NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- Looking for cost-efficient steps to do your part for the environment? Jessica Anderson, a staff writer for Kiplinger's Personal Finance, suggests five ways to save money while helping to save the earth:
What it does for your wallet: By switching five incandescent bulbs for compact florescent light bulbs you can save 50% a year on your lighting bill. What it does for the earth: If every household in the country did this it would eliminate the same amount of greenhouse gas as removing 8 million cars a year from the road.
Buy local produce.
What it does for your wallet: Shipping produce can drive up prices and compromise taste. Buying foods in season from local farmer's markets and roadside stands not only improves quality, but cuts cost. Tip: Go to Local Harvest.org to find a market in your area. What it does for the earth: Helps keep gas-guzzling trucks off the road.
Install a programmable thermostat.
What it does for your wallet: Homeowners can save more than $100 a year on their energy bills by installing a programmable thermostat. What it does for the earth: If one out of every 10 U.S. households used programmable thermostats, it would eliminate 17 billion pounds of greenhouse gases, according to the Energy Star Action Guide.
Choose Energy Star appliances.
What it does for your wallet: Energy Star appliances use up to 50% less energy compared with other home appliances. Using them saved American consumers $14 billion on their utility bills last year. What it does for the earth: Last year the use of energy-efficient appliances cut greenhouse gas emissions as much as removing 25 million cars from the road.
Pay bills online.
What it does for your wallet: Some companies are starting to charge additional fees for processing paper bills. Blue Cross of California charges $2 a month for paying with paper, for example, and MCI charges 99 cents, reports Kiplinger's Mark Solheim. Paying online allows you to bypass these fees and minimizes the chance of identity theft by eliminating the paper trail most thieves use to access financial information. What it does for the earth: Not only does it eliminate clutter, you can also save trees!
By Marshall Loeb