Going green is all the rage these, but is going green good for the environment AND your wallet?
We all know that preserving the planet will have limitless benefits — especially in the years to come. Who can put a cost on that? Even if saving the planet is the ultimate goal, you’d be surprised to find that some green practices can also save you money, too.
Here are some common ways to go green along with how likely you are to save money in the process.
Recycling is the act of collecting used materials that can be used to make new materials. Though you might not see any immediate impact on your wallet with recycling, you might see some cost savings when you purchase items made of recycled products.
For example, recycled aluminum is more cost-effective than new aluminum and could help keep costs low for aluminum products.
In some states, you may also be able to redeem some materials for a small amount of money, usually 5 to 10 cents per bottle or container.
If you are really looking to save money, you might consider reusing items in addition to your recycling efforts.
Think about glass jars or plastic containers your food already comes in. Instead of using Tupperware to store leftovers, you could use the packaging you already have on hand instead.
The same works for plastic bags you get from the grocery store. Keep these bags on hand and use them the line smaller wastebaskets instead of buying new plastic trash bags for them.
The zero-waste movement is making it more popular to use your own bags and containers, often in exchange for a small discount on your final bill. For example, there are stores that will give you a credit for bringing your own packaging to carry home groceries or bulk food products.
Driving electric cars
A 2018 study by the University of Michigan found that the total cost of ownership for an electric car is $485 per year versus $1,117 for gas vehicles. It’s official. Owning an electric car can actually save you money!
For many years, it seemed like the verdict was still out when these newer, environmentally-friendly cars came on the market. Some really wondered if the cost to buy, finance, and maintain electric or hybrid cars was worth making the switch from gas-powered vehicles.
Now that technology has improved and the cost of electric cars have come down, people are reassessing the total cost of ownership (TCO) for electric vehicles. The good news is that it seems like the TCO for electric cars is less than owning a gas-fueled car.
Some factors that contribute to the lower cost of ownership include:
- Lower purchase costs for the vehicle
- Lower more, stable costs for electricity versus gas
- Less maintenance and parts replacement
- Tax credits
- Charger rebates (offered in some states)
- Additional incentives, credits, refunds, etc.
Keep in mind that the TCO for electric vehicles can vary based on the make, model, purchase price and interest rate for financing.
In the end, you’ll need to research your electric car purchase and see if it makes sense for your specific circumstances.
Solar panels can be a little trickier when it comes to determining cost efficiencies. Your savings with solar panels can depend on a number of factors like the kind of house you have, your individual energy usage, and even geographic location (the amount of sunlight you get per day matters how much solar energy you can capture.)
Essentially, a number of factors can help you get the most out of a solar panel installation. The ideal scenario would be that you live in a sunny area, can take advantage of federal and local tax credits as well as Solar Renewable Energy Certificates or SRECs that allow you to sell energy to your local utility.
Of course, the highest cost of using a solar panel system to power your home is with the installation and maintenance. The idea is that you’ll shell out a large amount of money to install or lease a system and see if the total cost of ownership justifies your energy savings.
The best way to a good cost-benefit analysis would be to consult with a solar system expert who will examine all the variables pertinent to your situation to produce the best, energy efficient outcome. You can also use a solar calculator to help estimate your savings with a solar panel system.
Get a windmill
Like electric cars and solar panel systems, this massive investment must be totally justified by your energy savings.
The bad news? The high cost of the windmill (or wind turbines) installation and maintenance itself might make this green alternative a little too pricey for the average American.
Furthermore, most American cities just aren’t ideal for windmills. At present, the technology requires high wind speeds (at least 10 mph) to be a cost-effective form of energy. Most of the country doesn’t have wind speeds high enough to produce enough energy that will amount to substantial energy savings.
Though you shouldn’t count out wind turbines entirely, the truth is that they make the most sense for people who live in extremely windy places. If these windy places also offer tax credits, rebates or other incentives to offset installation and maintenance — all the better.
With a lot of green options, it might take time for technology and manufacturing costs to decrease for wind turbines. Once the technology improves and becomes more efficient, wind turbine energy might make sense for more people down the line.
Minimalism is all about living with less when you can.
Though the minimalism lifestyle looks different for everyone, some of the money saving forms that are also good for the environment could include:
- Limiting your wardrobe to just a few items
- Moving into a smaller living space
- Buying items second hand
- Bike or walk instead of driving
- Using digital books instead of paper books
As you can see, these are just a few ways to go green and put some money back into your pocket at the same time.
Going green can sometimes seem like a double edge sword — the time, energy, and money it takes might seem to outweigh the immediate benefits or present no cost savings at all. Yet, it still makes sense to go green because the future of our planet is worth it.
Then, there are some green practices that be good for both your wallet and the planet.
The key is to do what you can with what you have and then try to do a little more as you are able. Every little bit can make a huge difference for the environment and, in some cases, our finances.
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