10 ways to go GREEN and save more than $500 each year

11/15/2012  |  JAMIE TURNER
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Want to save money and help Mother Nature along the way? Here are some health-based options to do just that.

Going green makes sense — protecting the environment makes life better in many ways. When you can save green, watching out for Mother Nature becomes even more appealing.

1. Clean Up Your Indoor Air

This is another health savings tip, because indoor air pollution can affect you physically. Indoor air pollution includes mold, natural gas, and pesticides that you can track into the house.

2. Change Heating and Cooling Filters When You Pay Your Electric Bill

It may sound pretty extreme, but if you have it makes sense. It also saves money - your heating and air units will act more efficiently, and you can save more money by buying filters in bulk. Changing your furnace filters on a monthly basis can save as much as 5 percent on your heating bills - as much as $100 a year.

3. Switch Off the Light

Many people use light during the day. Many times, it’s needed. But instead of leaving the light on when you’re not in the room, just switch it off. Even better, use energy-saving bulbs: for every five you change, you can save an average of $27 a year. Common sense can go a long way and pay off over time.

4. Drive More Efficiently

Take simple and safe precautions. Make sure your tires are inflated properly. Take off your roof rack to cut down on drag. Boost mileage by getting regular tune-ups. Help the environment, and yourself, by walking or biking for short trips.

One recent college study found tires on campus under-inflated by an average of 20 percent. At the time, gas was $3 per gallon, so the students worked it out that drivers would save $432 per year based on typical driving. If gas is $2 a gallon, you could save about $285 annually.

5. Reuse What You Can

Get reusable water bottles instead of buying bottled water: if you consumed the suggested daily amount of water — eight 8-ounce glasses — the cost would be five cents per day. The annual cost would be only $18.25. With the cost of a 12-ounce bottle of water at $1, the daily cost would be $5.33 and the annual cost would total $1945.45. While this number is extreme, it’s easy to spend more than $500 annually on bottled drinks including water, juice, tea and soda.

If you pack a lunch, buy a lunch bag and use reusable plastic containers instead of buying disposable baggies and brown paper bags.

One year of disposable lunches — brown paper bags ($26 at $4.50 pack) plus snack baggies ($85) plus bottled water or juice ($260) equals $371.

One year of reusable lunches — cloth lunch bag ($7) plus reusable water bottle ($12) plus plastic containers ($7) plus snack bags ($3) plus cloth napkins ($8) equals $37.

6. Wash Clothes Only When You Have a Full Load

Two socks or a full load require the same amount of energy to wash. You’ll save money on your water bill when you wash clothes less often. Front-loading washers also can save you money: anywhere between $28 and $137 annually. To be safe, we’ll say you save $50.

7. Use Cold Water Whenever Possible

Home laundering can account for as much as 36 percent of your total household hot water use. You can save 90 percent of the energy you use to wash clothes when you switch to a cold wash. A switch to a cold-water detergent may cost a little more per load, but it evens out with larger loads. Also, reduce your water heater temperature to 120ºF. It makes no sense to cool water that’s too hot to use. To put in perspective, washing your clothes in hot instead of cold for a year uses more electricity than leaving the refrigerator door open for a year.

What It Means

By following the tips outlined above, you can save more than $500 in the coming year. Slight changes make a big difference.

Jamie Turner is a Human Capital Leader at Humana. She joined Humana in 2008 to lead the development of the My Money, My Health, a Guide to Financial Fitness program. She has 14 years experience in fi nancial services, human resources, and organizational development.
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