From solar-powered garden lights to patio furniture made from recycled plastics, living green at home is easier, and cheaper, than you may think.

“Living an eco-friendly lifestyle doesn’t have to cost a lot of money and it can actually save you money while saving the environment,” said Kate Dobrucki, a spokesperson for the Designs for Living Home & Garden Show.

Creative eco-friendly options start outdoors with recycled patio furniture, produced from the husks of plastic milk, juice and water bottles. The furniture looks pretty snazzy, is as strong as regular patio furniture and weathers exceptionally well, making it a great way to have an eco-friendly backyard.

Rain barrels placed below the gutters from your roof can let you save hundreds of gallons of rain water for watering your lawn rather than letting it wash over your driveway or sink into the soil near your foundation.

For things like garden lights, why bother paying to power them at all when you can let nature do it for free? Solar-powered garden lights can let you enjoy an outdoor evening on your patio without having to flip a switch.

“During the day when the sun is out, the lights collect sunlight and then in the evening you can have your garden lit up with no electricity required,” Dobrucki said.

As for in-home energy saving solutions, Dobrucki says many are actually a lot easier to do than people think.

Most modern thermostats let you turn down your heat when you’re not at home so make sure to replace yours with a programmable one to help you save energy.

Incorrectly placed insulation can make a big difference in energy costs as well, Dobrucki says, so consulting an expert to see if there are key places where you need to add more or rearrange your current insulation more efficiently can be beneficial and initial home inspections are often free.

That ancient second fridge in the basement is an energy hog as well, wasting up to $120-$150 every year in energy costs and often filled with questionable remnants of long-forgotten food. It’s a good idea to take a look at whether the scraps you’re keeping in your second fridge are truly worth running up your energy bill.

“How much of that food is freezer-burned, how long has it been sitting there and are you going to actually eat it?” Dobrucki said.

Most hydro providers across Canada have refrigerator pickup or recycling programs making it easy to get rid of your old clunker.

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