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The impact of climate change is among us as global warming intensifies extreme weather events and natural disasters worldwide.
In Ontario, the costs of climate change are expected to increase by $1.5 billion annually for infrastructure and transportation upgrades. By 2030, the financial implications of extreme weather events will amount to $13 billion.
Today’s calls for governments, corporations and consumers to account for climate change and alter their buying behaviors are louder than ever. Yet, the green market is still costly for some who hope to embrace environmentally-friendly lifestyles.
Fortunately, there are ways citizens can live more sustainably while saving money. Here are six ways to go green without breaking the bank.
1. Use LED Lightbulbs
Swapping out incandescent light bulbs for light-emitting diode (LED) light bulbs is an easy way to go green on a budget.
The consumer price for LEDs has dropped significantly as more people have adopted their use in the home.
Those who opt for ENERGY STAR-certified LED light bulbs also benefit from using 90% less energy than traditional lighting. Additionally, LEDs can last 15 years longer than incandescents.
2. Reduce Plastic Consumption
The global population produces nearly 400 million tons of plastic pollution annually, negatively impacting marine and terrestrial ecosystems and posing a risk to human health.
Despite its relativity to global recycling averages, Canada is seemingly well on its way to reducing 89% of its plastic waste that gets landfilled, incinerated and leaked into the environment. Some might even consider the nation’s efforts of zero-plastic waste achievable with the influx of plastic bag bans, tax hikes, fines and single-use plastic phase-outs in recent years.
Reducing your plastic consumption at home is just as critical as swapping out plastic bags for reusable ones at the grocery store. Little changes like storing leftovers in reusable containers with lids — as opposed to plastic wrap and foil — and taking a few extra minutes to make coffee the traditional way instead of using plastic pods goes a long way.
3. Unplug Devices
Estimates show that 7% to 9% of Canadian households spend over 10% of their income on home energy bills. Low-income families living in energy poverty also spend five times more on utilities than those who aren’t in energy poverty.
As utility costs spike across the provinces and territories, finding ways to reduce energy consumption and save money on bills is crucial.
Unplugging your devices and appliances when you’re not using them will significantly impact your annual energy costs — opting for smart plugs to avoid energy vampires is just as helpful.
Also, it’s best to remember to turn off lights and ceiling fans whenever you leave a room. Leaving them on will add to your electricity costs and waste unnecessary energy.
4. Install White Roofing
Your roof’s life span differs according to the roofing materials. Most roofs with asphalt shingles last 25 years, while slate and tile roofs can endure up to 50 years. Of course, your region’s climate also determines your roof’s longevity.
Although a roof replacement is costly, the return on investment should appeal to you. A new roof can improve your home’s energy efficiency and prevent damage by sealing out air and water leaks.
Households with flat rooftops might consider white roofing when it’s time to upgrade. White roofs can reduce a building’s energy consumption by 20% and save ample money on energy bills.
5. Eat Plant-Based Foods
According to the United Nations, more than one-third of the world’s greenhouse gases come from the food industry, with two-thirds deriving from agriculture and land use changes.
Additionally, livestock farming makes up a significant portion of agricultural emissions. For instance, beef and lamb emissions per gram are 250 times higher than legumes — two servings of vegetables produce fewer emissions than meat products.
It should be no surprise that plant-based eating is the most environmentally-friendly diet you can adopt. Cutting out animal by-products and switching to high-protein legumes also contain fewer calories and are much better for you.
With the rising costs of consumer goods, eating primarily plant-based foods can help you save money at the grocery store.
6. Program Your Thermostat
Reprogramming your thermostat for energy efficiency is another way to decrease your energy consumption and save money.
Even lowering your home’s temperature by 2° to 3° Celsius will ensure your home stays comfortable and help reduce costs. Consider programming your thermostat to 17° C at night or when nobody’s home and 20° C during the day.
Investing in a smart thermostat is helpful to ensure optimal energy efficiency at home. Smart thermostats learn your temperature preferences and household occupancy while enabling smartphone remote control access to modify the settings.
Going Green Can Be Budget-Friendly After All
You can start going green by making simple adjustments to your home and lifestyle without spending money on major upgrades. While there are things you can invest more money in to improve your sustainability, the long-term ROI is nearly always worth the initial expense.
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