How going green at home can help you save money

How going green at home can help you save money

Turning your home into a more environmentally friendly household has a range of benefits not only for your health and the environment, but also for your wallet.

Whether you’re a long time greenie, or if you’re looking to dip your toe into the eco-friendly world, adopting one or more of the following tips is easier than you think.

RateCity have compiled a list of green tips designed to save you money:

  1. DIY cleaning products

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It’s no secret that supermarket cleaning materials contain a range of chemicals that would be better to avoid. If you don’t want to start forking out the extra cash for branded eco-products, there are a wide range of (mum-approved) items already in your kitchen that you can use instead.

Product

Use

Baking soda

Abrasive product so great for scrubbing hard to get grime

Tea tree oil

Kills mould

Lemon juice

General cleaning (and smells great)

White vinegar

Dissolves dirt and is a natural deodoriser

Rubbing alcohol

Window and glass cleaner

  1. Energy efficient lightbulbs

This is a well-known environmentally friendly option that helps you cut down on pesky electricity bills. There’s no reason not to switch out the bulbs in at least one room for energy efficient ones.

  1. Grow houseplants

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Having a few houseplants in your home will not only improve the air quality and your overall wellbeing, but there are plenty of garage and plant sales on every weekend, so you don’t have to fork out more money at flower shops.

You don’t need to have a green thumb to grow and appreciate houseplants. Here is a handy list of the easiest indoor plants to keep alive:

  • Aloe vera
  • English ivy
  • Jade plant
  • Rubber tree
  • Pothos plant
  • Dieffenbachia
  • Spider plant
  • Fiddle leaf fig tree
  • Snake plant

If you have small children or pets, always double check the safety of any plants you buy in case of accidental ingestion.

  1. Recycled toilet paper

Buying recycled toilet paper usually costs less and also gives you that feel-good feeling by being eco-friendly. Companies such as Who Gives a Crap offer free shipping on most orders, make all their products without trees and 50 per cent of profits are donated to help build toilets for those in need. To date, they’ve donated over $1,250,000 to charity.

  1. Be more efficient with your washing

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There are a range of ways to save on your energy bill with your washing machine:

  • Using a cold water setting on your washing machine is a more eco-friendly option as it uses less energy. If you’re washing non-whites especially there’s little to no difference in the quality of the washing.
  • Washing a full load is a no brainer, as it saves on water waste and uses less energy than multiple, half full loads.
  • Front loader washing machines traditionally use less water and require less detergent compared to top loaders.
  • Eco-friendly washes are your friend. Modern day washing machines usually include energy saving wash modes, such as fast washes for less dirty items.
  1. Solar power

RateCity recently reported on the benefits of solar power, noting that electricity emissions make up a third of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions. Switching to solar energy can majorly help you to reduce your carbon footprint, and there are “rebates” of sorts that you can take advantage of to cut down the cost of installation.

For example, RateCity calculated that for someone living in NSW currently paying 25c per kWh on their energy bill, by installing a 3kW system with an up-front cost of $6,000:

  • In one year they will have saved approximately $573
  • They would make back the money spent on solar panel installation in 9 years
  • In 30 years they will have saved approximately $48,666
  1. Eco-friendly fuel efficient cars

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If you’re in the market for a new or used car, it’s worth researching more fuel efficient and eco-friendly models.  

Cars.com.au listed the following as the most eco-friendly cars in 2016:

  • 2016 Toyota Prius c
  • 2016 Nissan Versa Note
  • 2016 BMW X3
  • 2016 For Fusion Hybrid
  • 2016 Lexus CT 200h
  • 2016 Mazda CX-5
  • 2016 Mazda Mazda3
  • 2016 Toyota Avalon Hybrid

For you wallet’s sake, it’s crucial you research and compare car loans before taking one out. Use RateCity’s comparison tools and calculators to help find the most competitive option for your financial and eco-friendly needs.

  1. Beeswax food wraps

Looking to cut out your consumption of plastics? Food wraps and zip-lock bags are one of those little ways in which we’re often struggling to find a non-plastic alternative.

That’s where beeswax food wraps come in. There are a range of reusable, Australian made products out there, such as Bee Green Wraps, that are not only versatile, mouldable, strong and water resistant, but they’re reusable, lasting up to a year.

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Learn more about savings accounts

Can you set up direct debits from a savings account?

It’s not usually possible to set up a direct debit from your savings account to cover ongoing expenses or bills, as savings accounts are structured around growing your wealth by earning interest on regular deposits, and discouraging withdrawals.

