Unless you live in a cave on a remote island, without any method of communicating with the outside world, you will know that global warming and resource depletion are environmental issues that are not about to go away.
The environment has steadily moved its way up everyone’s agenda as we are more conscious about recycling and the amount of energy and water we waste.
With so much information bombarding our senses on environmental issues, there’s no doubt about it, understanding how best to ‘green up’ our lifestyle can be difficult and confusing.
We can all learn a lesson from big business, which has realised that by applying some commonsense to how they operate, they can improve their image, satisfy the demands of increasingly ‘eco-aware’ shareholders, and meet the increasing ‘green’ demands of customers by making changes to many of the products we buy from them. However, the key factor with business is improving their ‘bottom-line’. If being greener cost them more, they would be highly unlikely to make changes.
For those of us that care about trying to ‘do our bit’ for the environment, but not necessarily classifying ourselves as ‘rainbow warriors’ or ‘tree huggers’, we face a dilemma. What can we do to make a difference, without going so far as building a composting toilet in our gardens?
There is nothing wrong about modeling our approach to being greener on how the big corporations are approaching the matter. Essentially the key way they are doing this is by cutting out waste to become more efficient.
Here are three top tips on how to green up your lifestyle and save money.
1: Reduce the Amount of Food You Throw-away
In the UK, 30% of all the food we buy is thrown away. The food waste will generally end up in landfill, where as it degrades turns into a greenhouse gas about 19 times more potent than the carbon dioxide everyone associates with global warming.
There are a number of reasons why we throw away so much of the food we buy. When food reaches ‘best before’ date, there is no need to consign it to the rubbish bin. Best before is a ‘quality’ cut off point set by the manufacturers. If the food has been stored properly it will still be edible some time after that date.
We often buy too much food at the supermarket, possibly due to those irresistible BOGOF offers (buy one get one free). Write a list and try sticking to it.
Most of us have our fridges set at the wrong temperature. For optimum performance they should be set between 3-5 degrees Celsius.
If you apply the ‘bottom-line’ rule, it is clear that if you throw-away 30% of the food you buy, you are wasting 30% of your money.
Do a quick calculation to see how much you are throwing away each year. If you spend £80 per week on food for you and your family then you’re wasting £1,248 per year of your hard-earned cash.
2: Improve the Energy Efficiency of Your Home
Energy efficiency in the home is all about reducing waste.
If your home is poorly insulated, e.g.: little or no loft insulation; has un-insulated cavity walls, or draughty doors and windows, then you are literally throwing your money away by helping to heat the outside of your house!.
Call your local Council and ask for energy efficiency for advice. If you can’t get assistance there, contact a registered and approved insulation company and ask for free survey of your property. There are usually grants available to assist off-setting the cost.
If you run your central heating with an old boiler, you will need to replace it at some point. When it finally expires, ensure that the replacement boiler is not ‘over-sized’ for you property, as this will cost you money in the long-run, as it will not be operating efficiently.
Make sure you have programmer and room thermostat fitted to control your boiler. Thermostatic radiators valve will also help save you money and help control the temperature in your home more effectively.
Take a look at the insulation on your hot water tank. If it is poorly insulated with ill-fitting jacket, have a replacement fitted.
Fit low energy lighting where possible. The quality, look and performance of low energy lighting is improving all the time. Fit low energy lighting to as many lighting points as possible, e.g. in the hall, bedrooms, bathrooms, outside, cloakrooms, landing.
You will be surprised how much money you can save by investing in making improvements to the energy efficiency of your home.
On a four bedroom detached house built in the early 1980’s with some loft insulation and the original boiler, you could save £400 per year on fuel bills by increasing the loft insulation, installing cavity wall insulation, fitting low energy lights and replacing the boiler with more efficient model.
3: Replace Your Gas Guzzler
With price of a barrel of oil spiraling upwards, there has never been a more important time for us to look at the fuel efficiency of the car we drive.
With petrol at over £6 per gallon you do not need to be Albert Einstein to work out that by looking to improve the fuel efficiency of the car we drive can save us some serious money.
If you drive a car that manages 35 miles to the gallon and you drive 10,000 miles per annum, then your fuel costs will be about £1,715 per year at current petrol prices.
When you replace your car and buy a model that achieves 45 miles to the gallon then you will save about £400 in a year.
There are lots more green measures you can take, each requiring a small change in your lifestyle and personal habits. How far you go is upto you, but by addressing these three issues first, you will make a difference to the environment and save money at the same time.
Bill Bailey is freelance writer on finance, cars, travel, computers and shopping. More of Bill’s articles offering red hot tips and advice can be found at [http://www.schnafflehound.com]