How these eco-friendly tips can save money (and the planet)

March 28, 2023 by PEMCO Insurance

earth-day.pngThe majority of U.S. adults (86%) say they try to live in ways that help the environment, according to Pew Research Center. About two-thirds say they’re able to do it “at least some of the time,” and about one in five say “all of the time.”  

If you, too, want to do more to reduce your environmental footprint as we approach the 53rd anniversary of Earth Day (Saturday, April 22), consider trying some of these 15 eco-friendly changeups. Not only will you do the planet a favor, but you’ll likely save some money, too!  

How can I conserve water? 

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the average household wastes 10,000 gallons of water a year between things like drippy faucets and running toilets. One in 10 wastes 90 gallons or more a day! Here are five ways to cut your water use: 

  1. Check your toilets. Toilets can run without making a sound. Check yours by putting a few drops of food coloring in the tank. Don’t flush. After about 30 minutes, see if there’s any color in the bowl. If so, you have a silent leak that may be caused by a worn flapper. Next, add coloring to the bowl and wait another 30 minutes. Wipe the base of the toilet where it meets the floor with a white paper towel. If you see color on the paper, you likely have a failing wax ring that’s allowing water to escape and over time, rot your floor. Replacing a toilet flapper is a DIY-friendly project (hello, YouTube video), but if it’s the wax ring, you’ll need a plumber. 

  2. Fix drippy faucets. A faucet that drips once a second adds about 10% to your water bill and wastes enough water in a year to supply more than 180 showers. If the drain stopper is closed and there’s no overflow (like in vessel, kitchen, bar, and laundry sinks), all that dripping water eventually spills onto the floor, warping hardwood floors and setting the stage for mold and rot if it’s not fixed promptly.  

  3. Replace showerheads manufactured before 1992. Federal regulations limit showerhead flow to 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm) or less. Many showerheads made before 1992 had flow rates of 5.5 gpm, so if your older home still has its original fixtures, switching your showerhead could cut your shower-water use in half! 

  4. Keep a pitcher of drinking water in the refrigerator. That will save all the water that normally goes down the drain as you’re waiting for the tap water to get really cold. 

  5. Compost rather than putting scraps down the garbage disposal. To work properly, your garbage disposal needs LOTS of water running as you use it.  

How can I save energy? 

Small investments can add up to big savings over time, starting with simple choices like these (bonus: most are DIY-friendly):   

  1. Install a programmable thermostat. Save 10% on energy costs when your thermostat automatically adjusts when you’re sleeping or away. You may even get a rebate from your utility company. Learn more about programmable thermostats

  2. Add heat-blocking window coverings. Keep heat in during winter and out during summer when you replace sheer curtains with heavier drapes or blinds. 

  3. Adjust your water heater’s temperature. Use a kitchen thermometer to test the temperature of the hot water coming out of your tap. To prevent scalding injuries, the Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends 120 degrees at the faucet (your water heater may need to be set slightly higher than 120, since water can lose heat as it travels through the system). If you can decrease your tank’s temperature from where it’s set now, you’ll save energy and reduce water-heating costs.  

A word of caution: Don’t be tempted to turn down your water heater too much. That could allow dangerous bacteria like Legionella to grow. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends tank temperatures of 140 degrees, at least for multifamily residences.  

  1. Switch to LED lights. Federal regulations will phase out manufacturing of traditional incandescent lights by July, but don’t wait until then to try LEDs the next time a traditional bulb burns out. LEDs use one-sixth the energy of incandescents to deliver the same amount of light and last 10 times longer. The Department of Energy estimates that the average American family can save about $100 a year by going all-LED. 

  2. Insulate the attic and crawlspace. Know your insulation’s R-values (short for thermal “resistance”) and if it’s lacking, beef it up to recommendations for your area.  

We also love these tips shared by Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit housing organization we’ve partnered with over the years.  

How can I drive more eco-friendly? 

Even if an EV or hybrid isn’t an option for you right now, these five simple steps can help you stretch each tank of gas and cut emissions: 

  1. Turn off instead of idling. Why burn gas and pump exhaust into the air to go nowhere? Turn off your engine when you’re delayed by road construction or waiting in a ferry line.  

  2. Don’t warm up the engine. At least, not if you drive a modern fuel-injected car. Their sensors adjust the gasoline and air mix to account for cold temperatures, unlike their carbureted predecessors that did need a warm-up on frosty mornings.  

  3. Inflate tires to manufacturers’ specifications. Underinflated tires take more energy to roll, cutting fuel economy. Here are more reasons to check your tires’ pressure

  4. Use cruise control. The consistent speed boosts mileage and saves fuel. For safety, though, skip cruise control in the rain

  5. Reduce weight in the trunk. Added weight (like out-of-season sports equipment) cuts gas mileage, sending you to the pumps more often. 

How does PEMCO care for the environment? 

Understanding and respecting our environmental impacts is important to PEMCO, and it’s one of our three Mutual Good pillars. Our commitment to environmental stewardship helps shape the decisions we make as a company. We seek to do our part through actions that include shrinking our physical footprint with a hybrid workplace, encouraging paperless options, reducing our fleet and migrating to EVs and flex-fuel vehicles. Additionally, we partner with local experts to help mitigate climate risks and invest in our future through programs that empower youth to become leaders for climate solutions.   

Share on social media

Comments on this post