cost for organic produce, and supports your local farmers.
CSAs aren’t confined to produce. Some farmers include the option for shareholders to buy shares of eggs, jam, homemade bread, meat, cheese, flowers or other farm products along with their veggies. Sometimes, several farmers will offer their products together, to offer the widest variety to their members.
If CSA sounds like an ideal way to enjoy local, fresh produce, then LocalHarvest.org has the most comprehensive directory of CSA farms, with over 2,500 listed in their database, so you can easily find a CSA near you.
5. Buy a Hybrid Vehicle – Hybrid vehicles are definitely the wave of the future—or at least one of them, until the electric car returns to the market. With gas prices remaining over $3 a gallon and oil prices up around $100 a barrel, the need to save on fuel—and fuel costs—is clearly not just a passing fad. And, of course, concerns about air quality and global warming seem to increase every day.
Car emissions kill 30,000 people each year in the U.S. More than half of the people in the U.S. live in areas that failed to meet federal air quality standards at least several days a year, and around 80 million Americans live in areas that continually fail to meet these standards. More ozone pollution is caused by motor vehicles than any other source, which accounts for 72% of nitrogen oxides and 52% of reactive hydrocarbons (the principal components of smog).
The U.S. uses about half of the world’s gasoline, and cars and SUV’s use 40% of the oil that’s used daily in the U.S. And now that we are at the peak of our oil supply, reducing our need for oil and gas has never been more important. So, next time you’re in the market for a new car, consider getting a hybrid vehicle. Hybrid vehicles have significantly reduced emissions compared to the gasoline cars, and their outstanding gas mileage will not only reduce our dependence on oil, but can save you as much as $500 a year at the pump.
Stay tuned for the last five advanced ways to be green next week!
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