January 13th, 2014 - Category: Money
Many people associate the idea of going green with high expenses, but you don’t have to install solar panels or buy pricey organic items to live an eco-friendly lifestyle. In fact, there are simple green steps you and your kids can take each and every day to save money.
1. Show your children how to recycle. Sorting out the recyclables from the trash is a great chore for your children and it can show them the importance of going green. Recycling keeps unnecessary waste from the landfill and often brings new life to things that could otherwise be discarded. And certain recyclable products, such as aluminum cans, can earn your children money. It may not amount to very much each month, but you might encourage them to save up their hard-earned money for a special toy or treat.
2. Reuse recyclables for projects. Not everything that’s recyclable needs to make it to the recycling center right away. In fact, there are plenty of alternatives for your used products. An empty soda bottle can be transformed into a bird feeder, the back of used computer paper makes a perfect canvas for drawings and of course you can always make classic tin can phones. Teach your kids to get creative with the resources you have.
3. Teach electricity savings. Most electricity is generated from fossil fuels, which leak emissions into the atmosphere and are said to be the cause of a global climate shift. Although the nation is moving away from coal-fired power plants, the emissions they have caused are still a serious issue. Fortunately, everyone can do their part to help ward off climate change—including children. Teach your kids to turn off the lights when they leave a room and remind them to keep the refrigerator closed. If your children are responsible for doing their laundry, ask them to use cold water and to hang dry their clothes to save energy. If you have a child loading and emptying the dishwasher, ask that he or she avoids the heat dry cycle and allow the dishes to air dry instead.
4. Make water conservation a priority. Saving water can help cut down on both your water and your electricity bill. The hot water heater is often the second largest energy consumer in the average household, so minimizing your water use can help lower your expenses. Make water conservation a priority in your household. Give your children a time limit in the shower and make sure the water isn’t left running as they go through their morning and nighttime routine in the bathroom.
5. Plant a garden.Sometimes going green is as easy as exercising your green thumb. Planting a garden is a great way to teach your children about the environment and it can help you save energy. Instead of purchasing produce that’s been shipped across the country, grow your favorite veggies in your backyard. Not only will it cut down on your family’s environmental impact, it is a cheaper and fresher option than buying produce in the store.
Implementing these green strategies is even easier with the My Job Chart app. Just add these activities as daily or weekly chores on your app to ensure that your kids stay focused and on track for your family’s money-saving and green goals.
Clint Robertson is a freelance writer who has held numerous positions in the energy industry. His work promotes ways to reduce our carbon footprint through the development and utilization of renewable energy sources. You can reach out to him directly on twitter.
October 16th, 2013 - Category: Money
Did you know that the average U.S. family spends close to $1,300 a year on utilities? Sadly, (for your pocketbook and for our environment) a big portion of that energy is wasted.
We’ve all gone through our houses and turned off lights, checked for leaky faucets, and inspected weather stripping. But here are a few things that you maybe haven’t thought about before that can help you save even more.
Take advantage of the sun. Keep draperies and shades open on south facing windows during the heating season to allow sunlight to enter your home and close them at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows.
Don’t heat or cool empty space. Turn down the thermostat or turnoff the heat for unoccupied rooms.
Keep registers, and filters clean. And make sure they aren’t blocked by furniture, carpeting, or drapes.
Be patient. Your house won’t warm up or cool down any faster if you crank up the thermostat past your desired temperature. And it’s easy to forget to turn it down, which wastes more energy.
Plant trees or shrubs to shade air conditioning units – but don’t block the airflow. A unit operating in the shade uses about 10 percent less electricity than the same one operating in the sun.
Lower the thermostat on your water heater. Water heaters come from the factory with high temperature settings, but a setting of 115 degrees Fahrenheit provides hot enough water for most uses.
Take showers instead of baths. Bathing uses the most hot water in the average household. You use 15 to 25 gallons of hot water for a bath, but less than 10 gallons during a 5-minute shower.
Install white window shades, drapes, or blinds to reflect heat away from your house.
Clean your windows to maximize solar heat that can be gained.
Landscaping is a natural and beautiful way to reduce your energy bills. A well-placed tree, shrub, or vine can provide shade or act as a windbreak and reduce overall energy bills.
Plant trees that lose their leaves in the fall. When selectively placed around a house, they provide excellent protection from the summer sun but permit winter sunlight to reach and warm your house.
Let your dishes air dry. If you don’t have an automatic air-dry switch on your dishwasher, prop the door open a little after the final rinse so the dishes will dry faster.
Use a microwave or toaster oven to cook small portions.
Put a lid on your pot. This reduces cooking time and energy use.
Place the faucet lever on the kitchen sink in the cold position when using small amounts of water. Turning on the hot water for even a second uses energy to heat the water even though it never reaches the faucet.
Match the size of the cookware to the heating element.
Dishwashers use less water than washing dishes by hand, about 6 gallons less per load.
Front loader washing machines use about a third of the energy and less water than a top-loading machine. They also remove more water from you clothes during the spin cycle which means less energy will be used to dry them.
Use the moisture sensor when drying your clothes. The sensor automatically shuts off the machine when your clothes are dry. This not only saves energy, but it will save wear and tear on your clothes caused by over-drying.
Information taken from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy.