Bankrate's 2007 Living Green, Saving Green Guide
smart spending
10 major myths about living green

Myth No. 5: The cost of commuting is a fixed expense.

Not really. How would you like to get 10 percent to 50 percent more gasoline every week for free? Regular tuneups will boost your mileage 4 percent to 40 percent, says Powers. A new air filter can add as much as 10 percent to your mileage. And keeping your tires properly inflated (not over or under) can give you another 2 percent.

And that doesn't even count solutions like carpooling with a spouse, sharing a ride with a co-worker or e-commuting once or twice a week.

Fast fact:
If tap water replaced bottled water in the U.S., it would save about $8 billion and help prevent 60 million plastic bottles from being discarded each day.

Myth No. 6: Eco-friendly grocery options are expensive.

Not every green choice has to cost you extra green. Buying locally grown produce is a good example. The average food item travels 1,500 miles to 2,500 miles to get to your store shelves, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. Locally grown produce -- usually grown within 200 miles -- saves all those transportation and fuel costs, along with tons of carbon. For that reason they are often less expensive and -- because they typically get to ripen longer -- tastier, too. What's more, many smaller local growers don't use pesticides, herbicides or artificial ripening agents, keeping petrochemicals out of the soil and reducing crude-oil usage even more.

Myth No. 7: If an appliance is off, it's not using power.

Up to 10 percent of your power bill goes to run appliances that you've already turned off, says Powers. Dubbed "vampire power," it's the energy a machine keeps using so that it can pop on quickly when you flip the switch. Don't feel like plugging and unplugging every time you want to use the computer or play the stereo? Use a power strip. (Just beware of overloading too many gadgets and gizmos on the same one.) Then, when you're not using the item, flip the switch on the strip, and you'll know that "off" is really "off."

Myth No. 8: Hybrid cars are inherently better than nonhybrids.

"All hybrids are not created equal," says Pica. Some hybrid cars, like the Toyota Prius or the Honda Civic, get some of the best mileage results, but manufacturers now offer SUVs and trucks that use hybrid technology. And the mileage on those often is not much better than the nonhybrid version of the same vehicle, says Pica. In fact, in a lot of cases, a nonhybrid car might actually use less gas and produce less pollution. So look at the gas mileage as well as the technology.

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