It’s 2017 and that means it’s time for some money saving New Year’s resolutions. All of these are free or cheap to do so they’ll save cash quick. Having some more dough won’t hurt your bank account, and the energy they’ll save will help the planet too. Doing everything below could save you thousands of dollars a year, but even if you only do the Good option for a few you’ll still save a significant amount of money and energy. So what are you waiting for? Read on and get saving in 2017!
1. Only heat when you’ll really notice it
- Good: Turn thermostat down to 58 °F whenever you leave the house
- Better: Turn thermostat down to 58 °F whenever you go to bed
- Best: Program your thermostat to to drop to 58 °F whenever you normally leave for work or go to bed.
Bonus: Set it to 55 °F or below. Test this by taking a thermometer to the coldest parts of your house that have pipes on a cold night while the thermostat is set lower than 58 °F and confirming that it stays above 45 °F near your pipes so you know they won’t freeze.
2. Adapt to a cooler indoor temperature in the winter
- Good: Set thermostat 2 degrees below its current setting while at home
- Better: Set thermostat to 68 °F while at home
- Best: Set thermostat to 64 °F or lower while at home
Note: Wearing a sweater, fleece, or thermal underwear makes this much easier.
Note 2: Leaving your thermostat the same all day is not more efficient, here’s a detailed explanation why.
3. Reduce meat consumption
- Good: Eat less beef
- Better: Eat less dairy
- Best: Eat less lamb, pork, and chicken
Note: Proteins are expensive and Americans get way more than we need, so eating more fiber and less protein will save you money and help the planet.
4. Reduce car use
- Good: Bike or walk when you go shopping
- Better: Carpool to work/school
- Best: Bike/Walk/Bus to work/school
Bonus: Get a friend to bike/walk with you.
5. Increase lighting efficiency
- Good: Replace porch lights with LED bulbs
- Better: Replace outdoor flood lights with LED bulbs
- Best: Replace all lights in home with LED bulbs
Note: LEDs put less heat in your house than incandescent bulbs, so they save the most when you’re running the air conditioner (read more here). Outdoor bulbs aren’t helping heat your house in the winter so they’re the first ones to replace now. When summer rolls around you’ll save more by having LEDs inside your house. For some reason Lowe’s has had cheaper LEDs than anyone else for the last few years, sometimes less than a dollar per bulb. At these prices, replacing an incandescent with a LED will pay for itself in under 200 hours of use without even factoring in air conditioner savings. If you have the bulb on 4 hours a day, payback is less than 50 days.
6. Save water, especially hot water
- Good: Wash clothes using the cold or cool water setting
- Better: Replace your shower head with a cheap 1.25 GPM low flow model
- Best: Choose a song that’s shorter than 5 minutes and finish your shower before the song ends
Note: It takes a lot of energy to heat water, so you’ll save money faster if you reduce hot water usage than if you reduce cold.
7. Reduce paper waste
- Good: Use reusable cloth napkins instead of paper ones
- Better: Use reusable cloth rags instead of paper towels
- Best: Use a handkerchief instead of Kleenex
Bonus: Set up clean and dirty rag buckets in the kitchen to make washing easier.
8. Purchase mindfully
- Good: Bring reusable bags shopping
- Better: Try and buy products that promote sustainability or use less packaging
- Best: Buy less stuff in general. Go a day, week, month or even a year buying nothing but groceries.
A lot of people are scared by what 2017 will bring, but these simple money saving New Year’s resolutions can make it a lot better. Whether you fully accept the science on climate change, or your political bedrock beliefs prevent you from doing so, we can all agree that wasting money sucks. Why spend an extra dollar on energy that you don’t really need to use? Even the resolutions above that cost money (like replacing incandescent light bulbs with LEDs) are so cheap that they’ll have paid for themselves in just a few months. These resolutions save money so fast that they make sense for everyone, whether you’re renting or you own your home. True, building these resolutions into your life will take some work, but if you don’t think 2017 will be a year that calls for some financial badassity, you haven’t been paying attention.