How To Save Money By Going Green

While big corporations and governments can have a big impact on the environment – for better or for worse – individual efforts to “go green” can add up too.  Here’s how to save money by going green:

Reducing Your Environmental Footprint

You can reduce your environmental footprint and make the planet a cleaner, healthier place – and as a bonus, many of these ideas can help you keep more of your money in your pocket too.

  • Avoid excess packaging.  Use your own portable coffee mug instead of paper or Styrofoam cups.  Take your own reusable bags or bins to grocery stores instead of using their plastic bags.  Consider how much packaging is used in your purchases – children’s toys are exceptionally bad – and buy in bulk if it’s appropriate for your family.
  • Donate used clothing and household or office items to thrift shops instead of sending them to the landfill.  Give your local consignment and thrift stores a chance before heading off to the mall.  Brand new and lightly used items can often be found for a fraction of the price of new.

Related: How Many Clothes Do You Need Anyway?

  • Recycle.  Plastics, metal, glass and paper are obvious recyclables, but you can also recycle things like cell phones and toner cartridges.  Look for drop off spots in your neighbourhood, or send them back to the manufacturer if they have this option.

How To Save Money: In the garden

  • Plant native grasses, shrubs, trees and flowers that don’t need frequent watering.
  • Ban pesticides from your lawn.  Keep your grass looking lush naturally – let it grow a little longer and water it deeply but infrequently.
  • Compost.  If your city doesn’t collect organic waste for composting, install a composting bin in your backyard (or a vermicomposter – a natural worm-based composter – in your apartment kitchen).  Mulch grass clippings and raked leaves.

Related: Organic Food Gardening

How To Save Money: Inside your home

Conserve energy with your lighting, heating and cooling, and appliance use.

  • Use less water by installing a low-flow showerhead and turning off the tap when you brush your teeth.  A running bathrom faucet uses 10 to 20 litres per minute.
  • Turn off lights when you leave the room.
  • Use fans instead of air-conditioning to fend off summer heat, and close curtains and blinds during the day.
  • Install a programmable thermostat and use the timer to automatically reduce the use of heating or air conditioning, especially at night or when the house is empty.  Heating and cooling your home accounts for about 60% of your energy costs.  A programmable thermostat could reduce your heating bill by 2% (about $75 a year) for every 1 degree Celsius you turn it down.
  • Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent ones.  ENERGY STAR compact fluorescent light bulbs use 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs.  Switching all the incandescent light bulbs in your house to compact fluorescent bulbs could save you $250 a year.
  • Weatherproof and insulate your home to reduce your heating costs.
  • Choose energy-efficient models when you replace appliances.  Trading your old basement fridge for a new energy-efficient model could save you more than $100 a year.  Switching to a high-efficiency water heater could save you up to $100 on your energy bill each year.

How To Save Money: Getting around

  • Take public transit, walk or bike.  The fewer cars there are on the road, the lower the emissions and the better our air quality.
  • Consider a hybrid or fuel-efficient vehicle for your next car purchase.

Related:  Pros And Cons Of Living In The City vs. The Suburbs

Fun Facts

Did you know…?

  • If everyone in the Greater Toronto area turned off the tap while brushing their teeth (twice a day) they would collectively save 140 million litres of water – enough to satisfy the daily water requirements of a city of 560,000 people.
  • Every day the residents of the City of Ottawa use enough drinking water to fill 2.3 million bathtubs.
  • Almost 80% of the earth’s surface is water, but only 1% is fresh water suitable for drinking.
  • New flat-screen LCD monitors use 70% less energy than standard monitors – and contain 95% less lead.


Many of these changes are small ones that you can integrate into your lifestyle gradually without noticing much of a sacrifice.

Related: 35 Ways To Save Money

How much you can save by making “green” upgrades to your home depends on variables like the age and size of your house, the climate where you live, and your own personal consumption patterns.

But one thing is certain.  If you reduce your energy use, before you know it, you’ll be running a “green” household – and saving money too!

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  1. Andrew on November 7, 2012 at 8:59 am

    Great tips. I assume you meant 95% less lead, not 905% :).

    • Echo on November 7, 2012 at 9:55 am

      Thanks Andrew, I’ll have a chat with the editor.

