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51 Money Saving Ideas For Eco Friendly Living

51 Money Saving Ideas For Eco Friendly Living

One of the wonderful things about being eco friendly is that it often saves you money too. It’s really not the time consuming, expensive challenge many think it is. There are lots of simple, money saving things you can do to be a little kinder to the planet.

In the Home

1. Change your lightbulbs

As your lightbulbs burn out, switch them for CFLs or even LEDs. These may cost more, but should make it up nicely in savings. CFLs and LEDs can use 25%-80% less energy than incandescent bulbs and may last 3-25 times longer.

programmable thermostat

2. Use a programmable thermostat and watch your settings

A programmable thermostat can help you save money by changing its settings on a schedule. Your house doesn’t need to be kept at the same temperature when you’re away for hours or when you’re sleeping. It saves the trouble of turning the thermostat up or down yourself throughout the day.

Also try keeping your home a little warmer in summer and cooler in winter. For my family, a slightly warmer house means the kids are a little more willing to go outside during the summer. A house that rarely runs the air conditioner isn’t as much fun to stay in as one that is kept cooler. I like that little benefit too. My air conditioner doesn’t turn on until 84 degrees, which is comfortable when you’re used to it and use fans.

3. Shield windows that let in a lot of heat

If you know which windows let in too much summer heat, block them during the day. This can be as simple (and ugly) as putting large pieces of cardboard in the window. A mylar film can also help – the cheap way is to cut up a mylar emergency blanket. If you want things to look better, consider insulating window coverings.

4. Use fans instead of air conditioners

As I said above, I use my air conditioner very little. Ceiling fans, stand fans, box fans, whatever you have available, it’s cheaper to use than your air conditioner, and it’s amazing how much cooler air feels when it’s moving around the room.

ceiling fan

5. Dress warmer in winter

Rather than heat the entire house in winter, dress a little warmer. It’s much cheaper to put on that sweater you already own than to pay for the energy to run the heater.

6. Check your furnace and air conditioner filters

The filters for your furnace and air conditioner gather dust as they’re used – that’s kind of the point. But over time the dust makes them less efficient and make your units work harder. Consider whether you want a filter than can be cleaned and put back in rather than disposable filters – the reusable ones cost more upfront but will save you money over time.

7. Check your weatherstripping

Weatherstripping around your doors and windows works best when it’s in good condition. It will make heating or cooling your home more efficient by limiting how much air escapes from your home.

8. Use the dishwasher

Generally speaking, the dishwasher uses less water than washing dishes by hand. Modern dishwasher detergents even work better if you don’t do an excessive amount of rinsing, as they react with the food particles left on there. Don’t leave chunks of food, of course.

9. Wash clothes in cold water

Most modern detergents don’t need warm water to work – cold is just fine for them. Sometimes hot water is worse for stains, as it can set them rather than remove them. Save warm or hot water washes for when they’re needed, such as for family members with allergies who need to be sure that dust mites don’t survive in the laundry.


10. Line dry your clothes in warm weather

If the weather is warm enough line dry your clothes when possible. If the weather is really hot, this can be about as fast as using your dryer, but doesn’t cost anything beyond the costs of the clothesline and clothespins.

Some homeowner’s associations don’t allow clotheslines, which is really a pity. Yes, clothes out drying are unattractive, but they shouldn’t be out all the time. Oh, and put your underwear and such in the middle row, between other things you’re drying, if you don’t want the neighbors to see them.

11. Install low flow faucets aerators

Low flow faucets aerators will help you use less water for many purposes. It won’t make a difference if you’re filling up a pot, but will help when you’re washing your hands.

12. Install low flow showerheads

If you don’t already have a low flow showerhead, you probably use more water than you need during your shower. If you want to go even a little better, choose one that allows you to decrease or increase the water flow during your shower – mine has an extra control that allows the water to be turned way down when I don’t need a lot, such as when lathering up.

13. Install low flow toilets

Low flow toilets can use quite a bit less water than conventional toilets. Most do a good job handling solid wastes. If you’re concerned, or want to try saving still more water, look into a dual flush toilet, which uses still less water for liquid waste, but has a high volume flush that is still efficient for solids.

