- Oh, don't tell me you broke another light bulb.
- Nope, I'm just putting in an energy efficient LED.
- But wait, aren't those more expensive?
- Yes, but going green can save you money.
- Wait, so, it costs more and saves you money?
(upbeat music) (whooshing sound) Going green, we've all heard about it, but what does it actually mean?
Simply put, it's protecting the environment from harm and conserving natural resources.
These days, there are lots of ways to do it.
You can bike instead of drive.
Eat organic, switch to solar energy and so on.
But this isn't new.
In fact, saving energy has been around for thousands of years.
- Egypt used to take old letters and use them for money wrappings to save on papyri.
British activists during the Industrial Revolution, successfully protested the construction of railways that would have ruined the land.
There are many examples throughout history of people protecting the environment, whether they realized it or not.
- And it wasn't until 1962 that the environmental movement really took off, with the release of Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring".
This book informed the world about pesticides that could cause cancer and threaten wildlife.
This led to the formation of the Environmental Protection Agency and help inspire the very first Earth Day, where 20 million people across America, protested environmental destruction.
- Since the 1970s, awareness of environmental issues has grown, along with information and resources helping people go green.
Thankfully, some ways you can reduce energy costs nothing at all, like recycling or turning off the lights when you're not using them.
But you may have also noticed that many products and solutions that help us go green cost more money than there are less environmentally friendly competitors.
What's up with that?
- Well, sometimes the product itself costs more to make, that's the case with organic food, which reduces pollution but also requires more labor to produce.
But that's not always the case with green products.
Some charge more because, well, they can.
Eco-friendly is unfortunately sometimes used as a marketing strategy to appeal to wealthier shoppers.
- But even with this increased cost upfront, going green can still save you money in the long run.
- How much exactly?
I think it's time to... - [Both] Run the numbers!
(orchestral music) - This is Sam.
She's not the most environmentally conscious person.
In fact, the thought of saving energy never even crosses her mind.
But one day Sam comes across a Ted talk that gets her really fired up to save the planet.
How much money will she save?
Let's look at some examples.
And heads up, there's a lot of numbers this time.
So, math nerds, you're welcome.
- Okay, so currently Sam uses 75 watt incandescent light bulbs for five hours a day.
She has 40 of them in her home and they cost $1 each.
If she switches all 40 of these bulbs to 11 watt LEDs which costs $5 each, she has to pay $160 more upfront.
But because LEDs use less energy, she'll save about $600 a year.
That comes out to around $50 a month.
So, in just over three months, she'll make back the initial $160 she lost, pretty sweet deal.
- Now let's see how much Sam will save by switching shower heads.
Currently, she uses one that pumps out two and a half gallons of water per minute.
If she buys a low flow shower head, it only use a gallon and a half per minute.
Let's say she takes seven minute showers for 25 days out of the month and uses an electric water heater.
With her previous shower head that comes out to 438 gallons of water compared to 263 with her new one, pretty impressive water savings.
So, it must save a lot of money too, right?
- Not exactly.
This upgrade would only save her $2 a month.
- Which isn't a lot but she could put those savings towards a good cause like, I don't know, supporting Two Cents on Patriot.
- Not now, babe.
- Okay, so, what if Sam switches to an electric car?
I mean, General Motors just announced they're switching all their cars to electric by 2035, so, why not Sam?
After all, she doesn't drive the best car for the planet, a 2010 Honda Accord.
So, if she drives the average number of miles, paying $2.50 a gallon, she'll be looking at over $1,300 a year in gas alone.
But if she buys a 2021 Nissan Leaf electric car, she'll pay just over $500 a year to charge it, that's over $800 a year in savings.
- And while some electric cars cost a fortune and can be more in insurance, a new Nissan Leaf is only around $31,000 and offers insurance rates that are comparable to many gas powered cars.
Sam could also get the federal tax incentive knocking down the price even further.
Plus, electric vehicles cost thousands less in maintenance and repairs over their lifetime.
So, she could potentially save around $300 a year on these costs alone.
- If Sam's not ready to ditch her Honda, though, she could still save money by biking to work instead of driving, and she'll get in her daily exercise too.
So, let's assume Sam is closer to work than the average American and it's 10 miles each way.
That's 100 a week or 400 miles a month, she's not driving in her car.
After factoring in operating costs and maintenance, the bike costs about $6 a month to ride to work, compared to around $53 a month if she would have driven.
That means Sam saves about $47 a month by biking to work which is over $550 a year.
So, if her bike costs her $500, she'll make that up and savings in just under a year.
And she might even get a lower insurance rate by driving less.
Some insurance companies offer 20% off or more once you get below a certain number of miles.
Others offer smaller discount or not at all, it depends on company demographics and in some cases if you're willing to put a tracker in your car.
- And if Sam really wants to go all out, she could get a solar panel.
These generate their own power from the sun reducing electricity costs by as much as 100%.
Admittedly, it's a bit pricey.
For a five kilowatt system, it could cost her $20,000, but she should be able to get a 22% federal tax incentive, knocking off nearly $4,500.
On top of that, she might qualify for local rebates and incentives.
So, now let's say we're looking at $12,000.
If the solar panels saves her $100 a month on energy, this will pay itself off in 10 years.
Then she'll have little to no energy costs for the remaining 15 years of the system's life, how cool is that?
- So as you can see, sometimes going green will save you a lot ,of money, other times, not so much.
And in some cases you'll save nothing at all.
Like if you recycle or eat organic food.
So, why do it when it's not financially beneficial to you?
- Because the truth is, the environmental situation is in critical condition.
Climate change is causing extreme weather events like the snowpocalypse we endured here in Texas a couple months ago, which could end up having a $200 billion economic impact.
Hundreds of thousands of people die from air pollution every year.
And over 500 species of land animals are on the brink of extinction because of the human destruction of nature.
- These issues affect all of us.
And while it's great that in so many cases you'll end up paying less by going green, that's not the only reason to make the change.
- Doing our part to fight climate change and protect the planet is worth doing regardless of the personal savings.