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Lori Cohen Criticos

September 2, 2022

How you can save money going green

If you've checked into the cost of an energy solution for your home to get off the grid (goodbye, Eskom), you may be under the impression that living sustainably can be an expensive exercise. However, in some cases, it can actually save you money. 

Buying an efficient fridge could result in savings of up to R1,500 in energy costs over the course of its lifetime. That may be small fry to you, but the savings to planet Earth make it worth the effort to choose fridge A over fridge B. 

Considering that fuel prices and interest rates are eating into disposable (and investable) income, it's worth thinking about other ways to make sustainable choices that are also easy on the budget. 

Rethink driving habits

You don't have to trade in your 2.0-litre car just yet. (Even if your next vehicle will be a hybrid, right?) According to the US Department of Energy, you can reduce your fuel consumption by up to 40% by driving smarter. This means reducing your speed limit and braking more gently, for example. A tank of petrol that would normally get you 650 kilometres may get you more than 900 kilometres with your safer and softer driving strategies in place.

Once you crunch the numbers, it's clear that a change in mindset will pay off. A motorist who spends R8,000 a month on petrol will save over R30,000 a year. They could be diverting into servicing debt, saving or investing. That will immediately offset some of the pain you feel from the rate hike. 

You could also keep your guzzler for weekend and holiday use, and buy a little runabout. Business Insider reports that a vehicle is fuel-efficient when it consumes between five and eight litres per 100 km. A car that consumes between eight and 12 litres per 100 km is considered average, and anything over 12 litres per 100 km is considered poor fuel efficiency. A sassy Toyota Aygo 1.0 currently wins the race to save at 4.3 litres per 100 km. 

Save on your monthly variables

Saving money on essentials like clothing and food is always welcome. But the bigger picture is your carbon footprint - and slashing that whenever possible. One effective way is to change your buying habits, for example, by committing to buy only clothing from sustainable brands. 

The fashion industry is a significant contributor to global carbon emissions, estimated at 4% annually. However, there are ways to shop more responsibly and make choices that limit your contribution to climate change. Look for small, independent brands, invest in high-quality clothing and home goods that last longer, and check a brand's website for information on where their clothes are made and how they are transported. Opt for brands that use eco-friendly materials like organic cotton, hemp, or soy fabrics whenever possible.

Another factor to consider is being more conscious about food. Every year, we throw away 6.6 tonnes of food. This is not only bad for the environment but also our wallets. To avoid wasting food and money, plan your meals by making a rough meal plan for each week and only buying what you need. By cooking in bulk, you can also reduce food waste and save money. Prepare larger quantities of food and freeze the excess for later meals. That way, you'll always have healthy, home-cooked meals on hand instead of resorting to takeaways or unhealthy microwave meals.

Could you go off the grid and save money?

A lot is going on in the energy space in South Africa, and it's hard to predict how much you'll save in the long run with environmentally friendly options. We do not doubt that the cost of solar will come down as more options come to market and Eskom refines its sustainable energy policy. 

However, you can start lowering your electricity bill now. LED, for example, uses at least 75% less energy than traditional light bulbs and lasts 25 times longer. According to the Consumer Federation of America, replacing just five of your most commonly used incandescent bulbs with Energy Star-certified LEDs could save R1,200 annually. 

Plugging appliances into a power strip is one of the easiest ways to reduce your home's overall energy consumption. By plugging all of your electronics into one, you can quickly and easily turn off every single device in your home with the push of a button.

Check your office's green credentials

More and more businesses are adopting green practices and finding that it's not only good for the environment but also saves them money. This leaves them with more money to invest back into their business to grow. Going green has many benefits, including tax breaks, a cleaner workplace, and the peace of mind that comes from knowing you are doing your part to protect the environment. So how can you make the switch? 

A business can reduce its environmental impact by adopting a paperless workflow. By scanning documents into cloud-based systems, companies can reduce the amount of paper waste they produce. This, in turn, can result in less copy paper and other small waste products being purchased over a year.

Switching to LED to reduce energy costs and installing a filtration and dispenser system for customers and employees are also easy wins. 

How else might this benefit your company's bottom line? As more and more people are looking to invest their money in green businesses, companies that strive to reduce overhead costs and meet green standards are likely to see a boost in investment.

Take the leap to hybrid working

As an employer, you also have the opportunity to rethink the work policies. There's less and less need for employees to be in the office all the time. With cloud networks, video conferencing and screen sharing, employees can communicate and collaborate efficiently no matter where they are. Employees who telecommute or work from home can save the company money using their resources and equipment. You can also the consider downsizing your office space which lead to incredible overhead savings. 

These are just a few ways to go green while saving money. When you take advantage of these and other ways to help the environment, you are not only investing in your future; you are investing in our world.

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