I won’t bore you on how much we waste on simple every day things, or how small changes could save our environment. If I did that, I would lose half of you by the end of the first paragraph. Some people care about the planet that we live in but ALL people, more or less, care about money. When it came to bills, I always thought of them as standard. Not much to do here, I thought. I want a service, so I have to pay for it. However, I didn’t realize how simple, unnoticed things were inflating my bills quite drastically. After making 9 simple changes, I’ve lowered my bills by almost $1,900 a year. Here’s how I did it and how you can too.
1. Switch to Paperless Billing
Many popular companies are now charging $1 and more to receive paper bills in the mail. I was getting 4 statements a month that charged me $1 each for paper statements. I was so used to reading them on paper, that I thought a dollar a month was not a big deal. However, what bothered me, was all the paper that was being wasted. Once I made the switch, I realized that online statements are much more useful as they provide much more data and they are readily accessible. AT&T also offers $10 credit for anyone who switches to paperless billing. I picked that up as well.
A Canadian news outlet reports that Canadians are spending over 500 million dollars on paper billing, which was previously free. However, instead joining the furious customers or feeding these companies more money, opt for the paperless billing. It’s more convenient as you’ll never lose the bills (they are available in your e-mails or online 24/7) and you’ll be helping out the environment big time. These bills add up to huge stacks of paper over the year and quite a few dollars as well. The papers have to be printed, handled, shipped, and they usually don’t end up getting recycled. The best part is it usually only takes a few clicks online to switch.
Calculate your potential savings and impact here.
What it saved me: $48
2. Fix Your Leaks
Every night I heard the water running in the toilet but I didn’t think anything of it. Only after several years, I realized this was not normal. Most importantly, my money was literally going down the drain. It was a simple fix, and it didn’t cost me a thing. Even if I had to replace the toilet with a more efficient one, i would’ve saved myself money over time.
US alone wastes 1 TRILLION gallons of water on leaks. Did you know that a running toilet can waste over 200 gallons of water every day? Over a year that added up to $262 dollars for me. Fix your leaks and you’ll be saving 13.7% of your water usage annually.
What it saved me: $262
3. Turn off What You Don’t Use
It was only recently that somebody pointed out to me that the little green light on my set-top box meant that it was on. That means it was on for many years. My desktop pc and my television was draining electricity as well. Out of electronics, plasma TVs, gaming consoles, set-top boxes, fax machines, printers and computers use the most energy. Even when you are not using them. They can simply be plugged in and still draining energy.
This applies to your lights in your house, as well as your faucet. Did you know that while brushing your teeth, a faucet uses 2 gallons of water per minute? It can add up to 200 gallons a month on wasted water. If you don’t use it, turn it off. It’s super simple, yet many people are simply too lazy to commit to this. Turning off my printer, fax machine, and unplugging tv, computer and set top box when not in-use lowered my bill by $98 a year!
What it saved me: $98
4. Switch Your Lightbulbs
I need light. I have two floors, so whenever I am downstairs at night, every room on that floor is lit. Some rooms have 6-8 light bulbs each! I didn’t think that anything could have been done to lower my bills aside from shutting some lights off. But I discovered that incandescent light bulbs were extremely inefficient and wasted lots of electricity. Compact fluorescent lights were almost 5x as effective and they lasted 8 times longer. I never dim my lights so I knew this was the way to go.
You don’t need a handyman for this, anyone with some steady hands can replace light bulbs. And it adds up too. Compact fluorescent and LED light bulbs can use 75% less energy than your typical light bulb and last 8 times longer too. That’s a lot of energy that will be saved and light bulbs that won’t be thrown out. The average american has 47 light bulbs in their household. I had 27 light bulbs just on the first floor. I bought a case of light bulbs and replaced them all in an hour. Unfortunately, I didn’t track the exact decrease in my bill, but using a calculator below, it came out to $376.46, which is actually pretty reasonable. Changing your lightbulbs is a no-brainer, as they will pay for themselves in 9 months or less. LED light bulbs are much cheaper now as well.
Calculate potential savings here.
