Quick and Easy Tips to Save Money and the Environment

Have you been wanting to be more sustainable but are unsure of what to do first? You don’t have to make drastic lifestyle changes to be better for the planet! A great first step to consider is reducing your consumption. Thrifting or borrowing instead of buying are both sustainable and will save you money. Many environmentally friendly actions can actually bring significant savings over the course of a year, especially when coupled together. Keep reading to learn more!

  1. Adjust Your Thermostat ($206/yr) 

Did you know that adjusting your thermostat can save you 10% on your electric and gas bills? The ideal range to keep the thermostat set between is 68 and 76 degrees, using less heat in the winter and less A/C in the summer. To make this easier, you can layer up with cozy sweaters or make a hot cup of tea in the winter, and in the summer, you can use a fan or close your curtains when the sun is blazing into your windows.

  1. Use a Reusable Water Bottle ($180/yr) 

The average American spends $5 a week on bottled water, or around $260 a year. By purchasing a reusable water bottle, or using one you have stuffed in a cabinet somewhere, you could save over $180 a year. U-M’s campus has more than 300 water bottle filling stations and even more water fountains you can use! If you do not like the taste of tap water, try an affordable water filters. For example, a Brita filter costs about $40 and lasts for 6 months. Even with the cost of the filter, the total comes out to much less than if you regularly use single-use plastic bottles. 

  1. Unplug Appliances and Electronics When Not in Use ($100/yr) 

Most electronics and appliances use energy while they are plugged in, even when they are not actively in use. This is called “vampire energy.” By unplugging these appliances when you are not using them, you can save up to $100 a year. To make this action simpler, consider buying a power strip. This will enable you to turn off many appliances at once!

  1. Wash Full Loads of Laundry on Cold ($40/yr) 

You will not have to spend extra to heat the water needed to wash your clothes, and your clothes will still be thoroughly washed. 

  1. Bring Your Own Coffee Mug ($26/yr) 

Consider packing your own mug and asking the baristas to fill yours rather than using a disposable one. Many companies, like Starbucks, as well as on-campus cafes, offer this program. Some coffee shops also offer discounts for bringing in your own mug. Starbucks currently gives a $0.10 discount for doing this. 

  1. Turn Off the Faucet When Not in Use ($26/yr)

This is a good habit while cooking, brushing your teeth, and shaving, and it requires no upfront investment.

  1. Use Reusable Bags and Containers ($21/yr)

Consider opting for reusable snack bags or tupperware rather than single-use bags. The reusable bags may cost a bit more upfront, but they last longer and you won’t have to keep buying more indefinitely. Plus, as an added bonus, your snacks or chips won’t get crushed if they are in a tupperware container!

  1. Take Fuel-Efficient Routes (more savings during longer trips)

Google Maps has a feature that indicates the most fuel-efficient route with a green leaf symbol. By using it, you will get to your destination using as little gas as possible. In some cases the route will take a bit longer, but don’t worry, it will also show you the fastest route if you are running late!

  1. Use a Dishwasher ($130/yr)

Dishwashers use less water and energy than handwashing, with Energy Star dishwashers saving about 5,000 gallons of water each year! Plus, the time saved by not washing each individual dish by hand could be spent doing other things you enjoy. 


Even though many of these suggestions are small, your savings will add up, especially if these money-saving actions become habits. Try a few of these out and let us know how it goes in the comments! Your wallet will thank you. 

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