$550 You're Wasting at Home

While you're at work making money, some might be trickling away at home. Wasted resources are wasted cash. We did the math to prove that not only is going green good for the Earth, its good for your wallet.


Here's how you can significantly lessen your impact on the environment and save $550 this year.

Recycle your Unused Electronics
Cost Savings: $125 or more
You know that drawer in your home filled with old cell phones and chargers you're hesitant to throw out but not sure what else to do with? Recycle them for cash. Sites like SecureTradeIn.com, YouRenew.com, and Gazelle.com will pay for your used electronics. We found 21 cell phones worth $125 or more - and laptops, tablets and other electronics could give you an even bigger payback.

Switch to Energy Efficient Light Bulbs
Cost Savings: $112
Lighting represents about 11% of your home's energy bill-$210 annually. Replacing old incandescent light bulbs with efficient compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs), light emitting diodes (LEDs) or halogens can save you up to 75% on your annual lighting bill. For a home with 45 light fixtures, that's $112 a year.

> Related: 7 Things You Don't Know About Home Lighting (but Should)

Water the Lawn and Garden with a Rain Barrel
Cost Savings: $100+
The average U.S. household spends more than $500 on its water and sewer bill annually and its been estimated that homeowners use 20%-60% of their water to irrigate the lawn or garden, depending on their location and climate. A rain barrel costs about $50 to build and as little as $119 to buy on amazon.com. Irrigate with the rainwater that collects after running off your roof and the barrel will pay for itself in no time.

Plug Electronics into Power Strips
Cost Savings: $100
When switched "off," televisions, computers, and other appliances continue drawing energy so they can turn back on immediately. This means energy and money is wasted; this phantom load costs the average household as much as $100 a year. Plug your equipment into power strips that can be turned off and then use the power strip switch to power down your equipment. Or, use smart plugs, which use timers to power down electronics at the outlet when they're not in use. Try the Belkin Conserve Socket ($10 at amazon.com).

Use Paperless Billing
Cost savings: $70
Ask your billers if they offer a discount for signing up for paperless billing. Since it saves them on printing and posting costs, many offer a $1 discount per bill, and you can save an extra $.44 on postage. Assuming you can save $1.44 on each of four monthly bills, you'll save nearly $70 a year, plus a couple trees.

> Related: Paperless Billing: 10 Pros and Cons

Adjust the Water Heater
Cost Savings: $30
Hot water accounts for as much as 25% of your heating, hot water, and electricity bill. Much of it is wasted. Turn down your water heater so your tap water is tolerable and wash your clothes in cold water to save 6% or more on your bills - roughly $30 a year.

Fix Water Leaks
Cost Savings: $20
Drip… drip… drip… no one wants to hear it, and especially pay for it. A leaky faucet will leak about three gallons of water a day, while a leaky toilet might leak 22. Even with the low cost of tap water in the U.S., those leaks could add up to nearly $20 a year. If you're replacing faucets, shower heads or toilet fixtures, then look for the WaterSense label to ensure that the products you buy use low-flow technology to avoid wasted water.

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Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.