My motto for this year is "Debt-Free in 2013." Making one simple change in my cell phone plan saved me $360 a year. And I've cut out three fancy coffees per week to put $624 back in my wallet. That's almost $1,000 in savings already.
But I can do more, which is why, thanks to tips from the City and County of Denver, I learned that I could combine my penny-pinching with energy savings. I'll help my wallet—and the planet, too. Here's what I've learned:
1. Take the Denver Energy Challenge: Speak with an energy advisor to learn about ways you can cut energy waste, save money on your utility bill, and improve the comfort and air quality inside your home. The service is completely free, and advisors can also help you learn more about how to get a low-cost energy loan—you could finance projects as low as $500—that is available to citizens who want to make energy-efficient changes to their homes.
2. Get a water conservation audit: Find out ways to reduce your overall water usage (and shrink your bill) with a free audit from Denver Water. Ask about their rebate program, which helps both residential and commercial customers get money back for installing items such as high-efficiency toilets, washing machines, and irrigation devices. (Read more about Colorado's water woes in "Dry Times.")
3. Cut your engines: Did you know that idling vehicles are responsible for 9,ooo tons of air pollution and more than 100,00 tons of CO2 emissions in Denver every year? Just one minute of idling creates more carbon monoxide than the smoke from three packs of cigarettes. Unless you're in traffic, turn off the engine—it can save up to two tanks of gas per year. Visit Engines Off Denver for more information.
4. Keep it close to home: Purchasing locally made goods means less fossil fuel is used for transport. The folks at Colorado Local First have made this one easy for you. Their handy local business guide—organized by neighborhood, no less—will help you find everything from farmers markets to dry cleaners close to home.
5. Use public transportation or bike when possible: If I could, I'd ditch my car altogether. When you factor in car payments, insurance, gas, car washes, and maintenance, costs add up quick. If you can, trade four wheels for a nice bike and an RTD pass.
—Image courtesy of Shutterstock