14. Fix water leaks

Water leaks don’t seem like much more than a minor annoyance, but they can waste gallons of water a day. Most are easy to fix on your own – just make sure you turn off the water first. There are plenty of videos and instructions online to help you do the work… or call the plumber if that’s too much outside your comfort zone.

15. Charge your devices on a power strip

Many people have a regular place where they charge their cell phones, tablets and laptops. If you put the chargers on a power strip, you can turn it off when you aren’t charging anything, which saves electricity. You might not unplug your chargers between uses, but the chargers still use electricity even without the device plugged in. Using a power strip takes care of that phantom load, provided you turn it off when you’re done charging.

16. Turn off computers overnight

It’s not too uncommon to leave your computer on overnight, but turning it off can save money. At the very least, make sure that your power settings save as much energy as possible once you’ve left it alone for 10-15 minutes.

17. Pay bills online and go to paperless billing

Paying bills online is easy and cheaper than buying stamps to mail your payments in. Many companies even let you schedule your payments to go in automatically, so you don’t have to think about them so long as you have enough money to pay in your account.

18. Rent tools you rarely need

If you need a tool for a project and aren’t likely to need it again for some time, look into renting it rather than buying one new. Home Depot rents a wide range of tools for various projects, for example. You could also try borrowing from a neighbor so long as you’re sure to return it promptly and in good condition.

19. Make your water heater more efficient

Turn your water heater down to 120 degrees. That’s hot enough for most purposes. You can also buy an insulating blanket for your water heater so that it doesn’t have to heat the water as often. Remember you can turn the water heater down when you go on vacation – not like you need hot water when you aren’t home.

20. Make your own cleaning supplies

Many cleaners are cheap and easy to make at home. MY favorite ingredient to use is vinegar. Watered down and put in a squirt bottle, it replaces many other cleaners. Baking soda is good when you need an abrasive, and there’s a helpful reaction if you spray vinegar on top of it. Best of all, such ingredients are much safer around kids and pets.

21. Replace old appliances with Energy Star models

As the time comes to replace your old appliances, make sure you choose Energy Star models to replace them. This rating is available for many appliances, such as refrigerators, dishwashers, TVs, computers and more.


22. Eat out less

From bringing lunch to school or work to just eating more meals at home, eating out less can save a lot of money. It’s also a good way to know what’s going into your food. There’s also less food waste when you eat out less.

chayote squash soup

23. Cook from scratch

There are times when using prepared foods in your kitchen is a real help. However, these foods are usually less healthy, cost more and have more packaging to throw into the trash than foods you make from scratch. Meals you make yourself usually taste better too.

24. Eat less meat

Meat is usually one of the most expensive ingredients in meals. Meat production creates a lot of greenhouse gases, so eating less of it is good for the environment as well as your wallet. It takes time to learn how to cook more meatless meals, but there are plenty of resources out there:

25. Eat your leftovers

Most Americans waste a lot of food, especially when it comes to leftovers. You can pack up leftovers for easy lunches, or even freeze meals that reheat well so you don’t have to eat the same thing over again right away.

26. Use a pressure cooker

A pressure cooker can be used to greatly decrease cook times, up to 70%. That means they use less energy to cook your meals. You can cook roasts, chicken, soup, chili, desserts and more. I like to pressure cook artichokes.

27. Quit using paper towels

Paper towels are convenient yet wasteful. Cloth towels are generally better at cleaning up spills and cheaper to use.

28. Don’t use disposable dishes

Do your best to avoid using disposable dishes. While this is difficult when you go on a picnic or have a lot of guests over, it’s not impossible.

29. Use cloth napkins

Rather than use paper napkins, make the switch to cloth. They cost more initially, but will save money in the long run. Keep a nice set for company, and don’t stress too much about stains on the ones you use daily. Cloth napkins don’t add that much to your laundry – mine would be a very small load if washed alone, but they aren’t. They get washed with other things.

30. Use reusable drink bottles

From your daily coffee to drinking water, providing your own reusable container is better than getting something that has to be thrown out. Some coffee shops will give you a small discount if you provide your own cup.

I adore my stainless steel water bottle. Not only will it last just about forever, but I can go anywhere and carry it, rather than look for a drinking fountain or buy bottled water. Mine is insulated, so even if I leave it in the car for a time on a hot day, my water is still cool.

