(Photo: panorios / iStockphoto)

(Photo: panorios / iStockphoto)

All of us want to go green (or at least most of us) both at home and at the office. It doesn’t hurt that many environmentally-friendly projects can save money in the long run, by reducing energy use or waste. But many of these projects are time-consuming. If you’re dedicated to going green, you’re either going to have to clear your schedule or outsource some of the work. Luckily, many green projects are easy to outsource — and there are thousands of professionals ready to take on those projects.

  1. Energy Use Audit: An energy audit can pinpoint the ways you can make a home or office more efficient. To find a professional energy auditor in your area, call your state government’s energy department or your local utility company. (Also pay attention to what Google’s doing with personal energy info products.)
  2. Energy-Efficient Appliances: The U.S. government maintains lists of energy-efficient appliances at EnergyStar.gov, eliminating your need to search around for reviews of individual appliances.
  3. Green Tax Credits: Depending on which green projects you complete, you can be eligible for a tax credit. A tax professional can prioritize your projects for you, according to the credits you’ll qualify for — as well as handling the paperwork to claim your credits.
  4. Improve Your Home or Office: From adding insulation to installing energy-efficient windows, there are a whole list of improvements you can make to a building. Many contractors now specialize in retrofitting or remodeling buildings, so check with contractors in your area.
  5. Green Landscaping: Grass may be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about green landscaping, but it’s actually a series of techniques to create landscaping that requires minimal watering and even upkeep. Check the U.S. Green Building Council’s directory to find a landscape architect in your area.
  6. Dry Clean: Your average dry cleaner isn’t environmentally-friendly, but green dry cleaners are opening all over the country. Using such businesses to clean your clothes can be even greener than cleaning them at home.
  7. Eliminate Junk Mail: Junk mail is a huge culprit when it comes to paper waste. Tools like 41pounds.org can help you stop the majority of junk mail.
  8. Eat Green: Just as you can outsource food-related tasks like meal planning and even grocery shopping, you’ll find that there a green service providers for just about every step of your food outsourcing plan.
  9. Better Furnaces: Furnaces, as well as air conditioners, are notoriously inefficient. Either retrofitting or replacing either system is just a matter of calling in a local HVAC specialist.
  10. Tuned Engines: Maintaining your car can improve your gas mileage by as much as 40%. A tuned-engine, inflated tires and other tasks can be completed by your local mechanic. If you can set up a regular schedule — perhaps just a little more often than usual — you can keep your car at peak performance.
  11. Carpool: Instead of driving your car to work everyday, a carpool can provide a simple answer. Many employers, as well as state agencies, offer carpool matching services, as do websites like CarpoolWorld.com.
  12. New Cars: If you’re shopping for a new car, consult FuelEconomy.gov first. The site has compiled almost 25 years worth of fuel efficiency numbers and other information to guide you through the shopping process.
  13. Automatic Composting: Composting can be hard work, but there are a variety of products on the market, like the Nature Mill, which compost kitchen waste automatically.
  14. Green Your Business: There are a number of ways to make your business’ operations greener, such as improving your supply chain. There are consultants who will walk you through greening your marketing, management, and more — and many specialize in specific industries.
  15. Finance Solar Panels: In many states, there are a number of companies and organizations working to reduce the cost of solar panels (often $20,000 or more) with purchase power agreements. The company places solar panels on your roof at a minimal cost to you, and you buy your electricity from that company.
  16. Purchase Renewable Energy: Your local utility company may offer you the opportunity to purchase renewable energy, such as wind power, directly from the company without having to install any sort of solar panels or wind turbines yourself.
  17. Reduce Paper: While a truly paperless office may be impossible, you can institute policies that keep paper to a minimum and eliminate much of the paper you have on hand. Bring in someone to scan in all your files or enter them into a database. If you want to scan files yourself, then consider purchasing NeatDesk.
  18. Clean Green: If you use a cleaning service for your home or office, you can request that they make the switch to green cleaning products. It’s not even necessary for them to buy expensive cleaners: most green cleaning products are based on baking soda or vinegar.
  19. Simplified Recycling: Depending on your local trash collector, you probably have the option of curbside recycling. With a phone call or two, you can often find a company offering one-bin recycling — recycling where you put everything from newspapers to cans in the same bin and the company takes care of sorting.
  20. Green Certifications: If your business can qualify for a green certification, you can often expand your business opportunities. There are local certification programs in many cities and states, as well as national industry organizations. For instance, the U.S. Green Building Council works with green building companies.
  21. Recycling Odd Items: Rather than hunting for a recycling facility in your area that will take your waste, visit Earth911.com. The site can connect you to specialized recycling facilities for items like computers or paint.
  22. Automate Power Use: You can arrange for lights to automatically turn on or computers to power down after office hours to minimize energy use. It’s typically simplest to work with an electrician to complete such projects.
  23. Try Teleconferencing: Rather than traveling for business meetings, you can have a video conference for far less money with an online service like Skype, and you’ll reduce carbon emissions and gas use along the way.
  24. Buy Green Supplies: Whether you need to purchase supplies for your office, or a few items for home, you can typically purchase eco-friendly products (recycled, made with low emissions and other options). Your current provider may even already offer you that option. If not, you can use a standard shopping service to pick up whatever you need.
  25. Carbon Offsets: Going completely green is difficult, but you can arrange to have someone else balance out your carbon emissions by purchasing carbon credits. There are a lot of companies offering credits now, but those offered by Carbonfund.org are among the most reputable.

###