5 Ways to Save Green by Going Green
Non-renewable energy comes at a price. The more of it you use, the more you’re going to pay. In the same way, our consumption of these energy resources comes at a price to our local, regional and global ecosystem – and its cost might be higher than we were ever willing to pay.
Unfortunately, there seems to be a commonly held misconception that it’s infeasible to offset our individual costs and those on the environment. Well, I’m here to tell you that this it’s totally feasible, and anybody can save green by going green.
You just have to do a little bit of homework before you get started.
Research, Research and More Research
What you’re trying to accomplish is a systemic switch in which type of energy you use, and how much you’ll be consuming. This is going to be a great deal more extensive than just changing out lightbulbs, so it’s going to require a good bit of research on your part.
Here are just a few questions you’ll want to ask yourself to give you a starting point:
- Where do you live? You need to determine your region’s climate and how your energy is commonly supplied in your local area.
- What is your living situation like? Do you rent or own? What are you currently using for energy utilities?
- What is your current budget for the project? Think of this switch as more of an investment than an overhead cost.
- What can you do (rather what do you want to do)? Some changes might not be possible, given your living situation, due to space or legal issues.
Know What Green Means to You
To some, going green means a few changes that will simply lessen energy consumption. To others, it means disconnecting from the grid entirely. Much of this has to do with your end objectives and initial reasons for going green in the first place.
For instance, you might simply want to help the environment, so decreasing your energy consumption is your primary goal – which means that you’ll be moving towards power-saving products.
For those who wish to take a more idealistic, off-grid approach, you might be interested in switching to solar, wind and geothermal HVAC systems.
Again, much of this is going to depend on the conclusions you reached from your research. Whatever the case may be, don’t bite off more than you can financially chew.
Think Like a Homesteader
One of my favorite systems is the Compost Water Heater, which harnesses the energy that decomposing biological materials naturally emit. The result: you can achieve water temperatures as high as 155-degrees using only the energy from your own compost pile.
While this particular system might not be doable for many, my point is simple: Think like a homesteader. Because a homesteader lives an off-grid life, the objective is to implement systems that produce renewable energy, which squeezes the most value out of every single watt.
Here are a few areas in your energy consumption to consider:
- Lighting and electronics
- Heating, hot water consumption and cooking
- Possible renewable energy resources that you can you produce (or already are, but you don’t yet have the system in place to harness it).
- The size of your property (bigger is not necessarily worse, because it will enable you to use that space for generating your own energy with wind, solar, compost, geothermal, methane, etc.)
- Relocation and downsizing
A homesteader lives by a simple principle: Determine if it’s possible to create or produce a resource on my own, before purchasing or consuming a resource that’s nonrenewable.
Buy Once, but Make It a Multipurpose Purchase
One area of going green that is often overlooked has to do with consumer goods and products. For instance, just because a manufactured product is energy saving doesn’t mean it costs an obscene amount of energy in order to produce it in the first place.
You absolutely have to consider an item’s manufacturing footprint if you want to lessen your own impact on the environment. Additionally, when it comes to disposable goods, it’s crucial that you use truly biodegradable products, or those goods will simply add to our existing landfill pollution problems.
A fantastic way to accomplish this is to leverage everything you use and consume to its maximum potential.
Equipment and tools that are considered modular (items that are multipurpose, like trailer-hitch attachments, compost-to-energy utilities and even rainwater storage systems) are extremely powerful energy savers and carbon footprint cutters.
Also consider that the footprint cost for shipping is massive, so buying American-manufactured goods tends to be the best way to go. There are two additional ecosystem sustaining benefits in purchasing American-made goods:
- Manufacture quality tends to be higher, meaning that the equipment will last longer and perform better over time. Purchasing cheaper overseas-made products can be very wasteful and costly in the long run.
- Most other manufacturing nations do not have (or follow) the same laws on waste, energy consumption and pollution as that of American companies.
Monitor Your Energy Usage
While you might be able to install all of these green systems, harness your own renewable resources and greatly limit your carbon footprint, you might still be consuming far more energy than you think. How do you actually know the amount of power you’re using? Measuring energy consumption isn’t exactly like drawing a line on a gas tank.
While this is No. 5 on the list, it’s a pointer that could easily take the No. 1 spot in terms of importance. Without a comprehensive energy usage monitoring system, you’d never actually be able to ascertain how much energy you’re saving – especially if you’ve moved some of these systems off-grid.
Essentially, not having a monitoring system is like trying to have a more frugal budget without having access to your bank account statements, which means you’re basically flying blind. A comprehensive energy-monitoring system would let you know:
- How much energy you’re saving
- How efficiently your own utility systems are running
- What to improve if something is drawing too much power (or a system isn’t producing enough)
Going green might cost you up front, but if you consider it an investment, then doing your part in saving the environment will soon pay for itself.