Going green is a great way to save the environment, and it can save you money. Here are tips to reduce your energy impact without burning a hole in your wallet.
You don't have to install solar panels on the roof to have a greener home. Here are a few money-saving ways to start.
* Fix that leak. Kim Dalton at Tennessee American Water Co. recommends checking your plumbing for leaks.
"The first thing to check, as far as conservation of water goes, would be for a leak in the toilet," Mrs. Dalton said. "Not only would this save water for the environment, it's the biggest cause for an increased water bill."
* Think low flow. Mrs. Dalton also encourages the use of low-flow shower heads and faucet aerators. The combination can save upwards of 2,000 gallons per month. "It's a very inexpensive fix," she said.
* Cover the windows. EPB recommends using insulated curtains on the north side of your home. There are several more energy-saving tips on the Web site.
* Stir up a potion. Make your own cleaning products using household items like baking soda and white vinegar. Not only are homemade cleaning agents cheap and easy to make, they are nontoxic, meaning better health for both your family and the environment. Visit EarthEasy.com for recipes.
In your yard
Your yard may seem green enough already, but there are several steps you can take to improve the environment around you while also cutting costs.
* Choose nonthirsty plants. "If you're trying to save on water, there are some incredibly drought-tolerant plants," said Tim Holcomb, owner of Holcomb Garden Center in Hixson. "A lot of hollies are drought-tolerant, along with ornamental grasses and nandinas."
According to Mr. Holcomb, these plants will reduce both your water waste and water costs.
* Let hardwoods do double duty. Planting deciduous trees near your home can save on energy costs.
"You want to get a long-living, hardwood tree that will give you shade," Mr. Holcomb said. "The advantage is that in the summer, you have a shade over your house, which cools it as much as 10 to 15 degrees. By the same token, those leaves fall off in the fall, and the sun is allowed to warm the house in the winter."
On the road
Your car uses a lot of resources, but cutting back on those resources will "green" your driving and save you money.
* Not so fast. Slower acceleration saves fuel, which saves money. "Slow-going to get there is the best efficiency that you can get out of your vehicle, instead of trying to get there as fast as you can," said Luke Dorais, manager of the Hixson Midas.
Try to keep your engine speeds between 1,200 and 3,000 RPMs. "The lower the RPM, the less your engine is running," Mr. Dorais added.
* Go for quick cleanups. Going to the car wash probably does not sound cost-efficient, but the few dollars you spend there save you from wasting a lot of water washing your car at home.
* Maintain your car. Regular car maintenance ensures your car is running smoothly, which provides better gas mileage. Areas to note include spark plugs, oil and tire pressure.
"Drag is what causes fuel inefficiency," Mr. Dorais said. "So if your tires are underinflated, that requires more energy."
At the store
Changing your shopping habits can have a positive impact on the environment and your wallet.
* Reuse. Recycle a gently used product and save cash by shopping secondhand.
* Support your local farmers. When shopping for produce, buy locally. Keeping money in your local economy allows farmers to continue providing healthier, fresher alternatives to processed foods.
* Grow a garden. Take it one step further and grow some of your own food. "You can very easily grow tomatoes, beans, squash, okra, lots of fruits and vegetables," Mr. Holcomb said. "Gardening in this part of the country is quite easy and quite beneficial. You can raise your food yourself for less money and organically, if you choose."
* Banish bottles. Instead of spending money on bottled water, invest in a water filter. Doing so will save plastic, not to mention the money you spent on bottles.
* Buy in bulk. Buying items you use frequently in larger quantities is generally cheaper and requires less packaging.