What does it cost to go green? Living a more sustainable lifestyle can be costly, but if you’re prepared for expenses and spending smartly, it can also save you money. Read on for a quick rundown on the various finances of going green.
There are lots of ways to change up your day-to-day habits and make your lifestyle more sustainable—but some of these changes involve spending money up front. Common green purchases include a reusable mug, plastic lunchbox, canvas shopping bags and more. While there’s nothing wrong with a sustainable shopping spree, you can reduce your “going green” expenses by reusing items you already have. A jam jar can be repurposed as a to-go coffee cup and a regular metal fork works just as well as a special set of sustainable eating utensils. If you do find yourself in need of specific items to support your sustainable lifestyle, check local thrift stores before buying new.
The cost of an electric vehicle ranges from around $26,000 to over $100,000—a significant chunk of change when compared to the cost of a traditional vehicle. Then again, electric and hybrid vehicles can offer significant savings on fuel. Another option is to commit to a no- or low-car lifestyle. Living without a vehicle can make a massive dent in your monthly expenses, with some research showing that the average cost of car ownership is more than $1,000 per month. On the other hand, walking, biking, carpooling or taking public transportation can reduce your carbon footprint and save on gas, parking, vehicle maintenance and so on—great news for the environment, and your wallet.
Eating a more sustainable diet can be expensive—but it can also be cheap! The key is knowing what to buy, what to avoid, and how the food in your house. If you’re interested in reducing your meat consumption, choose dried beans, eggs and nut butters, rather than pricey pre-packaged meat substitutes. Another tip to reduce grocery costs while going green is: use every part of your meat or vegetables. Save bones and vegetables scraps in a bag in the freezer, and use them to make broth once per month. You can also aim to eat with the seasons, which means meal planning around what’s fresh and on sale at the supermarket.
When you start to explore the world of sustainable investments, you will learn that going green—within the context of a diverse investment strategy, managed by professionals—just might make you money. Sustainable investing, also known as socially responsible investing, means designing an investment strategy around companies whose mission and actions align with your values. It’s about not only receiving a financial return, but making a positive impact on the environment, local communities and the world at large. For more information on the finances of green investing, check out the HUECU blog!
Good news! The finances of going green include a number of tax benefits. Taxpayers who make sustainable home improvements can qualify for up to $3,200 in tax credits. So, if you’ve recently added energy-efficient insulation, central air or a heat pump, you may be eligible for this credit. In addition, the Residential Clean Energy Credit offers taxpayers a credit worth 30% of the cost of installing clean energy equipment such as solar panels, solar water heaters or a wind turbine. On the other hand, people who buy a new electric vehicle may qualify for a tax credit of up to $7,500, or a credit of up to $4,000 if the electric vehicle is used.
Reducing your energy consumption is one of the easiest ways to save money while also going green. Purchase energy-efficient light bulbs, use motion sensors for outdoor lights, choose energy-efficient appliances, and find tips online to help you warm or cool your home without cranking up the heat or air conditioner to the max. Another option is to install solar panels: while there are upfront costs, you can enjoy energy cost savings every month and potentially sell back excess energy to the grid.