Taking care of the environment, reducing carbon emissions,
relying less on fossil fuels, eating healthier it seems that the majority of the population has a reason to want to live a greener lifestyle. The beginning of our journey came in the form of trying to save money and living a healthier, more self-sufficient lifestyle.
Being a part of suburban homesteading, doing all we can to make the best of our little 1/5 acre, has taught us many lessons. Among those is that this trend is not a new lifestyle- it is a reversion to the lifestyle of our ancestors. Our ancestors being self-sustainable out of necessity were really living a “green” lifestyle before green was cool!
Last year we actually did a list of 101 things that one can do to save money, all while having a positive impact on the environment. ( Why you should go green in 2014 Part 1 & Part 2) It is not all inclusive by any means, but does make a significant impact in the budget while living the greener lifestyle.
Of all the things on the list, I would have to say that the largest impact-both to budget and to the environment, came in the form of taking a serious look at our energy usage. Not just how much we were using, but the type of energy we were using.
We made multiple adjustments in our lifestyle to decrease the amount of energy used on a daily basis: Paying close attention to energy loss as well as energy wasted.
Energy lost is heat or a/c going out the cracks, windows, doors etc. Tightening up our house was not an expensive venture, but it was a little time consuming working to find and plug all those air leaks. This seems to be an ongoing effort with a 100 year old house. But it has made a significant difference, both to budget and our comfort, keeping a more consistent temperature in the living space.
Energy wasted was like a treasure hunt to see where we were using energy that was unnecessary. Enter the “energy vampire”. The energy vampire is an appliance or electronic device that pulls energy even when not in use.
We took a close look at things like the clock on the stove and the clock/timer on the microwave. These burned constant while serving no useful purpose for us. The stove did have an “off” setting for all lights, but the microwave had to be unplugged when not in use.
All of our televisions and other electronics are on a surge protector/power strip, which can be turned off when not in use. The tv’s with attached cable boxes, when turned back on have to reset which takes about 2-3 minutes, but is no real issue to us.
Our biggest regular draw on power is from our aquaponics tanks. Since we raise tilapia, the water must be maintained at a constant temperature, ph, and aeration, so heater, aerators and pumps must be run constantly. Being the biggest drain on our power has prompted us to convert the greenhouse entirely to solar. As I write we are in process to convert our entire household over to solar, but that will be another post.
Being in a deregulated energy state, our third major move was to research the use of an alternative energy provider. Energy deregulation allows us to make the choice as to whom we buy our energy from. We are not forced to be a part of the energy monopoly still found in many states.
We researched several companies with a focus on savings over the utility, but one that also derived energy from green sources. Our choice made a huge impact on the amount we were paying each month for the energy we did use.
If saving money or reducing your expenses is on the “to-do” list, take a hard look at energy consumption, energy waste, and if in a deregulated state, energy choice. It can make a significant impact on the budget.