Save Money by Going Green – 58 Tips and Tricks

There are many ways you can save money by going green including swapping cloth napkins for paper towel, swapping to reusable coffee cups and avoiding plastic wrap. Swap bottled water for a reusable bottle and use a reusable lunchbox for a waste free, green lunch.

 Check out these tips and tricks and see which ones you can try in your home.

  1. Use cloth napkins instead of paper towel
  2. Swap to reusable coffee cups
  3. Skip the plastic wrap
  4. Avoid plastic Lunch bags
  5. Swap bottled water for a reusable bottle
  6. Use a reusable lunchbox – have a waste free lunch
  7. Don’t purchase individually packed foods
  8. Use a low flow tap
  9. Use a low flow shower head
  10. Turn off the tap
  11. Repair leaky faucets
  12. Cover your pool
  13. Have shorter showers
  14. Wash your clothes in cold water
  15. Install a rain barrel on your downpipes or water tank
  16. Swap to LED lightbulbs
  17. Reduce your heating settings
  18. Insulate your house
  19. Install solar lights on your path
  20. Check the energy efficiency of appliances
  21. Dry your clothes on your line
  22. Turn off lights when you leave a room
  23. Fill up your washing machine
  24. install a programmable thermostat
  25. Add weatherstripping to your doors and windows
  26. Run your dishwasher only when it’s full
  27. Put your electronics on power strips to reduce vampires
  28. Turn your computer monitor off when not in use
  29. Unplug your phone or laptop when it is charged
  30. Use rechargeable batteries instead of disposable
  31. Buy second hand
  32. Recycle your cans
  33. Borrow instead of purchase (Blue ray)
  34. Make your own cleaning supplies
  35. Go paperless
  36. Use hankies instead of tissues
  37. Use everything until you can’t use it anymore – phones, etc.
  38. Visit the library – borrow books instead of buying them, movies audio etc.
  39. When buying items buy good quality – eg coffee machine, whitegoods
  40. switch to online billing – most companies offer a discount for online billing – or at least don’t charge you
  41. Plant trees in your yard to provide shade
  42. Embrace minimalism
  43. sell your excess stuff instead of throwing it away
  44. Cook from scratch as much as you can
  45. Avoid the takeaway
  46. Cook in bulk
  47. Use a slow cooker
  48. Eat less meat
  49. Grow your own food – especially herbs
  50. Use up leftovers
  51. Use a microwave
  52. Fill up your freezer
  53. Make a grocery list
  54. Buy seasonal fruit and veg
  55. Walk and ride whenever you can
  56. If you need to use your car make sure your tyres are inflated correctly
  57. Avoid idling your car – 30 second rule
  58. Work from home

What I have done for each of these changes is use the best estimation I can for the amount of power, water and money they will save you.  Of course, they will all differ a little bit as there are so many factors that come into play. Use these numbers as a starting point to see how many little things can make a big difference.

Kitchen

Eco friendly kitchen tips
Start with eco friendly changes in the kitchen

If you want to save money then going green in the kitchen can be a fantastic way to get started. Let’s explore some great ideas and how much money you could save.

Use cloth napkins instead of paper towel

Using reusable cloth napkins, huck towels or washcloths can replace your normal throwaway paper towel.  If a family uses 1 roll of paper towel per week at $1 each that is $52 saved per year. Check out unpaper towels on Amazon.

Swap to reusable coffee cups

Swapping to reusable coffee cups when you buy your takeaway coffee can actually save you money.  If your cafe offers a discount for bringing a reusable cup then this can save you quite a bit of money each year.  If your cafe offers a 50c discount then this adds up to $183 per year saved.

I like bamboo reusable cups because they are light and shouldn’t break when you drop them.  Check them out on Amazon.

Skip the plastic wrap

Swapping out your plastic wrap for a reusable option like beeswax wrap or a reusable container can save you heaps each year.   A $5 roll of plastic wrap bought each month equals $30 of plastic wrap saved.

Avoid plastic lunch bags

Instead of placing your sandwich each day into a plastic lunch bag opt for a lunch box instead or these great reusable lunch bags.  300 days of sandwiches would use 6×50 plastic bag packets, at around $4 each that is $24 saved per year.

Swap bottled water for a reusable bottle

If you buy bottled water this a great thing to swap out to save money.  Grab 1 reusable bottle and swap it out for disposable bottles. If you purchase 3 bottles of water per week at $1.50 each, that is $78 per year saved by swapping to reusable.

Use a reusable lunchbox and have a waste free lunch

A simple solution for throwaway bags, plastic and a simple way to carry snacks is a reusable bento lunch box.  Perfect for kids and adults, it has small compartments ready for any snack or meal. Pack this and there is no need for disposables.

Don’t purchase individually packed foods

A great way to avoid the waste and also to save you money is to buy snacks that are not pre-portioned.  Instead of buying nuts, dried fruit, savory or sweet biscuits in individual packets, buy a big one and separate it yourself. If you have a bento box this is as simple as throwing the snacks into a small compartment.

