I’m often asked for simple money-saving tips that can also help families live “greener.” Well, here are 3 easy tips that could save a family of 4 almost $6,500 a year.
– Kill Phantom Loads: many appliances draw energy even when they are off (this is called a "phantom load") and the only way to ensure they aren’t drawing energy is to unplug them or buy a device like a Smart Strip (~$35.) Smart Strips sense when you’ve turned an electronic device off and cuts the phantom load for you. Phantom loads can account for as much as 13% of a household energy bill! According to the Alliance to Save Energy the average American household spends about $1,400 a year on energy bills (which seems low to me.) So you could save $182+ a year with this simple tip.
– Shop local. One estimate states that the average American meal travels 1,500 miles to get to your table which accounts for a lot of gasoline use and carbon dioxide creation. When you shop at a farmer’s market you are ensuring that your food is coming from a local supplier. Plus, when you buy from the farmer, you know the person. They are not a faceless company that you can’t hold accountable. When I get dry apples from my apple farmer, the next week he makes up for it! Plus, it’s MUCH cheaper than buying in a store. I like to use organic lemons as my benchmark. At the farmer’s market I pay from 25 – 50 cents per lemon (depending on the season.) At a store they will be anywhere from $1.00 – $1.50 each. From personal experience, I’ve cut my produce bill by 30-40% by shopping at a farmer’s market. That’s about $2,080 in savings annually for my household of 2-people.
– Go waste free for lunch. Which is just another way of saying “use a lunchbox!” A stainless steel water bottle starts at about $15. A plastic bottle of water costs about $1. So the stainless steel bottle pays for itself in about 2-weeks. So in a year you will save yourself at least $235 just with that one change. Switch to reusable lunch bags, sandwich wrappers and containers and you can save yourself as much as $2.07 per lunch or $517 per person, per year (50-weeks x 5 days a week with $1 water and $1.07 in packaging.)