Lowering your impact on the environment requires effort and conscious decisions. But when everyone works towards a common goal, like a ripple effect, even a small change can go a long way. Wondering how you can help out? The easiest and best place to start is your home.
What is a green home?
Simply put, it’s designing a house or implementing technology that uses less energy, water, and natural resources compared to a standard home. The aim is to make it more efficient so that it utilizes less power while creating less waste. More importantly, it’ll be a healthier habitat for you and your family.
Why make your home green?
There are several benefits of living in a green home, whether you build a sustainable house or make alterations later on. The initial costs are usually high, but there are big-time paybacks in the long run. Here are a few of them:
- Green homes use non-toxic materials so constructing them generates less waste. You’re living up to your commitment to be part of a more eco-friendly world. Make sure you find a professional who is familiar with utilizing green building techniques.
- A green home often uses high-quality, durable building materials and construction processes than an ordinary house. Better materials equate to fewer repairs.
- Natural and mechanical ventilation systems help filter and circulate fresh air from outside as well as within to combat indoor air pollution.
- A typical household can spend thousands on residential energy bills in a year. Green homes can save anywhere from 30-60 percent on bills.
- As the demand for green homes continues to rise, investing in one is a good idea. It’s resale value is often higher than that of a similar standard home.
- Homes use a substantial amount of energy, most of which is derived from oil or coal. With the incorporation of green technology and alternative sources such as solar, wind, geothermal and biomass, houses can consume up to 40% less energy.
How to make your home green
Investing time and money to make your residence more eco-friendly may seem costly at first. But over time, you’ll see a difference in your energy and water bills. Once you choose the options, you have to commit and follow through.
Here are some simple techniques you can implement to transform your home into a greener place.
1. Turn off the lights
On average, nearly 5% of a household budget goes towards lighting. The easiest way to curb energy expenses is to turn off the lights. To save even more, utilize natural light as much as possible.
2. Replace your light bulbs
Switch inefficient incandescent bulbs with CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps) or LEDs (light-emitting diodes) for considerable energy savings. They have a much longer lifespan. But if you want to take lighting efficiency to the next level, consider installing some of the following throughout your home:
- Dimmers: They provide greater control over indoor lighting than merely turning them on or off. Dimming reduces wattage and output, thereby saving energy and increasing the lifespan of a light bulb.
- Occupancy Sensors: These sensors automatically turn on lights when you enter the room, and turn them off after a short period of inactivity. Devices come in two varieties: ultrasonic (detect sound) and infrared (detect heat and motion).
- Photo Sensors: Once the natural light becomes inadequate, these devices allow outdoor lights to turn on automatically by detecting ambient light levels.
3. Choose the right decor
Selecting light-colored or loose-knit fabrics for your curtains will allow daylight to enter your space while retaining some privacy. Strategically position bright objects such as mirrors to disperse light deeper into the room for a more illuminating effect.
4. Unplug appliances
Turning off electric devices when they’re not in use is important for reducing energy consumption. But a machine still consumes energy even it’s plugged in and on standby. This “phantom energy” can cost up to $100 per year! So unplug anything you’ve finished using. What’s good for your wallet is good for the planet too.
5. Pick energy-efficient appliances
When it’s time to replace an old appliance such as a fridge or washer, search for products that are energy efficient.
6. Reduce, reuse, and recycle
Most of the trash we generate consists of organic material, such as paper and food waste. As they break down, methane is released, which traps more heat than CO2. To reduce waste, opt for reusable items instead of disposable ones. Avoid using plastic and paper products but when you must, try buying recycled items. Recycle and repurpose whenever possible. If you want to take going green to the next level, just place a compost bin in your garden and fill it with kitchen wastes.
7. Explore solar energy
Solar panels can convert sunlight into electricity. They’re becoming increasingly popular in residential use for generating electricity and heating water. Sometimes, they make enough energy that you can sell back to the grid. Solar panels are a long-term investment, but it’s an opportunity for you to become eco-friendly.
Maintain solar panels to ensure maximum electricity production. To get the best solar o&m, you should select a company that is well-established and well-organized, preferably one that incorporates products from the Scoop company.
8. Reduce water consumption
An average household utilizes about 260 gallons of water per day. Since tremendous energy is needed for treating, heating, and pumping water, water usage is directly linked to energy use. So, take the time to fix any leaks. Don’t let the faucet run unnecessarily while you shave or brush. Stick to short showers (requires about 10-15 gallons) and cut back on baths (uses almost 70 gallons).
Install aerators on the faucets and switch to low-flow shower heads. Run a dishwasher or washing machine only when they’re full. If possible, consider washing your clothes in cold water and let them air-dry to save energy and money.
9. Embrace natural cleaning products
Using harmful cleaning chemicals can affect your health and the environment. When you wash your hands or containers, you merely put them into the water supply. It’ll take more effort to purify the water before it’s safe to consume again. Aim to use paints and cleaning products that are non-toxic. Natural products like vinegar, lemon, and baking soda can be used instead of caustic chemicals.
10. Install a programmable thermostat
Programmable thermostats are devices that can be programmed to regulate the temperature of your home. The heating and the cooling system turns on or off at certain times of the day. For example, the heat can be turned up just before you get home, and shut off an hour before you leave. This reduces energy consumption and therefore the bill.
Keep in mind that the easiest way to on save utility bills during the year is to plug air leaks around the house. If you apply weather strippings around doors, double glaze the windows, and use area rugs. They prevent cold or warm air from escaping and stop the HVAC system from constantly working to maintain a desirable indoor temperature.
When we consider the word ‘sustainability’, our mind often correlates it with energy consumption. However, being truly eco-friendly means taking a holistic approach. With the few pointers mentioned above, you can now start living in a more energy-efficient home!
Michelle Joe is a blogger by choice. She loves to discover the world around her. She likes to share her discoveries, experiences, and express herself through her blogs. You can find her on twitter: @michellejoe524