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Conserving and saving some money

Wednesday is Earth Day. What better way to celebrate going green than saving money?

Recycle your old electronics for cash. You can trade in all manner of things (computers, routers, earbuds, game consoles) sold on at the site and get an Amazon gift card in return.

You can also exchange your old cellphone, tablet or mp3 player for cash at an Eco ATM machine. There are machines at Walden Galleria, BoulevardMall, Eastern Hills Mall and McKinley Mall. Or go to, get a quote for whatever electronics you’re going to exchange, drop them off at a Target store and get paid in store credit.

Line dry. You can do this indoors year-round and, now that the weather is getting nicer, tack up a clothesline outside. I don’t know about you, but hanging sheets on the line brings back awesome memories of my childhood summers, and there is no fabric softener that smells as good as fresh air.

Be a Sunday driver. Compared to saving on water and electricity, the amount of money you’ll save on gasoline by driving conservatively adds up quickly.

Coast to red lights, don’t accelerate when driving uphill, use cruise control on long stretches of highway and clean out your trunk so your car has less to haul. Drive the speed limit, but stay in the right lane so people driving faster can pass you. Also, make fuel efficiency a big priority next time you buy a car.

Get a home energy audit. Most homeowners in New York State are eligible for a free home energy assessment. A trained contractor will visit your home and determine where resources are being wasted and what kinds of improvements you can make to save energy. You’ll even get a list showing which improvements will reap you the greatest financial rewards.

We got one when we first moved into our house. It was a great help in prioritizing which upgrades to make first, and we’re still working our way down the list. To apply or find a contractor, visit

Insulate. Western New York has lots of lovely, old homes – many of which are poorly insulated. That, and our cold winters, make for high heating and cooling bills. Insulate your walls and attic, and weatherproof windows, cracks and vents. A home energy audit can tell you exactly where your drafts and leaks are coming from.

Unplug phantom appliances. These are “sleeping” electronics that suck energy when plugged in, even when turned off. Things like your computer, phone chargers, washing machine and anything with a digital display (like a coffee maker) or a remote (like a DVD player). Phantom appliances can account for as much as 10 percent of a family’s electric bills.

Consider plugging grouped electronics (computers with scanners, printers, and speakers, for example) into a surge strip, where you can switch them all off at once. The surge protector will still draw about 1.05 watts, though, so you may want to just unplug the whole thing.

Set-top boxes with DVR are the biggest offenders, pulling as much as 44 watts of power even when they’re turned off. Just know that if your DVR is set to record something, it won’t work if it’s unplugged.

Bring a canteen. Instead of buying bottled water, get a reusable water bottle and refill it. Disposable bottles drain fossil fuels, leech toxins and the water inside is the same (or worse) than tap water.