Depending on how many snacks you buy per week this could save you heaps, and save the packaging.  For example, instead of buying 6x40g sultanas for $2.50, equaling 42c per serve, instead purchase a 1kg box of sultanas for $4.00, which equals 25x40g serves, equaling 16c per 40g serve. 

Put simply if your kids eat 5x 40g packets of sultanas per week, that is 260 packets per year which equals $109 per year if you purchase them pre-packaged or $41.60 if you buy the 1kg packets.  That is a saving of $67.40 by buying the larger pack. That is just in sultanas, if you buy other snacks this can really add up.

Save water

Save water to save money
Save water to save money

Use a low flow tap

A great way to save water is to change your tap and shower head fittings over to low flow.  Our taps can use around 15-18% of the water used in our household. Reducing this will certainly save you money.

The other thing to remember is that both your kitchen and showers use hot water.  If you reduce the amount of water flowing through your taps, you also reduce the amount of hot water you use, which reduces hot water heating costs.

An aerator installed onto taps basically reduces the maximum amount of water that flows through the tap.  These simply screw into the faucet.

According to Home Water Works Average American households use between 6,600 to 9,750 gallons of water per year just through their taps. The key to using less water was the use of aerators or low flow taps.

So to put this in dollar terms, the average price of water in the US is $1.50 per 1000 gallons, which means installing aerators could save you around $3 per year. That’s not a whole lot in dollar terms, but if we add this up over a lifetime the amount of water saved is huge.  That is 3,150 gallons per year, over a 40 year time span that is 126,000 gallons.

The biggest saving for this one, because water is quite cheap in the US is the fresh water savings. Water is such a valuable resource that any way to save it is worth it for the planet.  

If you live in Australia however this could be a bigger cost saving.  Based on average Sydney water prices of $2.28 per kilolitre, and around 12,000 litres saved using low flow taps, that equals around $30 per year.

Use a low flow shower head

Low flow shower heads reduce the amount of water coming out of your shower each minute compared to normal shower heads.  Depending on how long, how often and how many people are in your house this could lead to some big savings in water.

Shower heads range in their water use per minute from around 2.5 gallons per minute for the normal shower head sold today to as low as 0.5 gallons per minute for the ultra low flow shower heads.  To calculate this out we can simply multiply the amount of water used per minute with the length of showers.

So if a 4 person household showers for 7 minutes each using a normal shower head then they would use 70 gallons per day.  Over a 1 year period that is 25,550 gallons.

If you compare this to a conservatively low flow shower head at 1 gallon per minute, that is 20 gallons per day and 10,220 gallons per year.  That is a saving of 15,280 gallons per year per family. That is a saving of around $23 in the US or if you are in Australia then it could be up to $89 per year.

Turn off the tap

The simple act of turning off the tap when you are brushing your teeth is a good way to stop water unnecessarily flowing down the drain.  There is no use allowing good quality water to flow straight from the tap down your drain so teach your kids to turn off the tap too. Habits started at a young age will stick with you so start early and turn off that tap.

Repair leaky faucets

Another great water saver that is literally like stopping your dollars from going down the drain is to fix leaky faucets as soon as you notice them.  

So how much water is wasted from a leaking faucet? Assuming it drips each second of the day, that is around 2,082 gallons per year.  If you have multiple taps dripping it can really add up.  

So what do you do if you have a leaking faucet? Check out this article on This Old House for more information or call a plumber.

Cover your pool

Did you  know that covering your pool with the right type of cover can significantly reduce the amount of water lost out of your pool each year?  A pool that isn’t covered loses water through evaporation. A study has shown that pools in warm climates like California can lose 60-80 inches of water per year.

A study performed in California showed that foam covers, bubble covers and solid track covers reduced water loss by around 95%.  This is a very good way to stop water loss from your pool and will also help to keep it nice and warm.

Have shorter showers

Having shorter showers is a simple way to reduce water use in your home. To work out how much, it really depends on how long your showers reduce to and at what flow rate your shower head is.  

If you have an average shower head at a flow rate of 2.5 gallons per minute, reducing your shower by 5 minutes will save 12.5 gallons per day.  If each member of a family of 4 does this each day, that is a big saving of 18,250 gallons per year. In dollar value that is $27 per year in the US or $157 in Australia.

Install a rain barrel on your downpipes or water tank

A really cool way to have free water for your garden is to install a rain barrel  to your downpipes. Collecting free rain water is a great way to save on your water bill and replace some of your municipal water use.

Water collected in rain barrels needs to be used on your garden and not for drinking but the average roof with ¼ inch of rain can fill 3x 50 gallon barrels.  That is a great supplement to your garden and will help cut down water costs. A big proportion of the water used in households is for garden use so find out more about rain barrels and how they can help you save here.

Save power

Changing light bulbs can save you power
Save power around your home with simple tricks

Wash your clothes in cold water

This simple change will save you money and the calculations are equally simple.  A hot wash will cost you around $0.68 per load, a cold load will cost you $0.04 per load in the US according to this article.

Depending on how many loads you do you could save quite a bit.  If you do 4 loads per week (like me with 2 kids) you will save around $133 per year by washing your clothes in cold water.

