There was a time when environmental concerns at home were strictly for the tie-dyed, sandals set. Today, however, "going green" is so common that it is a thriving industry.

The two chief benefits of going green at home are that you may help sustain finite resources such as fossil fuels while you save money. To help jump start your green campaign, here are 5 no- or low-cost ways to improve the environment while you save a few dollars in the process:

  1. Compost! Those kitchen scraps and grass clippings, to name a few, are like gold in your garden. Hardware and garden stores have several composting options from which to choose, depending on your available space and composting volume. Composting reduces landfill waste and saves you money on fertilizer. In particular, your foliage will love coffee grounds and eggshells. And remember: Many products made from recycled materials are compostable.
  2. Be water wise. We don't usually think of rainy places such as Oregon or Washington as having water problems, but 2018 was a drought year in the Pacific Northwest. Water shortages occur in almost every region of the U.S. You can save more of this precious commodity by installing low-flow faucets and showerheads, taking shorter showers, converting to drought tolerant plants, and having your car scrubbed at a car wash that recycles their water.
  3. Install energy efficient light bulbs. Once you get over the sticker shock of energy efficient CFL bulbs and do the math, you'll find that they are a worthwhile investment. Yes, the initial cost is relatively steep, but they last much longer, which means that you'll save money in the long run.
  4. Go solar - even in a small way. When we think of converting to solar energy, we envision large, obtrusive panels on our roof and a large initial investment. But there are smaller solar options that can help you save both money and the environment. You can, for example, convert any wired landscape lighting to solar lights or change your fountain pump from AC to solar. There are many other solar options that don't require new roofing.
  5. Insulate. Many older homes have no insulation in the walls or ceiling. This means that heat generated by a furnace is lost in moments, requiring you to run the heater often to maintain a comfortable environment. Heat rises, so you can consume less natural gas, oil, electricity, or coal, and cut down on your heating bill by insulating your ceiling, to start. This may be a do-it-yourself project depending on the access to your roof or attic.

Your local energy company has other ways to help you save both the environment and money. Many energy companies will even offer a free energy analysis to help you determine the best ways to reduce consumption while you maintain - or improve - the quality of your life at home.