Back when Ed and I were first married, we had tons of money for kids our age. We lived in a sweet little apartment over my parents’ detached garage, paid no rent, and had two good jobs. Our only real bills were Ed’s truck payment and our cell phones. Our savings account grew and grew, but we also had money to spend on whatever we wanted. We weren’t wasteful really, but we never worried about not having enough money.
Flash forward five years. We built our dream house and burned through that savings account quickly. We’ve got a hefty mortgage to pay, along with electricity, heating oil, property taxes, insurance… the list goes on. Needless to say our spending habits have changed, and in the process we’ve also become more sustainable. Here are some ways we save money while going green at the same time.
Cook at Home
The Savings: Back in our early days of marriage, we thought nothing of going out to eat a couple times a week, probably spending $50 each time. Now, I don’t know about you, but I can cook a pretty fabulous meal for more than two people for way less than $50. If we went out to eat 2 times a week, that adds up to $5200 in a year. Wow! What were we thinking? Now we go out to dinner once every couple months for special occasions, and prefer to have family and friends here instead.
The Bonus: When I cook at home, I control the quality of the ingredients and can purchase from local, sustainable sources. The food I cook is generally healthier and lower in fat than restaurant food, too.
The Downside: Dishes.
Adjust the Thermostat
The Savings: Last winter, Ed and I kept our thermostat set at 50 degrees when we weren’t home, 55 when we were, and supplemented with wood in the wood stove. By doing so, we saved two whole tanks of oil, which translated to a savings of over $1700 when we factored in the drop in oil price from winter 07-08 to winter 08-09. This summer, we’ve used our AC sparingly and have seen savings on our electric bill.
The Bonus: More snuggling! We also dressed warmly, in sweatshirts and thick socks, and enjoyed the quilts our grandmothers made as well as the snuggies my mom gave us. I also rekindled my love for fleece jammies. Oh, right, in terms of sustainability, you drastically cut carbon emissions and reduce dependence on foreign oil.
The Downside: Bringing wood into the basement and keeping a fire going. Also, people complain that your house is cold, but it didn’t stop my brothers from their regular visits.
BYOW (Bring Your Own Water)
The Savings: When I first started teaching, I would bring about two plastic water bottles with me each day. At about a dollar each, and 180 school days, that translates to $360 a year. That doesn’t include all the other single-use plastic beverage bottles I purchased. Those reusable water bottles filled with my own well water paid for themselves in a few weeks.
The Bonus: BYOW means reducing your plastic waste immensely! Plus, carrying around your own reusable water bottle makes you a sustainable role model.
The Downside: Darn it! More dishes. Also, I forget to wash them out each night, so to solve that problem, I have a few bottles.
There are many more ways that we save green by going green, but these are simple examples that I could put some reliable numbers on. By cooking at home, adjusting the thermostat, and bringing our own water, we saved a total of $7260 last year!
If you’ve got some suggestions for saving money while living sustainably, please leave a comment or contribute to the APLS carnival!