Go Green: Top 5 Easiest Ways to Save Money While Saving the Planet

From turning off the lights to using energy-efficient appliances, there are hundreds of ways to eco-nomize.

light switch with coin slot
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Turn Off the Lights
Monday, the United States Department of Energy (USDE), announced electricity rates will jump more than 10 percent this winter — the largest spike in 25 years. Rather than getting a second job, take the extra bit of time to power down and unplug when you're finished using electronics. When the five o'clock whistle blows, but before you "yaba-daba-dooooo" home, shut down your workstation — the whole thing, including printer, disk drive, and central processing unit. According to the United States Department of Energy, a year of nightly computer sleep will save you $90. If you'd rather not economize for your office, then at least try powering down at home. Tell your kids to shut down when they're done searching the Web, IM-ing, and doing their homework (if you're lucky). Make a habit out of unplugging at-rest cell phone chargers, iPod mounts, electronics on standby, and anything else that hemorrhages electricity and your money.
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Put on a Sweater
Thirty years ago, President Carter asked the country to turn down the thermostat and "put on a sweater." Carter wasn't making a fashion statement; he was encouraging Americans to conserve energy during the 1979 Oil Crisis. Sound advice never gets old. Considering we're in a just bit of an oil pinch — funny how history repeats itself — it might be a good idea to heed Carter's advice...if not for foreign policy and the environment, then at least to fatten our pockets. As Americans spend more than ever on heat, the Alliance to Save Energy claims a one-degree thermostat reduction can save 3 percent on your heating bill. I don't know about you, but I'd rather wear a cute sweater and spend my money on massages, fancy chocolates, and bourbon.
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Get Efficient with Energy Star
If you have a terrible memory, or just can't be bothered to unplug and power down, at least replace old and inefficient electronics — even if still working — with Energy Star-certified alternatives. Energy Star is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the USDE. It employs hundreds of energy wizards to identify and label (with a blue and white badge) the most energy-efficient products on the market. With over 18,000 highly efficient appliances, Energy Star products saved America a whopping $14 billion in 2006 — enough energy to avoid greenhouse gas emissions equal to 25 million cars.A single-family house revamped with Energy Star products will decrease energy use by 30%, salvaging the average American family $600 a year.
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Replace Your Lightbulbs
The greatest eco no-brainer of all. Do I really need to go into this one again?
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Buy Less Stuff
More stuff will only waste your money and the world's depleting resources. Reckless spending tends to leave us broke, guilty, and looking for storage space. When you do have to make a purchase, seek only the best--quality, highest-efficiency product available. If you're not afraid of cooties, consider the Salvation Army — far cheaper and more eco than any behemoth retailer. To learn more about how you can save money while saving the planet, visit greendandsave.com. Other excellent sources of information can be found on the USDE, EPA, and Energy Star websites.
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