March 12, 2019.
Maybe you’re not crazy about spending half your paycheck at the organic food store. Maybe you don’t want to take the time to create your own “natural deodorant.” Maybe you don’t want to save up for three months to install weird-looking solar panels in your home. If so, then this blog post is for you.
Green living doesn’t have to be time-consuming or expensive. A lot of times, it’s about cutting back and figuring out how much energy you need to use versus how much energy you’re actually using. When you do, you could save hundreds monthly and reduce your estimated $2,000 cost of annual energy.
Use 5 steps to cut your utility bills in under 15 minutes
Here are our top five ways to live green in less than 15 minutes — and save money in the process:
1. Don’t wash your jeans (okay, wash them sometimes).
According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), you can save up to five times the energy when you wear your jeans at least three times before washing them. Don’t forget to wash them in cold water, let them air dry, and skip the ironing. The American Cleaning Institute suggests washing most items less often, if you can handle it. Consider scaling back to washing PJs after four wears, towels after five uses, and bedsheets every two weeks. The silver lining: This could help you beat the natural average of doing 4.5 loads of laundry a week.
If you don’t want to bother with any of that, you could just do what Chip Bergh, CEO for Levi Strauss & Co., does with his jeans, as noted in his famous 2014 confession. Chip doesn’t wash his jeans for a whole year. He doesn’t want to waste the 3,500 liters of water that would end up getting used when you wash your jeans once a week.
Bonus tip: Treat your jeans like you would a jacket — you don’t have to wash it all the time, and you can spot clean if necessary. If you still don’t like the idea of wearing the same pair over and over, buy at least three pairs and switch them up!
2. Set it and forget it.
This one is pretty sweet. All you have to do is turn the thermostat up or down before you head to work, and that one action does all the saving for you. To get the most out of your energy savings, turn your thermostat 10° to 15° warmer in the summer and 10° to 15° cooler in the winter. This tiny change can save you up to 5 to 15 percent per year on energy.
Bonus tip: Buy a programmable thermostat, and you won’t have to do a thing! The Nest runs at around $250, but you can find alternatives for as low as around $75. You can also consult our guide on the 11 smart home features that could increase your home’s value by 11 percent here.
3. Love your microwave.
Don’t underestimate your microwave. Every time you use a microwave instead of your oven, you save up to 80 percent energy. EnergyStar.gov endorses the microwave as the fastest and most efficient method of cooking, helping to cut down on the typical homeowner’s $2,000 annual cost of energy (up to $372 monthly). And you won’t have to worry about messy cleanup, or remembering to check to see if something has burned, or keeping your apron clean. Save the oven for when you have guests over and you’re making a meal to remember.
Bonus tip: If you love the taste of freshly baked cookies and roasted chicken, create a big batch of food once a week and enjoy it all week long. Try one of these super-simple one-pot meals to condense your energy and your time spent in the kitchen.
There’s a better way to mortgage. (And it’s free and easy.)
4. Trick your tank.
Did you know that you use up a half gallon of water with every flush? That’s around 2.5 gallons every day!
But you can trick your tank into thinking there is less water to refill by doing this:
- Fill a 2-liter soda bottle with water, pebbles, and a little bleach. The bleach will keep the water fresh so it can sit in there for months.
- Then, gently place the bottle in your toilet tank.
Bonus tip: Not a fan of the bottle-in-the-tank? Make a deal with a relative or a friend that you’ll wash the dishes for a week in exchange for this weird task.
5. Speed up your dryer.
Use wool to create an all-natural dryer ball that absorbs moisture quickly and lasts for years. The reason that making your own dryer balls is such a smart move, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) says, is because they circulate more air to your clothes to cut down on time in the dryer.
You can up the ante by avoiding over- or under-filling your dryer, cleaning the lint trap, drying on low heat, and air-drying when you can, the DOE adds. Wool dryer balls can help reduce your drying time by anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes. You can buy dryer balls online or create your own with an easy DIY tutorial like this one from Crunchy Betty.
Bonus tip: Have fun with this project. Assemble multicolored dryer balls while watching your favorite TV show. Make the time fly with 9 binge-able Netflix shows for homebuyers and sellers.
Get home in 10 days and 15 minutes
There’s so much you can do to make your life better if you have 15 minutes — including slashing your utility bills and getting prequalified for a mortgage. Like our energy-saving tips, this part is straightforward and easy. Whether you’re ready to stop renting or trade up to a new place at the same or lower monthly mortgage payment, you can download our free LoanFly app and find out how much house you can afford in just 15 minutes.* You’ll also get a free copy of your credit report, get access to the latest MLS home search listings, get connected with a local loan officer, and get your keys in as few as 10 days.**
*During normal business hours.
**10-day close not typical. Not all loans will close in this timeframe.
For educational purposes only. Please contact your qualified professional for specific guidance.
Sources are deemed reliable but not guaranteed.