Easy Ways to Have an Environmentally Friendly Home
Although it sounds simple, the best way to be eco-friendly is to cut down on what you consume and recycle whatever you can. According to the National Institute of Health, in U.S. we generate about 208 million tons of municipal solid waste per year. That’s more than 4 pounds of waste for each person in America per day. With that in mind, every little thing we can do to reduce our consumption and recycle will help. Did you know that recycling just one glass bottle saves enough electricity to light a 100-watt bulb for four hours?
Here are 10 other ideas to help you go green at home:
1. Replace Older Appliances with Greener Ones
EPA studies show that getting rid of or replacing that old refrigerator you’ve got in the garage could save you as much as $150 a year. Appliances make up about 18% of a typical home’s total energy bill, with the fridge being one of the biggest energy hogs. If any of your appliances is more than 10 years old, the EPA suggests replacing them with Energy Star models. Appliances qualified as Energy Star use 10%-50% less energy and water than standard models. According to the Energy Star site, if just one in 10 homes used energy-efficient appliances, it would be equivalent to planting 1.7 million new acres of trees.
Also, consider what you put in that energy-efficient refrigerator. Pesticides, transportation and packaging are all things to consider when stocking up. Buying local cuts down on the fossil fuels burned to get the food to you while organic foods are produced without potentially harmful pesticides and fertilizers.
2. Keep an Eye on the Thermostat
Heating and cooling comprise almost half of a home’s energy bills.
- The use of a programmable thermostat will help you set the temperature in your home at a lower temperature in the winter and a higher temperature in the summer while you are sleeping or at work. Each degree below 68°F during colder weather saves 3%-5% more heating energy, while keeping your thermostat at 78°F in warmer weather will also save you energy and money.
- Clean or change your furnace’s air filters regularly per the manufacturer’s instructions. This will allow for air to flow more freely and reduce the amount of energy consumed.
- If your furnace is older, consider replacing it. Today’s furnaces are about 25% more efficient than they were in the 1980s. And if replacing your furnace, don’t forget to buy Energy Star if at all possible.
- To keep your home cooler in warm weather, shade your east and west windows and delay heat-generating activities such as drying clothes or running the dishwasher until evening.
- Use ceiling fans instead of or in conjunction with air conditioners. Light clothing in summer is typically comfortable between 72°F and 78°F. But moving air feels cooler, so a slow-moving fan can easily extend the comfort range to 82°F. This will allow you to either keep the air conditioner turned off or keep it set at a higher temperature. Either way, you’re reducing your energy consumption and saving money.
3. Conserve Water
A group of Arizona cities created the website, “Water — Use it Wisely” to provide people with 100 simple ways to save water. Here are just a few here:
- Put an aerator on all household faucets and cut your annual water consumption by 50%.
- Install a low-flow toilet. They use only 1.6 gallons per flush, compared to 3.5 gallons per flush for pre-1994 models. If you have an older model, adjust your float valve to admit less water into the toilet’s tank.
There are also plenty of ways to conserve water without buying a thing. Simple changes in how we use water will also add up quickly.
- Use a broom instead of the garden hose to clean your driveway and you can save 80 gallons of water.
- Turning off the water while you brush your teeth will save 4 ½ gallons each time.
4. Use Green Cleaning Supplies
Traditional household cleaners contain chemicals that are potentially toxic to both you and the environment. There are a number of products on the market now that instead use eco-friendly ingredients that also perform effectively. These include grain alcohol instead of toxic butyl cellosolve, commonly found in carpet cleaner and some window cleaners as a solvent; coconut or other plant oils rather than petroleum in detergents; and plant-oil disinfectants such as eucalyptus, rosemary or sage rather than triclosan, an antifungal agent found in soaps and deodorant. Or, skip buying altogether and make your own cleaning products. Use simple ingredients such as plain soap, water, baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), vinegar, washing soda (sodium carbonate), lemon juice and borax and save money at the same time. Check out these books by Annie Bertold-Bond for cleaning recipes: “Clean and Green” and “Better Basics for the Home.”
