Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Three money-saving tips for Earth Day 2009.

Earth Day offers great opportunities to protect the environment — as well as our pocketbooks.

Some of the familiar admonitions really do work: Recycle and reuse, drive less and ride the bus more often, install programmable thermostats, take reusable shopping bags to grocery stores, pay bills online.

Given the tough economic times, more people on this Earth Day will look extra hard at how they can whittle down their energy bills or otherwise save money. Among the ideas:

•Unplug unused electronic appliances.

For instance, unplugging a DVD player could save 12 cents a week in electricity, based on the price of power in the Kansas City area. Doesn’t sound like a lot?

Then add in game consoles, computers, printers, radios, phone chargers and other gear, and a family could save around $70 a year by unplugging unused appliances. Or by turning off power strips connected to the appliances. And the savings could jump an additional $100 a year by unplugging a turned-off plasma TV.

•Use compact fluorescent light bulbs.

They cost more up front, but in the Kansas City area one compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulb can save about 40 cents a week — or more than $20 a year — in electricity costs compared with a traditional light bulb.

If 100,000 households each use a dozen CFL bulbs, the savings could reach $24 million, and even more dramatic reductions in electrical demand.

•Fix water leaks.

The average Kansas City homeowner pays $20 a month for water. But that figure could drop by $6 to $7 a month with just a few actions, or up to $84 a year. The top priorities are to fix leaky toilets, buy energy efficient clothes washers and use low-pressure shower heads.

If 100,000 households adopted these changes, it could total $8.4 million in savings.

Earth Day 2009 will make a profound difference if area residents commit to changing their behaviors and protecting the environment.