Innovations in solar energy and wind turbines may have brought environmental changes on a global scale, but at a more personal level, it’s the Internet that has made us more ecologically responsible. The biggest savings are on transportation costs as you no longer have to drive to the bank, post office or the electricity department for sundry work and payments. Just a few clicks of the mouse and you can save fuel and paperwork. Whether it is to book flight or movie tickets, transfer funds, pay bills or file taxes, online is the green option. In fact, most banks discourage physical payments. For instance, if you pay your credit card bill via cash at a bank branch, you have to pay Rs 100 extra. Add to this the parking and fuel cost, and you’ll probably end up paying about Rs 200 to pay just one bill.
Reduce paper usage
If you’re a tree-hugger, digitising all your documents should be at the top of your list of tasks. Many portals now offer to store digital versions of your documents, which can be accessed by anyone from anywhere, saving you the cost of buying and printing reams of paper. You can make changes to the files offline and this can be synched automatically when you log on to the Net. You can use services like Google Docs (docs.google.com), DropBox (dropbox.com) and Windows Live SkyDrive (explore.live.com/skydrive). The latter lets you store up to 25 GB of data for free, while DropBox provides a free account of 2 GB, which can be upgraded to 50 GB for $9.99 (Rs 560) a month. Kleeto (kleeto.in) is an Indian company, which allows you to store 15 physical documents for a basic subscription charge of Rs 200 a year. The company collects the files from you and uploads the scanned versions that you can access. Whenever you need the original documents, they can send them to you within two to three days. You can store your medical history on Yostechnologies.com and MyHealthRecords.in, which let you upload scanned paperwork. This lets you access the information any time and avoids wastage of money on duplicate tests in case you misplace a report.
The app advantage
Every month, hundreds of free apps flood your mobile phone, promising to make your life more convenient and help reduce costs. For instance, price comparison apps let you pick the best deal. One of these is Check Price India on Android, which helps you compare prices of various gadgets across online retailers. A few travel apps, such as Kayak Flight and Hotel Search and Booking.com, let you compare flight and hotel deals. The former also allows you to check baggage fees and access airline numbers.
If you send text messages frequently, download free SMS apps like Free SMS India, Jaxtr SMS and Whozzat. These apps allow you to use your regular GPRS connection to send messages to any phone across the country.
Another useful app to install is an ATM locater, which will list the ATM closest to you. This saves time looking for one and lets you know whether your bank’s ATM is close by, so that you don’t need to shell out extra for using another bank’s machine.
Other apps help organise your paperwork and make good use of offers, such as Warrantify. This app allows you to scan your receipts and warranties and store them on the cloud. You can add information about the model, price and warranty validity. The app will keep track of the warranty period and notify you when the expiry date approaches.
Recycling is the way
You may be a conscious user when it comes to buying or using gadgets, but how do you dispose of them? Rather than letting them collect dust, you can sell your old products on websites, such as ebay.in, olx.in and quikr.com. Before doing this, you should conduct research to figure out the price at which similar products are being sold. Then open an account on any of these sites and put up photos of your product from every angle. If this seems like too much of work, you can approach companies that will be more than willing to buy your old gizmos. For instance, at Attero (atterobay.com), you can check the valuation of your old mobile phone. If you are willing to sell it to the company, it will collect your phone and send you a cheque within seven days.
Gadgets to the rescue
Companies are smart to cash in on the ecological wave and are busy selling gadgets that boast a green USP. Recently, Godrej launched air conditioners with ‘green balance technology’, which claim to consume only 1,325 watts an hour and help you save 23% in power consumption compared with other five star ACs, and 11% more than other inverter ACs. The 1.5 ton AC costs Rs 45,000, which is almost Rs 10,000 more than the average price for its range, but if claims are true, you should be able to recover the cost within one season. A good way to reduce power consumption is to check the BEE star rating of the appliances you buy.
If you’re particular about water conservation, opt for front loading washing machines which consume less water and electricity than top loaders. There are other simple measures that can help reduce cost, such as buying rechargeable batteries rather than conventional cells, and ensuring that gadgets are switched off so that they do not consume electricity on standby.