Making big changes to your home, such as installing solar panels or investing in a tankless water heater, will obviously save yourself some cash and help the planet, but reducing your carbon footprint doesn’t have to break the bank. Here are a few low-cost and low-stress steps to make your home a greener place to live.
Up the Wattage
If you still use incandescent bulbs on multiple light fixtures in a room, consolidate! On fixtures that use multiple bulbs, try using one 100-wattt bulb instead of two 60-watt bulbs. Not only does one 100-watt bulb emit more light but requires 17 percent less power. Just check that your bulbs don’t exceed the maximum wattage recommendations on light fixtures.
Is Your Refrigerator Running?
Take your fridge’s temperature by sticking an appliance thermometer in a glass of water in the center of the fridge overnight. The temp in your fridge should be 37-40° F and your freezer should be 0-5° F. If either reads to cold, adjust the setting until you reach the recommended temp. Keeping your fridge or freezer 10° colder than necessary can eat up 25 percent of your unit’s energy consumption.
Load the Dishwasher
Washing a load of dishes by hand not only requires more elbow grease and time but also uses more water than your dishwasher. If you have an Energy Star dishwasher, this is especially true as they only four gallons of water per load on average. Washing the same amount of dishes by hand uses 6 times the amount of water, approximately 24 gallons. Using your dishwasher will save you countless hours and approximately 5,000 gallons of water each year.
Test Your Shower Pressure
Place a 1-gallon bucket under your showerhead and see how long it takes for it to fill up. If it fills in less than 20 seconds, head to the hardware store for a showerhead that sprays 1.5 gallons per minute. You could reduce your shower water consumption by as much as 14,600 gallons a year – even more if you limit shower time to less than 10 minutes.
Let There Be Light
Use the sun to your advantage by opening blinds or drapes to let in natural solar heat on cooler days and close them once the sun sets. This can reduce your heating bills by 10 percent during the cooler months. Window treatments used to block sunlight can reduce cooling costs by up to 33 percent when you would otherwise be running the A/C.
Fix That Leak
Does your kitchen faucet constantly drip? Not only is it a daily annoyance, but it’s likely also contributing more to your water consumption than you think. A dripping faucet can waste up to 74 gallons a day, which amounts to approximately $15 on your water bill each year. Toilets are also prone to leak up to a gallon of water per minute. Pour food coloring into your toilet’s tank, wait two hours, then check to see if any of the coloring has leaked into the bowl. If so, head to the hardware store for a replacement flapper.