You've already been told that you should buy energy-efficient appliances, swap out your old windows for new double panes, install some solar panels, and do a whole pile of other expensive things to green your home. And you know they'll save you money in the long term, but what if you don't have the money right now? Well, we feel you -- we know the economy is tough, and some green dreams are just that: dreams.
So, without further ado, here's a roundup of ways to green your home on the cheap and save money in the coming year.
*Rain barrel irrigation. You plus a barrel plus a tap plus some kind of riser=major savings. You'll save big on utilities, which is a good thing, with water bills going up in many regions of the country. In addition, you won't be wasting potable water on irrigation, which is a major bonus! You can line up as many or as few barrels as you like to collect rainwater for irrigation purposes, and use the height of a riser (an old crate or box will do) to create water pressure so you can water without needing a pump. Have a big garden, or lots of thirsty plants? Ideally you're thinking in the long term about converting to a low-water garden, but for the time being, a large rain collector connected to your gutters can store a big volume of water for your use.
*Seeds, seeds, baby. Planning on hitting up the nursery for young plants and starts this spring? Think again. Growing from seed is so much less expensive, and it allows you to grow things you can't get at the store. Seed packets often cost less than a dollar, although some heirlooms and specialty plants cost more, and you can get them from a variety of sources including seed exchanges. You might also want to explore the wide world of cuttings and scion exchanges.
*Ditch the lawn. Lawns are not very environmentally friendly, they're a pain in the patootie to manage, and they tend to suck up money right along with water, fertilizer, and lawn management chemicals. That goes double if you're using a landscaping company to handle your lawn for you because it's too much work. Explore lawn alternatives and give your yard a new look.
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