Resolve to go green

5 eco-friendly tips that make it easy to help the environment – and your aching wallet.

Go green – to save some green.

While adopting more eco-friendly habits is certainly good for the environment, it is also good for your wallet. If you’re looking for practical ways to make your home more environmentally friendly – and save money at the same time – here are some tips.

Lights out for inefficient bulbs
Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) not only last ten times longer than incandescents, but they use 75 per cent less energy. And while inefficient light bulbs will be banned in Canada by 2012, you may want to start making the change now.

Households using CFLs will save about $50 a year, according to Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn. “Making the switch to more efficient lighting is one of the easiest and most effective things we can do to reduce energy use and harmful emissions,” he added.

“By banning inefficient lighting, we can reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by more than 6 million tons per year.”

The gradual ban will make allowances for situations where incandescent bulbs are the only practical alternative. Such exceptions would include some medical lighting or lights for some ovens. (Read more on the gradual ban in Canada.)

Control the flow
According to Statistics Canada, in 2004 the average daily residential water flow was 329 litres per capita. You can reduce this amount by installing a water efficient aerator in your bath faucet. Moen’s Water Saving Aerator, for example, can reduce water flow from the standard 8.32 litres per minute (lpm) to 5.7 lpm, the company says – which reduces overall consumption by 30 per cent.

And by switching from a bath to a shower, you save even more. A typical ten minute bath requires 114 – 265 litres of water versus 95 litres under a 9.5 lpm showerhead. For even more efficiency, consider installing a low-flow showerhead.

Cut back on plastic water bottles
It’s estimated that one billion plastic water bottles end up in landfills every year. A more environmentally friendly alternative is to use washable serving wear. (A full load of dishes and glasses loaded in an Energy Star-rated dishwasher only uses 15 litres of water.)

Let the sunshine in
During cooler months, keep your blinds or draperies open during the day to let in natural solar heat. This simple step can reduce your heating bills by 10 per cent. Blocking out sunlight with exterior blinds or shutters during the summer months can also cut your utilities by up to 33 per cent.

Schedule yearly check-ups
Have your furnace checked yearly to make sure it’s running properly and efficiently. Additionally, experts say your furnace should also be tuned every two years. By keeping up with furnace maintenance you’ll save about 10 per cent on your heating bills – and you’ll save approximately 2,500 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Turn it down a degree
According to the Alliance to Save Energy, you can reduce your utility bill by 5 per cent for every degree you lower your home’s temperature. To compensate, add layers of clothing or put on a sweater during the wintry months.