Tips to save money and reduce your environmental footprint

December 3, 2010 by
Filed under: Budget-friendly, Do-It-Yourself, Eco-Friendly, Energy Efficiency 

(ARA) – Are you afraid to turn up the heat in your house this winter because you consider your electric bill – and your carbon footprint – to be big enough? Saving money and reducing your carbon and water footprints are worthy goals you can spend many years striving to achieve. But here are a few ideas to help you get started reducing your energy bill and being eco-friendly.

* In the laundry room, consider using a dryer that steam cleans your laundry, so you don’t have to take it to the dry cleaners. The benefits can add up quickly each week. You can save time doing your laundry when you want, money by not paying for dry cleaning or on gas for the trip to and from the dry cleaners, and the environment by using water to steam clean your clothes, rather than some of the chemicals dry cleaning companies often use.

* Start making your own electricity in your utility room. Replace your furnace or boiler with ECR International’s freewatt heating system, which uses micro-CHP technology to generate heat and electricity for your home. This system works for natural gas fuel sources, and can generate up to half of your typical home’s annual electric needs through the engine generator, according to ECR. It basically burns the same amount of fuel as your current furnace, but generates additional electricity through the process to power other areas of your home.

“We wanted to spend as little money annually as possible on our fuel bills,” says Amy O’Connor of Swampscott, Mass., who uses a freewatt natural gas energy system in her colonial home. “We’ve seen incredible electrical savings, and it’s really a joy to turn our heat on every year because once the heat comes on – and it’s heat that we would be using anyway – we start to generate our own electricity and we see fantastic electrical savings every year. We knew when we purchased it that we were going to be happy with having a new heating system that was gas, but also having something that would lessen our carbon footprint. But really at the end of the day it was about saving thousands of dollars on an annual basis.”

The freewatt plus model, also available in propane, provides you with backup power that keeps your electricity on, even when the grid around you goes black. Additionally, you can add a water heater to the freewatt plus system to produce added electricity. You may be able to sell back electricity to your utility company if it has net metering.

* Keep your runoff clean. Landscape your property so the rain water that lands on it leaves as clean as when it fell from the sky. If your home will support it, you can develop a green roof to reduce your watershed amount. A smaller project you can work on around your home includes installing rain gardens with deep-rooted native plants that will allow the rainwater – and snow melt – to seep naturally into the ground, instead of rushing off into the storm water system. Collecting rainwater in barrels at the bottom of your drain spouts will also help you save on water usage because you can reuse that water for your plants in drier times.

You can accomplish your goals to save money and reduce your environmental footprint at home with just a little effort and energy. And as the temperature drops this winter – set the temperature where you want it, because being green doesn’t mean you have to be cold.

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2 Responses to “Tips to save money and reduce your environmental footprint”

  1. WholeBuffalo on December 16th, 2010 2:53 pm

    In most homes, the most efficient ways to cut electricity use are:
    Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents or LEDs. You cut electricity use 70 to 80% and the bulbs last 5-50 times as long.
    Improve attic sealing and insulation. Underinsulated attics quickly cool the house and make your furnace or boiler work much harder. Seal windows or gaps where warm air can escape from the house.
    Reduce water use, particularly hot water use. Hot water heaters can use 15%+ of the energy in the home. Use low flow showerheads, turn down the water heater to 122 degrees, and make sure it is well insulated.
    The freewatt systems only make sense if gas is cheap and electricity is very expensive in your area. For most users, it is a huge investment compared to efficiency improvements.

  2. Natalie on January 1st, 2011 9:01 pm

    Self power generation is definately the future. Like the ECR system mentioned in the article you can produce enough extra energy for your own needs as well as heat your home. In some countries (e.g. UK) it is even possible for micro power generators (households) to sell excess energy back to the power grid.