Here are 6 ways that going green can save you the green:
1. Throw a clothing swap.
Recession or not, we need our retail-therapy fix, right? Make a night of "shopping" by throwing a clothing-swap party with your friends. The rules: everyone has to bring laundered, good-condition clothing. Then you get to take home one piece of clothing for each item you brought. Or, you can work out a point system based on the relative value of the item, i.e. coats are worth two pieces of regular clothing, for instance.
Make sure there's music and refreshments, and you'll find it's possible to have a blast for free, while cutting back on waste at the same time.
2. Call on your countertop appliances.
Dust off that slow cooker! Small appliances use less energy, so use the microwave or toaster oven rather than the stove whenever you can. You can also enjoy the convenience of coming home to succulent, slow-cooked dinners. (TIP: Slow cookers are the ideal way to slow-cook and tenderize inexpensive but flavourful cuts of beef like brisket or round, as well as dried legumes.)
3. Turn down the heat in winter.
Lower your thermostat one or two degrees in winter and you'll cut your energy use. According to Natural Resources Canada, for every 1 degree Celsius you lower your thermostat, you can save 2 per cent on your heating bill.
4. Turn down your air conditioning in the summer.
In summer, cool it with the Arctic-like temperature setting. Don't use your air conditioner unless it's truly sweltering (a fan can usually do the trick just fine). Natural Resources Canada research has found that setting your room temp at 25 degrees Celsius nets you the most comfort for the least cost. Why pay your hard earned dollars to shiver? Combat global warming by warming up to summer.
5. Use power strips and turn them off.
Standby loss is the energy you waste (and pay for) simply by having appliances powered up even when they're turned off. Confused? Everyday home electronics, from TVs to computers, to cable boxes, DVDs and broadband modems, use hundreds of kilowatt-hours of energy per year, even when they're not in use.
The solution is to unplug them, but that can get laborious: the easy answer is to put your home office appliances on one power bar, your entertainment gadgets on another, and turn the power bars off when you turn in.
6. Drive smarter
Cars are a necessity for many busy households. Here's how to drive greener:
Don't load down your car with an unnecessary roof rack. The drag causes your car to consume more fuel. (So does driving with improperly inflated tires: maintain the correct tire pressure for your vehicle.)
Don't idle! Turn the engine off and restart it when you're ready to jet.
Cut your car use however you can: carpooling, taking transit, biking, blading or walking all help you save on gas and parking – and greenhouse gas emissions.
Find out ways you can reduce light pollution here.
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