31. Plan your meals

Another source of food waste is forgetting to use ingredients you’ve already bought. Plan your meals before you hit the grocery store, not after, so that you have the ingredients you want when you want them. It’s so wasteful to think you’re going to use that broccoli in a meal, only to realize that it went bad before you got to it. Much better to buy it, knowing what day you’ll use it and what you’ll use it with.

32. Buy in bulk when reasonable

If it’s reasonable, buy things in bulk. Obviously, if it’s something that will go bad before you can use it, bulk is a bad idea. It’s also bad if you don’t have storage for it. But when storage and spoilage aren’t a problem, bulk saves money and product packaging as a general rule. It also means you don’t have to buy that item at the store as often.

For You & Your Family


33. Borrow books from the library

Borrowing books from the library is a great way to keep up on your reading without spending a fortune. Many even allow you to borrow ebooks on your Kindle or other device. Some also rent movies on DVD.

34. Check out resale and thrift stores before buying new

Resale and thrift stores can have great finds at great prices for clothes and other items. It may take some time to find the right shops for your tastes, but that can be part of the fun.

35. Make your own skin care products

Many store bought skin care products aren’t as kind to your skin as they should be, and may contain chemicals that do more harm than good. It’s easy to make certain kinds of skin care products in your own home, and they’re often wonderful for your skin.

36. Make your own shampoo

Homemade shampoo is easy to make. Some go as simple as using baking soda to wash their hair and use an apple cider vinegar rinse. It works well for some people, but others say it can be damaging. There are recipes for pH balanced homemade shampoos out there as well.

Outdoors/In the Garden

37. Plant trees

Trees in your yard can help save money by shading your home in summer. Plant them where they’ll help keep the worst of the sun away during the summer. Trees also make the house look better, and if you plant fruit trees you even get some fresh food out of the deal. That said, fruit trees may not grow tall enough to be great shade trees. Still, there’s nothing like fresh picked fruit from your own tree.

38. Grow your own vegetables

I admit it, our luck at this one has been horrible lately – chalk it up to poor soil and a cinderblock fence that tends to overheat the plants in our garden area. But when it works, you get delicious vegetables you’ve grown yourself, and it can save you money.

The key here is to not overspend on setting up your garden. Don’t spend a fortune setting things up, especially if you’re a beginner. Start simple and build it up over time.

Tomatoes are generally easy to grow, as are some salad greens. We’ve had some luck with some volunteer strawberries which appeared in our garden a few years ago – seriously, we didn’t plant them, but they grow really well for us.

39. Compost

Composting is especially good if you’re already growing your own garden. You end up with wonderful fertilizer for your garden, all from things you were throwing out anyhow. Be aware of what you put in – meats and such may attract rodents, but yard waste and uncooked vegetable scraps are generally okay. You can also compost cardboard and many other things. provide links

If you don’t have a garden, many communities now have yard waste or composting bins. They may be very limited or very generous in what they accept – check first.

40. Xeriscape and use native plants

Xeriscaping can cut down your outdoor watering costs tremendously. Changing your landscaping can have significant initial costs but can pay back when you rarely have to water. If you live in an area where droughts are a problem, check with your city or water district for incentives to xeriscape. Incentives can take a nice chunk out of the expense.


41. Mulch

Using mulch around your plants cuts down on weeds and cuts down on how much water they need by trapping moisture in the soil.

42. Get a rain barrel

A rain barrel can help keep the cost of watering your yard down. This can be great if you’re in a drought prone area. It’s not a lot of water unless you get really serious about your rain barrels – 50 or so gallons go quickly, but it’s a help. Please check the laws in your area – you aren’t allowed to capture rainwater in some areas.

43. Mow your lawn with a reel mower

Using a reel mower rather than an electric one or gas powered one can save a lot of money, and current reel mowers aren’t that hard to use. They’re also much quieter than powered mowers.


44. Carpool

Carpooling to and from work is best if you have coworkers who live nearby and are on the same schedule. It isn’t for everyone. However, when it works you get to split the gas bill, have a little company on the way to work, and pollute less. When you can make carpooling work, it’s a really great deal all around.

