Greening up your life doesn’t have to be difficult. There are lots of simple things that you can do (like using cloth bags and reusable cups and bottles) to accomplish this goal. A lot of people know this but they still hold back in making important changes because those changes often cost a lot of money. Sometimes it can feel like the bigger the change, the more money it will cost.
In this post, we’re going to discuss how to go green while staying on a budget and not find yourself in financial trouble.
Step One: Negotiate Your Rates
Most of us live in states where the energy industry is regulated, so we don’t really have a choice about who provides our power. If you live in a state like Texas or Georgia or one of the states in the Northeast Corridor, you have some options. The energy markets in these states have been deregulated, which means that there are multiple power companies competing for your money.
Spend some time doing your research and find out if there are companies that will help you save on electricity or gas costs. You could knock your bill down quite a bit without having to make any changes in your home at all!
Step Two: Go Slowly
It’s easy to get totally absorbed in a project and feel like you have to accomplish it right now–this very minute! Unfortunately, while this route might feel more satisfying it is also more expensive. It’s good to space out your green upgrades so that they are easier for you to afford. For example, you know that LED bulbs are the most energy and cost efficient bulbs on the market. You also know that they run about $20 per bulb (ouch!). Instead of running out and buying hundreds of dollars worth of bulbs right now and changing out all of your lights, go slowly. Switch the bulbs out as they need replacing. Or, buy a new bulb every week or month until they’ve all been switched.
You can use this approach with other areas of your home as well.
Step Three: Make Plans
You will have an easier time going slowly if you plan out your “green renovation.” Create a list of the things that you want to do to reduce your home’s carbon footprint. These can be little things, like buying a drying rack to use during the winter months and bigger things like installing a solar panel on the roof. Write them all down. Then go through and organize the list into actions you can take right now/each paycheck without running your bank account dry and the things for which you’ll need to save up. Then, order the big items by importance. This way, you feel good about working toward your goal but you don’t have to worry about taking out a second mortgage to cover expenses.
Step Four: Create a Savings Plan
There are lots of great ways to save up for larger purchases over time. Stashing away, say, ten bucks a week into a “green fund” will net you $520 after a year. That’s not too shabby! You could repaint a few rooms with VOC free paint for that amount!
Whatever you do, do not go into debt to make green upgrades to your home. Yes, green upgrades can sometimes be written off on your taxes (which, hopefully, would help pay down that debt) but a lot of those tax credits and deductions have expired or will be expiring soon. You don’t want to take out more money than you can afford to repay. It’s better to save up over time.
Step Five: Shop for Bargains
This comes last because it’s better to shop for bargains once you’ve saved up the money to pay for something full price. You’ll be less likely to make compromises on quality this way.
What are some of the things you’ve done to save money on your green upgrades? Share your suggestions with the rest of the class!