With global warming and other environmental concerns increasingly on the minds of Americans, you want to green your home do your part to save the planet. Here are some easy and fun (and cost-effective!) ideas to make your home more environmentally sound.
Chuck the incandescent light bulbs wherever possible. These standard tear-drop shaped bulbs burn out relatively quickly and use up lots of electricity — creating garbage and using up resources at the same time. Compact florescent light bulbs (a.k.a. CFLs) last many times longer than incandescent bulbs and use a fraction of the energy. They cost more per bulb, but money you save in energy will outweigh the price difference.
Give up on the bottled water. Sure, your Aquafina may taste slightly better than standard tap water, but the cost of bottled water to the environment cannot be underestimated. Bottled water takes energy to procure, distil, transport and package. Instead, buy a top-of-the-line sink filter or just keep a filtered water pitcher in the fridge. Not only will you protect the environment by cutting back on your consumption of plastic, but you will also save a bundle over the long-term on drinking water costs.
Recycle or give away (or sell on the cheap) your old furniture. Instead of trucking your old sofa or 1999 Sony T.V. to the dump, find your used furnishings a second home. You can use online give-away sites like Craigslist to find people in your local area who might want your furniture. You can also sell stuff on e-bay or give it away/sell it at a garage sale. Barring that, you can find an eco-friendly recycling center near you to dispose of your furniture with minimal damage to the environment.
Stock up on natural, organic products. Instead of installing a vinyl shower curtain, for instance, hang up a hemp curtain — it’s equally anti-fungal and does not release small amounts of volatile organic compounds every time you take a shower. Get rid of your harsh kitchen and bathroom cleansers and replace those nasty chemicals (which have been linked to all sorts of ailments and pregnancy-disorders) with safe compounds that won’t hurt you, your children, your pets or your environment.
Reduce your dependence on heating and air-conditioning. You can keep a temperate house without paying your local energy company an arm and a leg. Turn off the heat and air-conditioning when you leave for work for the day (or go on vacation). Use your windows and shades to adjust to the weather outside. If it’s super hot out, for instance, throw open the windows and turn on some fans. If it’s incredibly cold, pull down your shades and keep windows tightly sealed to avoid heat-leakage. You can also invest in thermally efficient windows and sealants to boost your energy efficiency.
Get a professional energy audit. You can find top rated independent energy contractors out there to come to your home and point out precisely where and how you are wasting energy. By following their tips to reduce heat waste, you will not only reduce your consumption of fuel, but you will also pad your pocketbook in the long-term.
Make it a habit to turn off electrical devices when you are not using them. Before you go to sleep at night, go around and turn off the lights, the T.V., the computer, and other appliances, which can drain energy while you sleep. Also, many electronics like DVD players and video consoles stay ‘on’ even when turned ‘off’, so they continuously consume a small amount of energy – unplug them.
Landscape in an eco-friendly manner. Put out drums to catch rain water to hydrate your plants or garden (if you live in an area that’s relatively drought-prone). Landscape with plants that are native to your region and soil type. If you try to keep tropical plants alive in an arid environment, you’ll inevitably use up an unseemly amount of water and natural resources keeping the plants healthy. You might also want to use your garden to grow organic vegetables.
Look for products and services to boost your green mission. You can find expandable foam to seal up drafts in your insulation. You can get screens to put in your windows to block out some of the solar radiation in the summer and thus help you save on air-conditioning costs. You can purchase eco-friendly power strips to reduce your energy bill and general power consumption. You can buy hemp grocery bags to transport your food (and thus save the planet from having to countenance hundreds of plastic and/or paper bags a year).
Get your family and friends into the green act. You can’t do it alone. Teach your family about the value of the environment and establish “rules of the house” to conserve resources and treat your local habitat with respect. Remember that greening your home can be a fun and educational process. Keep up to speed on the latest greening technologies by contacting local environmentally concerned groups or government agencies.
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