  2. on November 7, 2012 at 11:58 am

    Here’s a green computer tip. Put all the electronics except the computer on a power bar. When you’re done with the computer, hit the switch on the power bar to turn off everything except the computer. Next time you sit down, it’s instant on.

    Our insurance brokerage is in the process of going paperless. It’s surprisingly difficult. It took some $’s and software modification, and there’s additional costs and procedures for security and backups (because e copies are more fragile than a drawer full of paper). But the real tough part has been adjusting our workflow. Rather than my printing something and walking it over to my admin folks, I have to print it to pdf, save it, attach it to the database with comments and instructions, and then ‘task’ the admin. Then the admin has to remember to look at the task lists rather than their inbox.

    I’m not sure it’ll necessarily save me money directly, but it should lead to fewer errors in operations. And I’m going to be able to free up a lot of space in my office – 3 filing cabinets can go into storage and eventually be shredded.

    • Boomer on November 8, 2012 at 4:02 pm Thanks for the great tips.

      It’s a challenge sometimes to change the way we operate but well worth it. I’ve found that most places still print out everything – just in case- negating the whole premise of computer data storage.

  3. Joe on November 7, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    The only consistently successful “green” initiatives are the ones that save people enough money to justify the effort/investment required. That’s why CFLs and subways are extremely popular, while biking and reusable diapers are not. The government’s job is to resolve these issues through investment. Ontario has the natural resources to run on 100% green energy. But the province and the feds won’t put money into it. We pay enough taxes that we shouldn’t also need to pay a “lifestyle” tax where I sacrifice effort/money to “be green” just for the sake of it.

    • Boomer on November 8, 2012 at 4:08 pm

      @Joe: These initiatives have been known for decades, but surprisingly few people are regularly on board with them. You are right that most people don’t think the savings are worth the effort, especially small amounts over time.

      Governments and corporations could do a lot better in being environmentally conscious. One thing that has always annoyed me is our hydro company spends millions of dollars on advertising ways to reduce our water consumption, yet when I pass by their office complex the sprinklers are turned on all day – watering the road. All their lights are always on too!

  4. James on November 7, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    Thanks for such a great list. We changed all of our light bulbs to the Daylight version of the compact bulbs a little while ago. It is wonderful to have the natural light blend with our home lights. It is easier on the eyes (and my wife says it is easier on the soul). Furthermore, because there is very little visible difference when the lights are on during the day, it is easier to leave the lights off. Another green tip that comes to mind is switching all of your bills to paperless, not only does it free up clutter, it is beneficial for the environment. Also, many companies offer incentives from time to time encouraging the switch (usually because it saves them money). I have my email set up to filter all my bills to a folder, that way I don’t have to search through my email to find them, and they usually come the same day every month, which takes the guesswork out of when it will arrive.

    • Boomer on November 8, 2012 at 4:15 pm

      @James: Thanks for more great tips – although I’ve never seen an incentive to switch to paperless bills!

      I’ve discovered the new LED bulbs. The Phillips Ambient LED 12.5 W replaces a 60 watt bulb. They’re a bit pricey at about $25 a bulb, but they claim to last 25,000 hours without losing any brightness and they use 75% less energy than incandescent. At this rate I may never have to buy bulbs again in my lifetime 🙂

  5. Jordann @ My Alternate Life on November 8, 2012 at 8:03 am

    What a great, concise list! I try and do most of these things already, and I’ve found that once I do it for about a month, it just becomes second nature. The thing I’m having the hardest time with is turning the thermostat down – I hate being cold.

    • Boomer on November 8, 2012 at 4:17 pm

      @Jordann: You’re right that it just takes a little thought and practice to change habits.

      As for the thermostat, you just need to buy a cute sweater 🙂

  6. Jane on November 10, 2012 at 11:49 pm

    Great list! I always take advantage of day light so during the day, I open all the windows and turn off all the lights. I let the sun light up the house so I can save electricity.

  7. Andrew Rubin on June 18, 2013 at 7:02 am

    These are great tips everyone should take the time to read… Not only do we help Earth being greener, but we also save money just by changing some of our old habits. Great post !

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