5. Use Energy-Efficient Lighting
Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs (CFLs) use 66% less energy than a standard incandescent bulb and last up to 10 times longer. Replacing a 100-watt incandescent bulb with a 32-watt CFL can save $30 in energy costs over the life of the bulb. While they are a bit more expensive to buy, you more than make up the cost difference in the energy savings.
6. Use Less Paper
You can buy “tree-free” 100% post-consumer recycled paper for everything from greeting cards to toilet paper. Paper with a high post-consumer waste content uses less virgin pulp and keeps more waste paper out of landfills.
- Remove yourself from junk mail lists. Each person will receive almost 560 pieces of junk mail this year, which adds up nationally to 4.5 million tons. About 44% of all junk mail is thrown in the trash, unopened and unread, and ends up in a landfill. To stem the flow into your own home, contact the Direct Marketing Association’s Mail Preference Service at P.O. Box 643, Carmel, NY 10512, or download the online form. Opt out of credit card or insurance offers at OptOutPrescreen.com or by calling 888-567-8688, a single automated phone line maintained by the major credit bureaus. And don’t forget to recycle those pieces of junk mail that you do get.
- Buy unbleached paper. Many paper products, including some made from recycled fibers, are bleached with chlorine. The bleaching process can create harmful byproducts, including dioxins, which accumulate in our air, water and soil over time.
- Don’t opt for paper or plastic at the checkout line. Take your own reusable cloth bag.
7. Use Bamboo for Your Hardwood Flooring
If you are building or renovating a home and hardwood floors are going to be installed, Bamboo is considered an environmentally friendly flooring material due to its high yield and the relatively fast rate at which it replenishes itself. It takes just four to six years for bamboo to mature, compared to 50-100 years for typical hardwoods. Just be sure to look for sources that use formaldehyde-free glues.
8. Reduce the Amount of Plastics You Use
Each year, Americans throw away some 100 billion polyethylene plastic bags — from grocery and trash bags to those ultra-convenient sandwich bags. Unfortunately, plastics are made from petroleum — the processing and burning of which is considered one of the main contributors to global warming, according to the EPA. In addition, sending plastics to the landfill also increases greenhouse gases. Reduce, re-use and recycle your plastics for one of the best ways to combat global warming.
9. Use Healthier Paint
Conventional paints contain solvents, toxic metals and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can cause smog, ozone pollution and indoor air quality problems with negative health effects, according to the EPA. These unhealthy ingredients are released into the air while you’re painting, while the paint dries and even after the paints are completely dry. Opt instead for zero- or low-VOC paint, made by most major paint manufacturers today.
10. How Your Garden Grows…Green
First, use compost instead of synthetic fertilizers. Compost provides a full complement of soil organisms and the balance of nutrients needed to maintain the soil’s well-being without the chemicals of synthetic fertilizers. And healthy soil minimizes weeds and is key to producing healthy plants, which in turn can prevent many pest problems from developing to begin with.
- Use native plants as much as possible. Native plants have adapted over time to the local environment and support native animals. They also use less water and require less of your attention.
- Focus on perennials. Gardening with plants that live for more than one year means you don’t have to pay for new plants every year; it also saves the resources used commercially to grow annuals.
- Stop using chemical pesticides. American households use 80 million pounds of pesticides each year, according to the EPA. These toxic chemicals escape gardens and concentrate in the environment, posing threats to animals and people, especially children. A better alternative is to try a variety of organic and physical pest control methods, such as using diatomaceous earth to kill insects, pouring boiling water on weeds or using beer to bait slugs. You can find more non-chemical pest control tips at the National Audubon Society’s site.
Finally, consider using an old-fashioned push mower. The only energy expended is yours.
Read the original article at MSN Real Estate