Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Today we’re seeing in shades of green; green homes, that is. Though green living seems expensive and time-consuming, you don’t have to install solar panels or starting growing your own produce to become an energy-conscious household. You can easily reduce your carbon footprint, while minimizing your utility bills with these ten cost-efficient and painless steps.
Go for Green Clean
While we all know the “clean” scent of bleach, there are several other ways to get your home spick and span without using harsh smelling or corrosive cleaning materials. Switching out the items in your cleaning arsenal that contain phosphorous, ammonia and/or nitrogen can help promote a healthier home and better air quality.
Even better, going green with cleaning items doesn’t mean breaking the bank. You can purchase store-bought green cleaners or use common items around your home, like vinegar, lemon juice and even olive oil.
Whether you’re an avid vegetable gardener come summertime or you want to give your perennials an all-natural boost, composting is the way to go. Mulching with compost stabilizes pH levels in the soil, slowly releases nutrients over time, makes soil easier to work with and makes soil less likely to erode.
Check out our tutorial for making a one-step compost bin for less than $15!
Up Your Wattage
If you still use incandescent bulbs on multiple light fixtures in a room, it’s time to consolidate! On fixtures that use multiple bulbs, try using one 100-watt bulb instead of two 6-watt bulbs. Not only does on 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 your light fixtures.
Better yet, switching to CFL bulbs (compact fluorescent) is a quick and easy way to save energy and money. CFL’s consumer approximately 75 percent less electricity and last up to 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs, according to Better Homes and Garden.
Switch to Digital
If you’re still living in the dial-age when it comes to your thermostat, investing in a digital model will save you majorly in the long run. Even digital thermostats have come a long way. For instance, we recommended The Nest Thermostat in our 2016 Smart Home Holiday Guide, because it not only boasts up to 20% of energy savings in your first year of installation, it adjusts itself when you’re away, learns your temperature preferences and tells you what steps to take to save energy.
Dispose of Electronics Properly
That old box TV, desktop computer, or cell phone shouldn’t be sent to the landfill. According to the U.S. Environment Protection Agency, Americans disposed of 2.4 million tons of electronics in 2009…and only 25 percent was collected for recycling.
Not only is improper disposal of electronic harmful to the air, water and other natural resources, but it’s a huge waste of precious materials. For instance, for every million cell phones recycled, we recover 35 thousand pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver and 75 pounds of gold. To find out how and where to recycle your electronics by state, visit the National Conference of State Legislatures website.
Fix That Drip
A small drip in your kitchen faucet is more than a daily annoyance – it could be wasting up to 74 gallons of water per day and tacking on an extra $15 to your yearly water bill.
Another sneaky place that commonly has water leakage is your toilet, up to a gallon per minute to be exact. To check yours, 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.
Use the Cheapest & Most Environmentally-Friendly Light Source
AKA: the sun! Open blinds and 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.
Use Your Appliances Efficiently
This one is a broad task, because a large amount of homeowners are misusing features of their appliances. To cut down on energy and water usage:
- Make sure your fridge setting is between 37-40 degrees Fahrenheit. Your freezer should be between 0-5 degrees. Keeping either of these appliances 10 degrees colder than necessary can eat up 25% of your unit’s energy consumption.
- Use your microwave on a more regular basis – it uses 50% less energy than a conventional oven.
- Only run your dishwasher with a full load and don’t waste water by pre-rinsing. Most new models don’t require it.
- Only use your washer for full loads of laundry. Separate wash loads into light and heavy fabrics to optimize dry times. For more savings, air-dry your lightest fabrics.
Be Water Conscious
If your showerhead can fill a 1-gallon bucket in less than 20 seconds, you should switch out the fixture to a low-flow head. According to This Old House, a replacement fixture that sprays 1.5 gallons per minute could save you nearly 15,000 gallons of water a year and therefore up to $22 annually on your water bill and $150 per year on water heating.
Speaking of water heaters, although manufacturers set water heater thermostats at 140 degrees, the common household only needs a set temperature of 120 degrees, according to The U.S. Department of Energy. A water heater that is set too high can result in energy loss and nearly $500 in wasted energy costs per year.
Water Your Landscape Wisely
When it comes to giving your lawn or garden a drink, do so in the early morning or evening when it’s cooler and water evaporates at a slower pace. For even more water savings, make your own rain barrel. Here’s our DIY tutorial.
Going green at home doesn’t mean you have to break the bank. Small investments in your home will give you back energy and water savings over time, as well as reduce your carbon footprint and make your home a healthier place to live.
For more home energy efficient ideas, follow us on Pinterest! Interested in taking on some bigger home renovations and home improvements? Download our free Rehab & Construction Guide for ways to incorporate the costs of your projects into your mortgage.