10 Tips to Save Money While Saving Our Planet

polar bears

Alright, you’ve mastered my 10 Beginner Tips to Save Money, and you’ve at least attempted my 10 Advanced Methods. Now it’s time to crank up the heat (or down if it’s winter!). Let’s shift our attention to those methods which are good for the earth as well.

Until Elon Musk let’s us ride his coattails to Mars, this is the only planet we’ve got. May as well make the most of it.

Many of these focus on energy consumption and how to reduce it. Some are no-brainers, and others require total habit breaking. However, implementing any of these will not only put less strain on our ecosystem, they’ll also save you money in the process!

Here’s 10 Ways to Save Money as well as the Environment:

1. Adjust your thermostat!

A huge bank account killer – the thermostat. In the summer, set your AC a few degrees higher and turn on a fan. The cost per kilowatt hour to run a ceiling fan or floor fan is way lower than an AC unit. In the winter, set it two degrees lower and put on a sweater.

If possible, take advantage of a schedule so that while you are sleeping or away, the home has a more ambient temperature.

While you’re at it, think about the other drains on energy your home uses. Visual Capitalist has a great illustration of the energy uses in our home and their costs. Turn off TVs, lights and computers when you aren’t using them. The less coal and natural gas we burn, the better for this little guy:


2. Take your pedal off the metal!

Accelerate a little slower when the light turns green and take your foot off the gas a little sooner when you see an upcoming red light. Coast your way up to stop signs whenever no one is behind you and try not to drive faster than 75 on the highway.

Many gasoline engines on the road today run most fuel efficiently around 60-70 mph. Using less gas = saving more money and burning less fossil fuels.

At a minimum, try to bundle errands together and always ask yourself if you can walk, wait, or do without.

If you want to go a bit further, “Hypermiling” is the term used by people trying to get the most miles per gallon out of their tank. Check out this infographic for “The Ultimate Guide to Hypermiling”.

Photo by Kevin Hall

3. Set the temperature of your water heater just a little cooler!

Especially in apartments, this can be turned up really high by default. Turn it down a little bit and test your shower water heat. You don’t need 200 degree water when you never use water hotter than 110 to shower or 150 for appliances such as the dishwasher. Speaking of the dishwasher…

4. Turn off the “Heated Dry” setting of your dishwasher!

This option uses more electricity and doesn’t really need to be on if you can manage without it. The main reason for it is to get rid of water spots. It’s a purely aesthetic waste.

Don’t believe me. Take DTE’s word for it.

Speaking of appliances…

5. Wash your clothes in Cool or Cold water!

This energy saver also helps to retain the color of your clothes and saves you on utility bills.


6. Replace your furnace air filter regularly!

A clogged air filter will make the furnace work harder to draw the air into the ducts. This not only shortens the lifespan of the furnace and its parts, it may stay on longer trying to heat the house with sub-optimal efficiency.

7. One of the most exciting methods of all… vacuum off the air intake behind your refrigerator!

Yes, very exciting. But really, doing this will cause your fridge to work a little less to bring air in and may make the fridge last longer. Check out this tutorial for the why and how!

In addition to this, make sure your freezer and fridge are full but not so full that they are blocking the cold air vents inside. If you are single or eat out a lot, consider freezing extra ice cubes. A jam-packed freezer and an empty freezer both use extra electricity to keep cold.

Image by Alain Audet from Pixabay

8. Return your beer and soda cans!

Need I say more? No. But I will anyways. Even in states where there isn’t a monetary deposit on carbonated beverages (thanks big beverage), you should at a minimum recycle aluminum, plastic, and glass containers to avoid unnecessarily overburdening landfills.

9. Get your clothing from local thrift stores!

In addition to saving the carbon emissions created in manufacturing and shipping a new t-shirt halfway around the globe, buying some of your clothes from a thrift store has never been more in vogue thanks to singers like Lorde and Macklemore. (Those are topical references in 2020, right?)

10. Buy less meat!

For this final one, I interviewed Hannah Richardson, a Senior Project Manager in the Sustainability Department at a global health and safety firm headquartered in Michigan. She provided me her favorite money and planet saving tip: consuming less meat.

Take a look at this graph which compares the greenhouse gas emissions from common meats versus veggies:

Source: What You Eat Matters, By Kari Hamershlag, EWG Senior Analyst

Not only does consuming less meat help the planet’s environment in a variety of ways, produce and grains can also be cheaper to purchase too. For protein, different nuts can be far less expensive than meat and poultry.

And as a more long-term financial benefit, it’s even better for your health when done correctly. A 2009 National Cancer Institute (NCI) study of half a million Americans found that those who ate the most red meat were 20 percent more likely to die of cancer and at least 27 percent more likely to die of heart disease than those who ate the least.

Check out this informative and surprising brochure from the Environmental Working Group full of facts about how simply choosing a bit less meat can make a huge impact.

Sorry Ron Swanson, save the meat for these guys:

There you have ’em.

10 tips to save your hard earned money! Each with the added benefit that at that same time you improve the quality of the only planet we have, all the animals we share it with, and the one our children will inherit. Got any other environment-friendly money saving tricks? Leave a comment!

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6 thoughts

  1. Kevin, this may be the most important and impactful you ever write on your blog. Sure, in the personal finance world, we argue about money and other trivial things, but getting your audience to read these easy-to-implement tips to save our planet is truly the way to make a difference and use influence for a purpose. That graph on the things we eat was eye-opening. Kudos to you!

    1. Thank you for such a great compliment! That makes me feel I hit the mark with this one. Agreed we focus so much on money but can sometimes doubledip like this into other areas of life!

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