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Here's How To Greenify Your Family's Home On Any Budget

By David Bauer

Household finances can be tricky when raising a family. How much we make, and how much things cost, obviously factor into the decisions we make. But there may be more worth thinking about. What about the environment? How can we make greener, energy-efficient purchases without breaking the bank, or invest in eco-friendly goods that may have a higher upfront cost, but will save us money in the long run? What is the best strategy to employ, in order to live green, stay within budget, and do our future selves a few favors? 

Every household is different, but there are a few options to consider, some of which require more of an upfront investment (and offer more long-term payoff) than others. 

Lowering energy bills can help your family save money and reduce your impact on the environment. There are several ways to save without making any big purchases. First, consider instituting an "unplug rule," and unplug any electronic device that isn't currently being used. It sounds simple, but it can be hard to break the habit of leaving phone chargers and computer cables plugged in at all times. To make things easier, consider buying some fairly inexpensive "smart" power strips that can turn off all connected devices when you turn off a "control" device, such as a T.V. 

We are often told to hang onto our appliances as long as they are functional, in order to save money. But replacing small appliances around the house can actually be a great way to improve the energy-efficiency of your household without making any large-scale purchases. Things such as hair dryers, blenders, toasters, rice cookers and shower heads can be replaced with newer, more eco-friendly models. 

Even new models that don't mention their energy-saving capabilities are likely to be more energy-efficient than their counterparts of ten or more years. This is due to both changing product standards and the fact that appliances break down from wear and tear over time, even if they seem to be functioning normally. The older an appliance is, the more energy it will typically use.

Energy-efficient lightbulbs are another small investment that can pay off in a big way. LED bulbs use up to 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs, and can last up to 25 times longer, depending on size and brand. For a helpful look at how much this might save you annually, check out this helpful breakdown from the U.S. Energy Department.