Some transaction accounts allow you to set up direct debits and also earn interest, though you may not enjoy as much flexibility as a dedicated transaction account, or get as high an interest rate as a dedicated savings account.

How do I open a savings account?

Opening a savings account is a relatively simple process. If you’ve found an account with a suitable interest rate, you’ll just need to get in contact with your chosen lender via a branch, phone call or hop online to begin the process. 

You may be required to provide:

  • Personal details, including identification (driver’s license, passport etc.)
  • Tax file number
  • Employment details

How much money should I have in my savings account?

A good rule of thumb when working out a minimum balance for your savings account is to make sure that you’ll earn more in annual interest on your savings than what you’ll be charged in annual fees.

If you’re saving with a specific goal in mind, prepare a budget so the interest you earn on your deposits will help you efficiently reach this goal. Online financial calculators may be helpful here.

How to open a savings account for my child?

Some banks and financial institutions allow parents to open a bank account for their child as soon as it is born, and start depositing funds to go towards the child’s future.

Children’s savings accounts generally don’t have fees, and are structured to help develop positive financial habits by limiting withdrawals, encouraging regular deposits, and earning interest on the savings, similarly to standard savings accounts.

Who has the highest interest rates for savings accounts?

As banks frequently change their rates, the most accurate way to know who currently has the highest interest rate is to use a savings account comparison tool.

How does interest work on savings accounts?

The type of interest savings accounts accrues is called compound interest. Compound interest is interest paid on the initial deposit amount, as well as the accumulated interest on money you have. This is different from simple interest where interest is paid at the end of a specified term. Compound interest allows you to earn interest on interest at a higher frequency. 

Example: John deposits $10,000 into a savings account with an interest rate of 5 per cent that he leaves untouched for 10 years. At the end of the first year he will have $10,512 in savings. After ten years, he will have saved $16,470.

What is the interest rate on savings accounts?

As banks frequently change their rates, the most accurate way to look at interest rates on savings accounts is to use a savings accounts comparison tool. When you look at the savings rate check what the maximum and minimum rates are. Often banks will offer you a promotional rate for the first few months which is competitive, but then revert back to a base rate which can sometimes be less than inflation. Ongoing bonus rates are often a safer bet as they will keep rewarding you with the maximum rate, provided you meet their criteria

What is a savings account?

A savings account is a type of bank account in which you earn interest on the money you deposit. This makes it one of the easiest and safest investment tools.

Can I overdraft my savings account?

A lot of savings accounts won’t let you overdraw. Some will allow this feature but you’ll need to apply first. It’s best to read the fine print and check with your lender whether this is a feature they offer. It can be a helpful addition, but as your lender can charge you a fee as well as interest for going into negative numbers, it’s best to avoid overdrafting when possible.

Can you direct deposit to a savings account?

Yes. You can make one off payments or set up regular direct deposits into a savings account. This can be organised easily through online banking or by making deposits in a branch. Talk to your lender to find out the easiest way for you to set up direct deposits.

Can you have a joint savings account?

Yes. Joint savings accounts can be useful for two or more people wanting to combine their savings to meet shared financial goals, including spouses, flatmates and business partners.

Some joint savings accounts require all parties to sign before they can access the money. While less convenient, this extra security can help encourage all parties to meet their shared financial goals.

Other joint savings accounts allow any of the account holders to access the money. These accounts can be convenient for financially responsible couples that trust one another implicitly. 

What is a good interest rate for a savings account?

A good rule of thumb to keep in mind with savings accounts is to look for a rate that is higher than the CPI inflation rate. This number is constantly changing, so check the Reserve Bank of Australia’s page. If you aren’t earning interest above this then the value of your money will go backwards over time.

How to make money with a savings account?

Savings accounts make you money by earning interest on your savings. The more money you deposit, the longer you leave it in the account, and the higher the account’s interest rate, the more interest you’ll be paid by the bank or financial institution, and the more your wealth will grow.

To make sure your savings account makes money and doesn’t lose money, it’s important to maintain a large enough minimum balance that the annual interest earned exceeds any annual fees charged on the account.

Can you set up a savings account online?

Yes. Several large and small banks offer online applications for savings accounts, and there are also online-only financial institutions to consider.

Online-only savings accounts are often less expensive than other savings accounts, though they may not offer the same flexibility, features, or face-to-face service as more traditional savings accounts.