Bills.com Presents 5 Ways to Save Money, Save the Planet

Green trend can keep green in wallets

SAN MATEO, Calif., April 30, 2008 - As a spirit of environmental awareness sweeps the nation, many Americans are finding that their "green" actions have the unexpected benefit of financial savings -- and in this age of skyrocketing expenses, Andrew Housser, co-founder and co-CEO of Bills.com, has five simple ways to save money and help save the planet.

"When you take a look at your lifestyle, you can probably find a few places where being kinder to the environment will also be an act of generosity to your bank account," Housser said.

Housser suggested these five starting points:

  1. Clean up the commute. If you drive alone to work every day, your vehicle is chugging out pollutants as well as burning up money as the cost of gas keeps on climbing. Consider walking, biking, carpooling or taking public transit to work -- even one day a week will make a difference. An average midsize car on a 10-mile roundtrip commute emits nearly 8 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, at a price of about $1.45 per trip in gas alone. Eliminating the drive one day per week will save 400 pounds of carbon and $72.50 per year.
  2. Make laundry practices sparkle. Modern laundry machines are a huge convenience, no doubt about it. But with power to run them and to heat water, they can use copious amounts of energy. Try using no more than what you need. Washing clothes in cold water can save up to 90 percent of the energy in the washing machine cycle. Then, hang as many clothes to dry as possible, either indoors or out. You will eliminate carbon emissions, increase the life of your garments and save money -- up to $116 per year by avoiding the dryer for five laundry loads per week. Washing in cold and line- or rack-drying half your laundry together will eliminate 795 pounds of carbon.
  3. Bring a bag. Today, more and more grocery stores are beginning to avoid plastic bags, with some giving customers a small refund for bringing a bag. Some charge a small fee for customers to purchase a bag -- and that trend is likely to grow. The plastic used to manufacture bags comes from petroleum, and producing the bags creates carbon emissions. Bringing a bag reduces pollution and littering. As an added bonus, most reusable bags are sturdier and easier to carry than plastic ones. By saving (or not paying) 5 cents per bag on a weekly shopping trip, a household can save $12 a year and avoid putting 240 plastic bags into the environment.
  4. Control the climate less. Turn the thermostat up a few degrees in the summer and down a few degrees in the winter. A rule of thumb is that every degree you move your thermostat up in the summer or down in the winter saves 3 percent on the energy bill. On an annual heating and cooling bill of $1,000 (about average), moving the thermostat three degrees could save $100 per year and avoid nearly 1,300 pounds of carbon emissions.
  5. Change a light bulb. The new compact fluorescent bulbs do not buzz or flicker, and they come in an array of lighting hues. Some, but not all bulbs, take a second to light, and some are appropriate for fixtures with dimmer switches. They cost more to purchase -- about $3 to $7 compared to $2 for an incandescent bulb -- but last up to seven years. Replacing three bulbs in frequently used areas with CFLs can save $60 per year and eliminate 300 pounds of carbon.

"If you take all five of these simple actions, you will eliminate 3,000 pounds of carbon emissions and save more than $350," Housser said. "Now that is making a change -- that will save you some change."

Based in San Mateo, Calif., Bills.com is a free one-stop portal where consumers can educate themselves about complex personal finance issues and comparison shop for products and services including credit cards, debt relief assistance, insurance, mortgages and other loans. The company blogs about consumer finance issues at /blog. Since 2002, Bills.com has served more than 40,000 customers nationwide while managing more than $1 billion in consumer debt. Bills.com is the online portal to Freedom Financial Network, LLC, whose co-founders and CEOs, Andrew Housser and Brad Stroh, have been named Northern California finalists in Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur of the Year Awards.

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