Want to save the environment, but can’t afford to make drastic eco-friendly improvements to your home? Don’t worry. There are plenty of easy and affordable ways to go green at home and stay within your budget.
Here are some green living tips for doing environmentally friendly home makeovers on a tight budget:
Start with a home energy audit. The auditor should make a complete inventory of all your household appliances that use electricity and/or water. An energy audit is a good way to determine how efficient (or inefficient) your appliances are, and whether your home heating and cooling system is running efficiently.
Change your lights
If making your home more eco-friendly seems overwhelming, start small – with light bulbs. Replace your incandescent light bulbs with more efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). These bulbs are more expensive initially but they use one-third of the energy needed by standard bulbs and last for five years.
To save energy and money in the long-run, install a programmable thermostat. You can set it to turn off when you are away from the house and to turn on about 30 minutes before you’ll be home again. This way, you are not unnecessarily heating your home in the winter or cooling your home in the summer. Even when you are home, be sure to take advantage of good weather by opening windows for fresh air and natural light.
Water, water everywhere
Some modern, multi-headed shower systems spew out water at the incredibly wasteful rate of 80 gallons per minute (gpm). Buy a water saving showerhead that emits water at a rate of 1.75 gpm instead. You will save thousands of gallons a year. Consider installing a water-saving faucet for your sinks, as well.
Other suggestions to save water:
- Don’t run the water while brushing your teeth or shaving
- Cut shower time to five minutes max
- Fix leaks right away
- Only run full loads in your washing machine and dishwasher
In the Bathroom
Switching to a composting toilet, which turns human waste into natural fertilizer, is a pretty major step for most people. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of other things you can do in the bathroom to go green. Only use your toilet for its intended purpose, not as a garbage disposal. You can also switch to recycled, processed-chlorine free toilet paper, organic cotton bath linens and a PVC-free shower curtain.
In the Kitchen
There are some simple swaps that can be made in the kitchen to even further reduce your carbon footprint.
- Swap paper towels for cloth. Stock up on super-absorbent, fast drying cloths that can be tossed in the laundry to be re-used.
- Swap plastic baggies for reusable cloth sacks. With all the cool designs now available, there is no reason to still be using zip-top bags.
- Swap store-bought cleaners for home-made or natural cleaners. With a few simple ingredients, you can make your own cleaners.
- Swap bottled water for filtered water. Buy a faucet or pitcher filter to save money in the long run and help reduce waste.
Instead of drowning your lawn in a sea of dangerous pesticides and chemicals, make your own bug and weed repellent from hot peppers and water. Don’t feel obliged to constantly mow your yard. A “high mow” with a push mower gives grass the chance to grow sufficiently to deny shade to weeds, and hopefully, kill them.
Also consider turning kitchen scraps into fertilizer for your garden by composting. Start a compost bin where you can collect scraps such as banana peels, coffee grounds, and egg shells. Add leaves and other waste and churn regularly to create a mix that will fertilize your garden.
Increase Energy Efficiency
Here are a few other simple suggestions to increase your energy efficiency around the home
- Caulk all your windows and add weather stripping to exterior doors. Even a tiny gap can allow a significant amount of air in and out of your home.
- Buy energy-efficient appliances. Consider appliances with the Energy Star label to save the most money and energy. But even if you’re not in the market for large appliances, whenever you need to replace a smaller appliance such as a toaster or hairdryer, make sure to find an energy-saving brand.
- Have an efficient recycling system that everyone in your family can use.
- To keep electronic devices from sucking energy even when turned off, try an energy-saving smart power strip. Plug your TV into the “control” outlet and the rest into the white outlets. When you turn off the TV, it automatically cuts power to other devices plugged into the power strip.
- Dry clothes on an outdoor line or on a drying rack.
- Wash clothes in cold water instead of hot.
These simple methods will help reduce your carbon footprint while saving money on utility bills. Any structural upgrades you make to the home will be especially valuable, as green homes are increasingly sought-after by many homebuyers. With global warming quickly becoming a huge issue, it’s up to each of us increase our focus on environmentally friendly, sustainable living.