Swap to LED lightbulbs

Swapping to LED light bulbs instead of the normal 60 watt incandescent bulb will save you money over the long term.  Calculations based on the lifetime of a bulb shows that lighting with a normal bulb will cost you around $200 over 23 years compared to $38 for an LED bulb.  

If you have 20 lights in your house that is a saving of $3,240 for a household over 23 years or averaged to $140 per year.

Reduce your heating settings

Heating and cooling is a big energy cost to you home.  Making a little adjustment to your settings can help you save.  You will save about 1% for every degree your heating is lowered for every 8 hours your heater is on.

Setting your heating to 68 degrees during the day and 55 degrees at night will save you up to 13% on your heating costs.  

In the US heating (and cooling) can be up to 48% of your energy bill.  So if you reduce your heating to 68 degrees during the day this can save you an average of $83 per year (according to this report).

Insulate your house

Insulation is one of the best ways of keeping heat in during the winter and keeping your house cool during the summer.  On average, a well insulated house with a high grade of insulation will save up to $600 per year on their heating bill based on some average estimations.  

Read more here at HouseLogic on how insulating your attic can save you money.

Install solar lights on your path

A great little swap that uses no power (except from the sun) is to use solar path lights.  Harness free energy and light your path beautifully with gorgeous little path lights.

Check the energy efficiency of appliances

If you are purchasing new appliances check the sticker to see how energy efficient they area.  Appliances with an energy star rating have been checked and rated based on how energy efficient they are.  It can be a great way to choose the most efficient product in the range.

Dry your clothes on your line

Drying your clothes on a line or rack can be a great money saver.  In the US an average dryer running for 40 minutes will cost about $0.45 per load.  If you do 4 loads per week, that is $94 per year according to The Spruce.

In Australia using a 1.5 energy star rated 6kg capacity machine can cost up to $1.17 per load,  or $243 per year for 4 loads per week. Drying clothes on your line or a rack is completely free, helps to kill bacteria if dried in the sun and reduces the wear on your clothes.

Turn off lights when you leave a room

Although the dollar savings of turning lights off is not impressive it is absolutely still worth doing.  Why have a light running when you are not even there? If you head out of the house all day, do a quick run through and turn  off the lights. No energy wastage is worth it.

Fill up your washing machine

A really easy tip is to make sure you only run your washing machine when it’s full.  It still uses the same amount of power no matter how many clothes are in it so why not fill it up and get the most out of it.

Here are 13 more energy saving changes you can make to your home

  1. Install a programmable thermostat
  2. Add weatherstripping to your doors and windows
  3. Run your dishwasher only when it’s full
  4. Put your electronics on power strips to reduce vampires
  5. Turn your computer monitor off when not in use
  6. Unplug your phone or laptop when it is charged
  7. Use rechargeable batteries instead of disposable
  8. Buy second hand
  9. Recycle your cans
  10. Borrow movies instead of purchasing them
  11. Make your own cleaning supplies
  12. Go paperless
  13. Use hankies instead of tissues
  14. Go to a clothing swap
  15. Use everything until you can’t use it anymore – phones, etc.
  16. Visit the library – borrow books instead of buying them, borrow movies audio books and toys.
  17. When buying items buy good quality – eg coffee machine, white goods. They last longer and can work more efficiently. 
  18. Switch to online billing – most companies offer a discount for online billing (or at least don’t charge you)
  19. Plant trees in your yard to provide shade
  20. Embrace minimalism
  21. Sell your excess stuff instead of throwing it away

FOOD

  1. Cook from scratch as much as you can
  2. Avoid the takeaway
  3. Cook in bulk
  4. Use a slow cooker
  5. Eat less meat
  6. Grow your own food – especially herbs
  7. Use up leftovers
  8. Use a microwave
  9. Fill up your freezer
  10. Make a grocery list
  11. Buy seasonal fruit and veg

Commuting

  1. Walk and ride whenever you can
  2. If you need to use your car make sure your tyres are inflated correctly
  3. Avoid idling your car
  4. Work from home – this eliminates commuting costs completely

Have frugal weekends

Having some weekends off from spending can really help you to save money each year.  It is really easy to spend money on weekends, especially when you are out and about but a bit of pre-planning can help you save tons of cash so check out these frugal ideas below for fun, cheap weekends.

  • If you already have Netflix have a movie night, make your own popcorn or pull out an old DVD you have at home
  • Play board games – set up an epic monopoly game or scrabble or twister
  • Go for a hike
  • Have a picnic
  • Visit the library
  • Visit free museums
  • Go to the beach
  • Go fishing
  • Go for a family bike ride
  • Wander through your city and look at historic sites

How much money can you save going green?

As you can see that there are lots of things you can do to save money by going green.  What you choose to do is completely up to you and you can definitely take it 1 step at a time. Remember the estimated savings amount is only a guide so do your own research and experiments at home to see how much you can really save.

Pick something to start with and give it a try, and my advice is to pick what is easiest for you.  Once you start making changes you will gather some momentum and you may feel inspired to keep making green changes.  How much money you save by making these changes is really up to you. Keep a track of your power and water bill for a start and watch how they can change with just a little effort.   

If you are not sure where to start check out this eco challenge for a step by step guide.