The year 2018 has arrived and, with the promise of a full New Year ahead, many of us pause to think about our lifestyles, spending, and health.
If you are considering making some positive changes this year, check out these eight money-saving and green New Year’s resolutions from our staff here at GreenUP.
These suggestions will help you to save money on household expenses and reduce waste and energy consumption.
1. Use salt responsibly on roads and walkways
At this time of year, we need traction on our roadways to avoid slips and falls. However, using road salt — especially to excess — has negative implications for our waterways and wildlife, eats away at our footwear and clothing, and harms dogs’ and cats’ paws.
Using road salt only when required and using it conservatively reduces your impact on the environment and reduces the amount of salt you need to purchase.
You may also consider purchasing Swish Clean and Green Ice Melter, which is a more responsible alternative to conventional road salt and is available from the GreenUP Store.
2. Lug a mug
Bring your own travel mug to buy your coffee or tea: you will save money and help the environment.
“Both Tim Hortons and Starbucks offer a 10 cent discount if you bring your own mug,” says GreenUP’s environmental educator Glen Caradus says.
“That might not seem like much, but if you’re a regular coffee drinker the savings can add up fast. In 2016, Canadians threw away over 1.5 billion disposable cups, which is a big cost to our environment.”
3. Avoid idling your car
Modern cars only need about 30 seconds to warm up in the winter. That means that there is no need to warm up your car any longer than that.
Reduce your spending on gas and reduce your greenhouse gas emissions by only turning on your car when you need it — and avoid the drive-through.
When it is -15°C or colder, a more cost-effective and greener alternative is to plug in your car’s block heater overnight. Not only does this make your car easier to start in the cold weather, but a warmer engine will heat the air in the car more quickly.
Idling your car when you are inside can also attract theft, which has expensive and time-consuming implications.
4. Ride a bike or walk to work, or take transit
In the winter, this is a tough one, because the weather can be chilly and windy and not that appealing for walking or bike riding. However, you can save a lot of money by choosing active transportation instead of driving.
“It costs about $0.58 per kilometre to operate a car compared to $0.06 per kilometre to bike, and walking is free,” according to GreenUP’s Transportation and Urban Design Coordinator Jaime Akiyama:
Curious about how much you spend when you drive? Check out CAA’s Driving Costs Calculator.
Be sure to consider the cost of operating a car plus the added parking costs. Walking or cycling will save you money and provide you with some of the daily physical activity that you need.
5. Buy dry goods in bulk
To save money and reduce packaging and waste, bring your own jars or containers to a bulk food store and buy your dry goods in bulk.
Using jars also prevents pests from getting into your food, such as mice or moths.
But be sure to only purchase what you need in bulk because, if you really want to save money, it is important to avoid food waste.
6. Use a power bar and turn it off when not in use
At home or at work, remember that any plugged-in lamps, computers, and kitchen appliances are still using “phantom power”, which means they are still drawing small amounts of energy from your electrical outlets.
To save money on your electricity bill and to reduce your energy consumption, plug your appliances into a power bar and switch it off when not in use.
Or use power bars with built-in timers that can shut off automatically during times when you’re not using them.
7. Turn off lights when not in use
Turning off lights will save you money because this will help reduce your energy usage.
When you leave a room, simply turn off the light to cut your costs.
If you frequently forget to turn lights off, you may also want to install automated lights that shut off automatically for you.
8. Install and use a programmable thermostat
To reduce your heating costs, set your programmable thermostat so that your home is cooler while you are sleeping or while you’re at work.
For every 1°C that you reduce your heat by over a seven-hour period, you will save one per cent on your energy bill.
Heating and cooling your home accounts for about 65 per cent of your energy bill, so you can easily save $100 a year by using your heating and cooling systems more efficiently.
Give one or more of these New Year’s resolutions a try to save money and to make your lifestyle in 2018 greener and cleaner.
Have a happy, healthy, economical, and green New Year from all the staff at GreenUP!
Jenn McCallum is the Water Programs Coordinator at GreenUP. For more information about her programs, contact her at 705745-3238 ext. 208 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.