What it saved me: 376.46 (48 bulbs at 3 hours per day)
5. Stop Your Junk Mail
Around 4 million tons of junk mail is received every year in the US. 44% of that goes unopened and un-recycled. Paper amounts to 40% of the landfill space. Not to mention all the trees that are cut down to make this paper. To save yourself the stress of annoying junk mail, there are several steps you can take. The easiest way is to download “Paper Karma”, an app which lets you take a photo of the junk mail that you are receiving and they do all the leg work for you. I found this was very effective in reducing most of my junk mail. You can also us 41Pounds.org for $35, and it will provide a similar service and will stop 80%-95% catalogs and junk mail for 5 years. $10 of that goes to charity.
Also, many times I would get a catalog or a coupon and be drawn to buy something just so I could use it. I figured if I didn’t get this mail in the first place, I wouldn’t fall for for tricky advertisements that are used to draw us in to buy more useless stuff. And it worked. For paper mail that you can’t avoid, use iRecycle, an app which will help you to find out where and how to recycle those items.
What it saved me: $100 (one or two purchases that I wouldn’t make otherwise)
6. Use Your Thermostat
Most of the thermostats are now programmable, some even by your phones. Which means you can control when it should be turned down/up, even when you are not around. This could represent some huge savings for you. Many households have A/C running 24/7 at lower temperatures than they actually need in the summer. Lower the temperature by at least 4 degrees when going to bed and turn it off completely or lower it by 8 degrees when you are away. To me this added up close to $180 in yearly savings, meaning that I could actually afford one of these.
What it saved me: $180
7. Ditch the CDs and DVDs
5.5 Million boxes of CDs and DVDs are thrown away each year. Every month over 100,000 CDs become unused, unwanted or obsolete. For storage, use USB drives. They hold way more data, are more portable, cost only a few bucks and you can keep re-using them. Download music online, once you download a song, you can download it again if need be. Many car music players now accept USB and auxiliary plugs that you can connect your phone to anyway. For movies, instead of buying a dvd and a box, use on-demand or streaming services like hulu and netflix. Chances are, even if you are going to re-watch the movie, you will be saving some money anyway. Using these methods also mean that there is no need for a cd-burner, dvd/bluray player and more.
I used to buy several dvds and a music album per month. This was my entertainment, aside from watching kittens on YouTube, but it added up quickly. I switched to a movie subscription service, started downloading music in MP3 format instead of buying the actual album and used a $6 USB stick to play downloaded music in my car. I also sold my DVD player and all my DVDs. You can also switch to free music all together by simply connecting your phone or music player to your car.
What it saved me: $287.76 (Movie subscription service + MP3 album, instead of 1 DVD and 1 album purchase per month)
8. Switch to Filtered Water
The bottled water industry made over $11.8 billion last year from bottled water. We pay 300 times the cost of tap water to drink from the bottle form, meanwhile 24% of all bottled water is just tap water that is re-packaged by pepsi/coke. Some cities like Portland, have incredibly pure water that could be sold and packaged as well. Yet, people in those cities still drink bottled water and according to thewaterproject.org, Americans spend $100 on bottled water a year. Most plastic bottles can add toxins to the water when they are exposed in the sun. Get a BPA free bottle and fill it up. Filter your water at home with a simple filter. The savings will add up. Infuse it with some fruits for extra flavor and benefits.
I think I spent more than $100 on all the water bottles I purchased last year but since I didn’t keep track, let’s just call it $100. This is not counting all the events and hikes, that I could have just brought my own container to instead of paying $3-5 for water.
What it saved me: $100
9. Keep your Tires Inflated
I could make a whole post on this, but basically, an average person drives an average of 12,000 miles with under-inflated tires yearly. After finally checking my tire pressure, I found that I was no exception. Under-inflated tires use an extra 144 gallons of gas per year and could run up your car gas bills by $300-$500 per year. Your car may also contribute 1.5 of extra tons of greenhouse gases per year. Keep your tires filed to the right pressure. It’s a simple tip, with a big impact for your wallet and our planet.
What it saved me: $400 + potential accidents
Make These Changes Now
These simple changes that could be made in one day saved me $1852.22 over a year alone. As much money as that is, I think the environmental impact that it had was much more important. If everyone made these 9 changes, this would have a huge impact on our nature. But regardless if you care about the environment, money or both, making a change in the way we live is worth it.
I’ve picked the easiest changes that cost little to nothing to make but just know that with a little more effort there’s so much more that you can do. This family reduced their spending by 40% and they produce only one quart of waste per year. I urge every one of you to least try the 9 changes and see how they affect your wallet. Then share it with your friends. Together, we can make a big impact.