Scouring Craigslist for vintage hand-me-downs is an eco-friendly option when it comes to clothes, toys, and bicycles, and helps keep money in the bank for other projects. But being green can also be a bit costly in the short-run, such as when it comes to upgrading to energy-efficient products. The biggest bang for your greenback? Trading in a pre-2004 refrigerator for a new one.
"We have to disregard the advice of our parents and grandparents who loved to say, ‘If it isn't broken, don't fix it,'" Ekwurzel said. Today's refrigerators are 70 percent more efficient than those made in 2003, she said. And next to driving, the energy used at home has the biggest impact on your carbon footprint, she said. If you haven't already, it's also time to upgrade to a programmable thermostat and LED or compact fluorescent light bulbs, and schedule that energy audit.
Bonus: These upgrades translate into saved money over time as well as energy.