As the world continues to navigate the ongoing health crisis, it’s clear that our “new normal” of self-isolation and staying at home is here to stay for the foreseeable future. Along with adjusting to this lifestyle, it’s crucial to prepare for the uncertainty that lies ahead. One way to do this is by building up extra cash or filling up our emergency fund. By implementing sustainable household habits, we can not only save money but also contribute to a greener environment. In this article, we will explore 12 small but impactful habits that can help you save money on utilities and groceries, all while making a positive impact on the planet.
Keeping Energy Costs Lower
1. Utilize Power Strips
Did you know that appliances like computers, coffee makers, and even phone chargers continue to consume energy even when they’re turned off? These energy vampires, also known as vampire appliances, account for a significant portion of the energy used in an average home in Silicon Valley. To combat this, make it a habit to unplug these devices when not in use, or better yet, connect them to power strips that are easy to switch off. By reducing your phantom load, you can save on wasted electricity and see a noticeable difference in your energy bills.
2. Opt for Warm or Cold Water When Washing Clothes
While hot water may be necessary for sanitizing clothes during this quarantine period, consider switching to warm or cold water for regular laundry. By making this simple change, you can cut down on each load’s energy consumption by half. With advancements in detergent technology, clothes can be just as clean when washed in cold water, saving you even more on utilities.
3. Turn Off Lights and Fans When Not in Use
With most family members staying at home in Silicon Valley, it’s essential to instill the habit of turning off lights and fans when they’re not needed. While this may seem like a small step, it can add up to significant monthly energy savings. Encourage everyone in your household to be mindful of energy usage and contribute to a more sustainable future.
4. Run Full Loads in Washing Machines and Dishwashers
When using your washing machine or dishwasher, make sure to maximize their efficiency by running full loads. This not only saves water but also reduces energy consumption. If you find yourself needing clean dishes before a full load is ready, consider hand-washing the necessary items instead. By being mindful of your usage, you can make a noticeable difference in your utility bills.
5. Clean Light Bulbs for Optimal Efficiency
Did you know that dirty light bulbs emit 30 percent less light than clean ones? This decrease in efficiency not only affects the quality of light but also wastes energy. Take the time to clean your light bulbs and fixtures regularly to ensure you’re getting the most out of your lighting. Grab a stepladder, some rags, and dust off both the bulb and fixture to enjoy the full brightness of your lights.
6. Limit Shower Time
Long, steamy showers may be a guilty pleasure for many of us, but they also waste gallons of water and money. Consider setting a timer or using your favorite song as a guide to limit your shower time. Additionally, you can turn off the water while waiting to rinse out your conditioner or take quick showers to conserve water. By being mindful of your water usage, you can contribute to water conservation efforts and save on your water bills.
Saving Money on Groceries
7. Use Less Laundry Detergent
When it comes to laundry, it’s a common misconception that more detergent leads to cleaner clothes. In reality, using excessive amounts of detergent not only wastes money but can also leave behind soap residue. As a general rule, you typically only need a tablespoon of detergent per regular load size. By using the appropriate amount, your clothes will be just as clean, and you’ll save money on detergent purchases.
8. Replace Paper Towels with Rags
While paper towels are convenient for cleaning, they can quickly add up to your monthly costs. Save your paper towels for messes that need to go straight into the trash, such as oil and grease spills. For general cleaning and dusting, switch to reusable cotton shop towels or repurpose old clothes like t-shirts or bath towels. Instead of washing these rags after every use, run a load of laundry specifically for them. Even when factoring in the cost of washing, you’ll still save more compared to buying rolls of paper towels.
9. Make Your Own Cleaners
In light of the coronavirus pandemic, proper cleaning and disinfecting have become more crucial than ever. However, finding commercial cleaners and supplies may be challenging at times. Instead of relying solely on store-bought products, consider making your own homemade cleaners using common household items like vinegar, baking soda, lemon or lime juice, and essential oils. Not only are these DIY cleaners cheaper, but they also offer a more sustainable and eco-friendly alternative.
10. Organize Your Pantry
Keeping your cabinets and pantry well-organized can have a significant impact on your monthly food expenses. By having a clear view of what you already have, you’re less likely to buy unnecessary items or ingredients. Take the time to organize your storage spaces and group items into categories such as spices, baking supplies, snacks, and condiments. This way, you can easily find what you need and avoid overspending on groceries.
11. Stick to Your Shopping List and Plan Your Meals
With daily trips to the grocery store becoming less feasible, it’s important to be efficient with your shopping. Avoid panic buying and hoarding by creating a shopping list before heading to the store. Focus on essential quarantine items such as canned goods, grains, cooking oil, and pantry staples. By planning your meals in advance, you can make use of the ingredients you already have and reduce food waste. This not only saves money but also ensures that you’re prepared during these uncertain times.
12. Set a Household Budget
If you haven’t already done so, now is the perfect time to create a household budget. With many common sources of spending currently unavailable, such as dining out and entertainment, you may find that you have more room in your budget than before. Take advantage of this opportunity to allocate any extra cash to an emergency fund. Saving whenever possible will provide you with a financial cushion and peace of mind during this crisis. Sit down with your family, discuss ways to save money collectively, and make it a team effort.
In conclusion, practicing these 12 money-saving household habits can have a significant impact on your finances and the environment. By being mindful of your energy usage, optimizing your laundry and dishwashing routines, and implementing smart grocery shopping strategies, you can save money while making a positive contribution to a greener future. Embrace these habits and make them a part of your “new normal” to ensure a more sustainable and secure future for yourself and your family.