Today, living green isn’t just a lifestyle choice; it makes solid financial sense. As home energy costs increase, homeowners are seeking simple and smart ways to save energy and consequently save money, too. Trying to create a more environmentally sound household doesn’t have to start with taking out a massive loan in order to slap solar panels on your roof. Here are some easy ways to start living green:

1. Swap out all your incandescent bulbs for compact fluorescent lights (CFLs). CFLs last 15 times longer and use two-thirds less energy, saving at least 2,000 times their own weight in greenhouse gases. They have gotten much cheaper too, costing well below $10.

2. Start recycling your trash. You might already be a recycler if your city provides trash services that include recycling services. All you have to do is start making a habit of sorting your trash. If your community doesn’t recycle, start separating out your garbage yourself and taking it to a recycling center. Most will pay you some money for your bottles and cans — perhaps enough to pay one of your monthly utility bills.

3. Reduce the amount of refuse your home produces. Recycling is great, but you should also cut down the amount of material you have to recycle. Are there magazines you barely read? Are you consuming food items that come in too much packaging? Have you contacted junk mail sources to have your name removed from their lists? Have you ditched paper towels and switched to kitchen towels and cleaning rags?

4. Install a programmable thermostat. This will ensure you aren’t heating or cooling your home when you don’t need to. You can pick up one of these low-cost items at any home store, and you’ll recoup its purchase price in a month or two with the money you’ll save.

5. Get some large room fans. On hot days, always opt first to open your windows and get a cross-draft going with some large fans before switching on your air conditioning. And if your A/C unit is several years old, use the money you save on electricity by using those fans to put towards a new one. Even air conditioners that are 10 years old consume up to 50 percent more energy than new models.

6. Cut down on your showers. We Americans love hot showers so much that easily two-thirds of our home-heating bills are devoted to them. Install a water-saving shower head and start timing your showers to minimize your water consumption and cut your energy costs.

7. Change your ventilation filters regularly. Clogged-filters will force your heater and air conditioner to work harder, thus consuming more energy. Swap them out for new ones at least twice a year.

8. Don’t just clean the inside of your fridge. Use the brush attachment on your vacuum to clean its coils, which will be located either on the backside or behind the bottom grill of the refrigerator’s front plate. This will ensure your fridge works more efficiently and doesn’t overheat. Also, don’t forget to change the water filter if it has a water dispenser.

By following these very simple tips you can have bragging rights about “going green” without making much effort, and you’ll save yourself some cash too!

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About Cheryl Bower

Cheryl has been a Lyon Hoag (Burlingame, CA) resident since 2004. She was raised in the Richmond District (San Francisco, CA). Licensed as a Realtor since 2005, she represents buyers & sellers in the San Francisco & San Mateo County real estate markets.