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Home > Getting Started. Make A Plan  

Getting Started: Make a Plan

make a plan
We know that you probably already do things that are considered green. If you are relatively new or looking for more ways to go green we suggest you make a plan. The following are possible steps to take when making a plan.


Step 1: Relax.

The hard part is over. You have decided to live a little greener (more efficient) life. The planet is not going to explode if you don't do everything you can to go green today. Take your time, read up on how to do it. While reading and researching, try to figure out what is right for you (or your business). The rest will come naturally. So take a breath and get started on your journey.

Step 2: Evaluate your current situation.

We at Greencompletely.com believe that a good plan is a great start to having a more efficient lifestyle. We also believe that you should know your current situation to help you set priorities for the plan. 
      Gather your utility, garbage, water, sewer, natural gas and any other type of monthly bill to see what you are currently paying. You will want to put these figures onto paper or in a spreadsheet. Your taxes may be another thing to put onto paper or this spreadsheet because there are tax breaks for going green.
    Begin researching how to save money on your bills in the topic areas discussed in our Resource Conservation area or pick some of your own to research.
Next, comes math. Scary? We help you every step of the way. Don't Worry! Greencompletely.com provides "green savings calculators" to compare your current situation to potential green alternatives.  We will be developing more calculators, so keep checking.
     That "math" that we encourage you to do is to determine your "return on investment" and ultimately the feasibility of anything you wish to change in your life (or business). Don't worry, as you start, you will see how easy we make it.
     We will also give you tools to measure the performance of the things you currently have.

Step 3: Find help.

In order to determine your "return on investment" and ultimately the feasibility of any part of your green plan, you should find the rebates, tax breaks and "giveaways" that local companies and the government makes available to you. A great place to start is in our "Tax Breaks and Rebates" section.  This help may mean the difference between feasible and unfeasible things to do in your green plan. Remember, there are all kinds of programs available (not just your utility company). Almost every resource you use or throw away may have some kind of program (water, waste, gas and so on).

Step 4: Regulations and permitting.

Some ideas on how to go green are great. However, if the ordinances in your city do not allow for certain things you should know that before you put certain elements into your plan.
     Also, many rebate programs have certain requirements as to what you buy and how it is installed. This may affect your feasibility calculation.  
In other words, we suggest you know what you legally can and can't do on your path to going green. Many cities have websites with ordinances on them. If you still can not find the information a local contractor may be able to help. 

Step 5: Formulate the plan and set priorities.

This may appear to be complicated but we will give the tools to make it easy. You can start by making only one change every week or two so that other family members (or employees) get used to doing things differently.
     Start Free: This the lowest "fruit" on the green tree.
     Track your savings: From the moment you start a green plan you are saving money. By tracking your savings, you can easily see your progress.
Prioritize changes you pay for: Knowing the "return on investment" for each change you want to make can help you determine the priority of the changes you choose.
     Plan your work and work your plan:  You will need to keep evaluating the plan as time goes on, a better alternative may become available.

Step 6: Start free.

There are many web sites (including ours) that have free green tips.  Taking cost free steps is a great way to start your plan. This helps build savings to use for the other parts of your green plan that may cost some money.  Utilize giveaways to make changes as well. This will help you evaluate changes while saving money for your plan. If you determine the item is not suitable for your needs you may have saved enough to buy an alternative that is better for your needs.

Step 7: Track your savings.

Many green programs fail because the people involved do not see the savings benefit, but only see the cost to the family (or business). Why?
     Because utility bills tend to vary from month to month, it can be difficult to concretely see the effect of the green changes being made.  Utility rate changes and other factors can also make it hard to see the changes.  Our comparison calculators give you a tool to calculate your savings from each change that you implement.  This allows you to keep a running estimate of your total savings. 
That is why we say track your savings and trust what you track.  Each change you make may be lost in the variation of the bills. Assume that you are saving the amount that you have calculated, and trust that in 6 months or a year, the changes will be noticeable to every one.
     We say "trust" but you should also verify. For some green items, you can measure their performance yourself to verify you are getting the savings you expected.
     A year after you start the plan you can look back and see how much you've accomplished.

Step 8: Prioritize changes you pay for.

In Step 2, you determined pricing, rebates and return on investment (ROI) for the potential items in your green plan. What do you do first?
     It would be easy for us to say, "do the cheapest and fastest ROI items first".  However, what we recommend is that you determine the feasibility of each potential change and use that to help you prioritize your plan.
     First - Feasibility saddle point. Estimate the life expectancy of the item. If your ROI is less than the life expectancy than the proposed change is feasible. However, we recommend targeting changes which have an ROI less than half the product life expectancy.  This allows a cushion so if the item fails sooner than expected or there are extra maintenance issues the savings should still cover your cost. You can place this feasibility "saddle point" anywhere you want (for example 75% instead of the 50% we recommend) but it should be based on the item's ROI and the life expectancy of the item.
When feasibility has been determined you can set priority. There are two basic methods of setting priority. Either way will generally insure success. They are ROI ratio and cheapest first.
      ROI ratio: ROI is the time it takes to save the amount the item cost. Simply divide ROI by life expectancy and you have ROI ratio. The smallest ratio is the highest priority item to change.
     Cheapest First: This method provides advantage in that if the item does not work you (or your business) is not out of a lot of money. The disadvantage is that your ROI may be a long time. Your "green plan" may take a while to implement.

      A more precise way of calculating priority might be to order all the changes by ROI time, then cheapest then by ratio. 
     We would also like to suggest that your entire green plan savings should be factored into your ROI as the plan progresses.

Step 9: Plan your work and work your plan.

Realize that not every change implemented may be right for your home (or business). Take the time to understand why parts of your plan are working and why parts may not be working. The changes could require some extra training to work. However, the change might not work at all for your situation. It is helpful to realize that sooner than later.

Step 10: Repeat Steps 1 through 9.

In this ever changing world in which we live in, technology advances. Ideas change. Things that were unavailable become available. New efficiencies are created and new money comes. Feasibility also changes. This is particularly true in the green industry. If you have taken the time to make a plan the way we suggest it will be an easy matter to re-evaluate it every 1-3 years.


You may also want to use other reading material to plan your steps.  Visit our Amazon Store Book Corner for more ideas.