09/03/2014 12:58 am ET Updated Nov 02, 2014

These Energy-Saving Steps Save More Than Fuel (Think CO2 and $$$)

Saving energy makes sense any time, but particularly now, given our short supplies of oil and the pollution and climate change we create when we burn any fossil fuel.

Still, you may be among the millions of people who have not yet incorporated energy conservation into your daily routine. Why not? The number one reason for most people is money -- not necessarily real money, but definitely the perception that it will require a lot of money to put energy-saving strategies to work in your home.

I say "perception" because that's often what it is. Many consumers are under the generally false impression that adopting 'green' (i.e. energy efficient) technologies is beyond their financial reach. And especially during these hard economic times, even the suspicion that something will cost more is enough to deter its purchase.

That's why the concept of Green ROI -- return on investment -- is so important. Green ROI offers a way to calculate what the purchase of a green product is worth, both in the short term and a longer way down the road. In other words, if you spend xx $$$ on a green product today, how long will it take you to realize a gain -- in real dollars -- and make the purchase worthwhile?

Consider a few of these Green ROI calculations, courtesy of, and based on a ten-year performance period:

Programmable Thermostat -- Automatically adjust indoor air temperatures to reduce the amount of gas or electricity you use.
Cost: $115
Annual Savings: $180
ROI: 156.5%

Standby Power Reduction -- Use energy-saving power strips on office electronics and home appliances to reduce energy use.
Cost: $20 for two strips
Annual Savings: $24
ROI: 120%

Compact Fluorescent Lighting -- Replace 20 incandescent bulbs that are 60 Watts and have a life expectancy of 1,500 hours, with CFLs that only use 14 Watts and last 10,000 hours.
Cost: $3.00 - $6.00 per bulb
Annual Savings: Each bulb saves on average $4 to $7 per year in electricity
ROI: 133.3%

See how saving energy saves money -- a lot of money -- over the long-term? There's a terrific climate change benefit, too.

Take programmable thermostats. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which administers the federal ENERGY STAR program, calculates that in 2006, consumers using programmable thermostats not only saved a total of $14 billion on their utility bills; they also saved enough energy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to taking 25 million cars off the road.

Want to know how additional investments will create Green ROI? Click here.