45. Bike to work

This only works if your work is close enough and if you can handle being a little sweaty after your ride. Still, it can be a good money saver plus you won’t need to spend so much time in the gym.

46. Use public transportation

If you live in a region with good public transportation, this is one of the best ways to get to work and possibly to run errands. Take a look at the options in your area and decide if it will work for you.

47. Choose a more fuel efficient car when you replace your current one

When the time comes that you need to replace your current vehicle, be sure that fuel efficiency is one of the factors you consider. Over the life of the car, this can be a huge savings and it will pollute less.

48. Drive sensibly

If you keep to the speed limit, and don’t accelerate or brake aggressively, you will probably save on gas. Some cars now tell you what your average mileage is, which can be a great motivator to do better.

49. Check your tires

If your tires are properly inflated, you will get better gas mileage in your car. Check your tire pressure monthly.

Getting Rid of Stuff

50. Recycle your old electronics for money

Old electronics don’t belong in the trash. There are companies that will recycle them properly, and some will even pay you. It’s easy to find places that will take in your old cell phone – other electronics may be more difficult.

Amazon Trade-In
Cash For Electronic Scrap USA
Mail in Mobile

There are many other places you can recycle or resell your old electronics – just make sure that you have securely deleted your old personal information before you send old phones, tablets, computers and such in.

51. Have a yard sale

When you have things to get rid of, have a yard sale so that others can use the things you don’t want anymore. Call up a thrift store for things that don’t sell or if yard sales just aren’t your thing.

Money’s Tight? What Better Reason to Go Green?

Times continue to be tough for many families. It’s just hard to bring enough money in. You need to cut back on spending to get by.

Does that mean being green is out? No way!

Having less money is a wonderful reason to be eco friendly. Simply put, many green and eco friendly products cost less in the long run, and sometimes that long run is a pretty short run too.

Packing Snacks in Reusable Bags

Reusable bags can seem a bit pricey upfront, but if you compare the cost to what you’d spend on plastic baggies, it doesn’t take that long to make up what you spent on them. Just don’t get too fancy on your initial purchases. You can buy simple cotton muslin drawstring bags for as little as $3.

This is great for when you’re on the go as a family. Kids often want snacks for in the car or for during whatever activity you’re planning. Plastic baggies may be the common solution, but you’re still going to have to take them to the trash. Not much more effort to take your reusable bags home.

These can also be used when shopping at the grocery store for carrying produce. This may not be a money saver as such, although some stores will give a discount for using your own bags. But you’ll be using much less plastic in your life if you bring a bag.

Resetting the Thermostat

How’s the weather in your area? Are you thinking about the cost of heating or cooling your home?

Change the setting of your thermostat to save money on your bills. It doesn’t take much to make a difference. Just dress a little warmer in cool weather, and cooler in warm weather, plus allow your body to adapt to the temperatures of the season. Human bodies are hugely adaptable to weather, and if you rely less on heating and air conditioning to perfectly manage the temperature of your home, you will adapt to the season in time.

Eat Less Meat

Meat production has a huge environmental cost. It’s also kind of pricey at the store. Eat more vegan and vegetarian meals to save money.

It will take time to figure out what you like if you haven’t eaten many vegetarian meals in the past. Don’t be afraid to experiment. I’ve developed a liking for beans, quinoa, couscous and other ingredients that make for great vegetarian entrees. Vegetables… well, I’ve always liked them.

If you can’t afford it, don’t go organic for most produce. You should not be bankrupting yourself over food.

But you can grow a garden for fairly little money if you behave yourself. Don’t get all fancy about it, buying planter boxes and so forth if money’s tight. Just make a basic garden and grow your family some vegetables and herbs. Don’t forget to compost to make some great, cheap fertilizer for your garden.

Use a Clothesline

Using a clothesline is particularly practical during the summer. The sun will dry your clothes for free!

If you have homeowner’s association issues this can be challenging, as I well know. But you may be able to use a mobile clothes rack that you can take down after use, especially if it keeps everything below the top of your fence. It’s not a problem if no one else can see it!

You can also use a clothes rack indoors. Place it near a sunny, open window if you can.

If you’re concerned about crunchy clothes and towels from line drying, simply take them off the line when they’re almost dry, and finish the drying process in the dryer. You will still have used far less energy.

