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We live in a society where consumer waste is a huge problem. I often speak with clients who complain about their monthly cost of living: their utilities are too high, groceries are too expensive and gas prices are ridiculous. Sure, the cost of living isn’t getting any cheaper. But once I sit down with them and we go over their payments, we both realize that many of these costs can be reduced by making an effort to live a little more simply.

When we are conscious of our everyday choices and how they affect our finances, we put ourselves in a better position to meet our financial goals. Here are some surprisingly simple tips from the Department of Energy to help reduce your impact on the environment and save money at the same time.

  • Replace light bulbs: Replace standard incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) and you can save 75% off lighting costs.
  • Save water: Installing faucet aerators and low-flow shower heads will cut water heating costs by 50% and save up to $300 per year. It will also cut water use by up to 50%. Only run your dishwasher and washing machine with full loads.
  • Unplug: Turn off the computer when you’re not logged on and the TV when you’re tuned off. And unplug battery chargers and other equipment you’re not using. Taken together, these small items can use as much power as your refrigerator.
  • Adjust the water heater: Turn your water heater down to 120° or the “Normal” setting when home, and to the lowest setting when away. Water heating accounts for about 13% of home energy costs.
  • Plan ahead at the grocery store: Plan out your meals for the next few weeks before going into the grocery store so you buy only what you need and don’t waste food that spoils before you can use it. Plan your grocery list and meals around items that are currently on sale. Buy items in bulk for a lower cost and freeze the rest to be used at a later date.
  • Live more seasonally: Spring is finally on the horizon, and getting the right temperature at home gets really tricky for us Midwest folks. Be very mindful of what your heater is doing during this weird mid-season weather. Consider turning it off for a few hours on in-between weather days, and hold off on the air conditioner until you really, really need it.

What other ideas do you to save money by living green?

Tags: Chicago personal finance expert, Chicago financial planner, Chicago green living, Chicago women entrepreneurs, Chicago green living advice, Chicago financial advice

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