Make Your Own Cleaning Products

Know that cabinet full of cleaning products? You really don’t have to buy them for the most part. Making cleaning products at home is pretty easy.

The main ingredients you will need are baking soda and vinegar. You can buy these in larger packages to keep the overall cost down. The baking soda provides a bit of grit for scrubbing. Lemon juice can also help.

Keep a spray bottle of watered down vinegar ready for regular cleaning. You can use this for many cleaning jobs around the house.

If you want a little extra action on a tough cleaning job, sprinkle the baking soda on the area first, then spray with vinegar. The two will react, just as they do in the old volcano science fair experiment. The reaction will help you to clean up many kinds of messes.

Buy Used

Thrift stores and resale shops are your friends, and a delightful way to be green. When you buy used products, not only do they cost less but they aren’t using up new resources. They were made, someone else bought them and finished using them, now you can use them.

It’s amazing the quality you can get used. Clothes may be lightly worn or even not worn at all when they hit the thrift shops. Dishes will still work as dishes always do. Same for pots and pans. You can still read the books.

Yet they all cost a fraction of what they did originally.

These may not be the big things you dream of doing for the environment, but they will make a difference. We can’t all go off grid and grow all our own food. Many of us just don’t have the money to even start that process. Do the eco friendly things that fit into your budget and lifestyle, and encourage others to do the same.

Is Being Green Getting a Bad Rap?

It always amazes me when people start talking about global warming being wrong. It’s as though they think that’s the only issue that matters… not to mention that they often have a poor understanding of the entire issue. Then they’re sometimes critical of the efforts other make to be green, as though it’s foolish.

I just don’t get it.

It’s foolish to do things than can save money? That pollute less? That use fewer resources?

So many of the easy green things to do have little or nothing to do with global warming specifically. They have to do with recognizing that there are many solid reasons to try to take better care of our planet. There’s kind of a shortage of alternatives in our solar system just now.

Lots of the things you can do that are environmentally friendly are budget friendly too. That’s a pretty nice deal, especially when so many families are struggling to get by. That they’re also less polluting, healthier and create less waste are additional benefits.

Making your own homemade cleaners, for example. Vinegar and baking soda are cheap and can clean many parts of your house. They’re cheap and nontoxic.

It really doesn’t matter to me what you think of global warming. Whether we’re right or wrong on that one, there are other issues to consider. There’s ocean acidification. Ground water pollution. Air pollution. And just where is all that garbage going anyhow? What about wildlife? This planet needs more than us, you know.

These are the things that make being green important, not just global warming. I’d be delighted to be wrong on that one. On the other hand, I’d sure hate to disagree about it and get that answer wrong. Which consequences have the chance of being worse?

No, being green isn’t easy. There are a lot of habits to break, a lot of temptations to avoid. But it can be done.

Think before you shop and again before you buy. Do you really need it? Is it the best option? Will it last? Can you buy it used? Will someone else be able to use it when you’re done with it?

There are a lot of things you can buy where those will be excellent questions to consider. The answers you come up with can really help with the decision process and keep you from buying things that really don’t meet your needs.

Sure, as individuals we’re all “the little guy” but that doesn’t matter. Get enough people together and there is a difference, one that corporations will notice, and that’s where the bigger differences in pollution and similar issues can occur. But it almost always has to start with the little guy. If we regular people don’t care, who else will?

So be green. Be unashamed. And encourage those you know to do likewise. Don’t let the arguments about global warming and such get you down. There’s much more to consider.

Is Being Thrifty Bad for the Economy? What About the Environment?

Being thrifty became popular again with this most recent recession. Not for any environmental reasons, but because people had to.

But it’s kind of nice to think about how being thrifty also means you’re likely having less of an impact on the environment.

Some people are concerned, of course, that the new popularity of being thrifty is going to slow the economic recovery. And I would imagine they’re right. But I can’t help but feel that’s a good thing some ways.

Just think about how much your average American tends to waste. It’s quite a bit.

If less is wasted because we’re buying less, that’s going to be generally good for the environment.

It’s not perfect. Sometimes the cheapest items aren’t the best for the environment. But there are an awful lot of environmentally friendly products out there that make good sense for people who are really only interested in being thrifty, as they save money over time and on a short enough scale to be interesting.