Taking time to consider the environment is about being good stewards with what we’re given, and preserving the awesomeness of creation. Making a few smart, simple changes at home is often all it takes to make a big difference – for the planet AND for your budget! Here are some tips and tools for leaner, greener living:
With a programmable, app-enabled thermostat, you’ll have more control over how your home A/C runs throughout the day. The popular Nest thermostat not only lets you pre-program your home’s heating & cooling schedule, but it also learns from your on-the-fly adjustments and adapts its schedule to anticipate your moves. By simply cutting down on the amount of time your A/C might be running when you’re not away, and cooling down incrementally before you get home, the EPA estimates you can save around $150 a year in energy costs. (www.nest.com)
The average family uses up to nearly 40 gallons of water EVERY DAY, and that’s just for showering! New shower head technology has led to shower heads that reduce the amount of water flowing through them, while simultaneously delivering stronger pressure. After a year of using one of these smart shower heads, you could conserve around 2,900 gallons of water each year. The world will thank you – and so will your wallet!
Lighting consumes up to 25% of the average home’s energy budget. You can drastically reduce that consumption by ditching your old incandescent bulbs for Compact Fluorescent (CFL) bulbs. These bulbs draw a fraction of the wattage of incandescents, and often deliver clearer, brighter light. And, they last up to 10x longer than old-model bulbs too. That saves you money, energy and time too!
SKIP THE CHEMICALS. DO A GREEN CLEAN!
Look under nearly every kitchen sink in America you’ll find an arsenal of harsh chemical cleaners, aerosol sprays, and any number of nasty, bleach infused toxins that are bad for your skin and worse for the environment. Consider stocking up instead on more pleasant smelling, natural alternatives to your cleaning liquids.
Here are some of our favorites:
- Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Multi-Surface Everyday Cleaner
- Try the lavender. Your kitchen will smell like a field in provincial France.
- Common Good All Purpose Cleaner
- Great design meets powerful natural cleaning
- Seventh Generation All Purpose Cleaner
- Find it at Target or other popular home-goods stores.
- Apple Cider vinegar
- You heard us. It’s all-natural, doesn’t smell too bad, and it’s as good as bleach when it comes to scrubbing away grime.
WASH YOUR CLOTHES WITH COLD WATER
85% to 90% of the energy it takes to wash a load of clothes or towels goes into heating the water. While warm or hot water is good for heavily soiled cottons, cold water is better on most clothing. It’ll help your clothes last longer and keep their colors. The only shrinkage you’ll see will be on your power bill.
You can live a little greener by literally adding greenery inside your home. Plants are natural air-filters. They thrive off many of the airborne particles and gasses that are unhealthy to humans. A house full of plants is filled with cleaner, healthier air that’s oxygen-rich. Don’t have a green thumb? No worries – there are plenty of low-maintenance plants that thrive in low-light and and survive pretty long without water. Try the golden pothos – a kind of philodendron that grows long leafy vines and only needs water once a week!
OPEN THE BLINDS
During the day, and especially on weekends at home – try opening your blinds before reaching for that light switch. You can conserve 10% of your energy consumption by favoring natural light during the day. Many homeowners will tell you that natural light through opened blinds can uplift a room by making it feel fresh and less stuffy.
SAVE A FOREST. DITCH THE PAPER TOWELS
Paper towels are convenient for us, but far less convenient to the forests and animals that are displaced or destroyed in the production of billions of paper towel rolls each year. When you compare the cost to our world’s magnificent forests to the convenience of wiping up a spill with a disposable sheet, you’ll find it’s just not worth it! Switch to cloth towels that you can use over and over. They often do a better job, and you’ll save some cash along with thousands of trees over your lifetime.
USE ZERO TO LOW VOC PAINTS
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) pour into our homes and lungs by the pound every time we use paints, lacquers, paint strippers and pesticides. In the case of paint, these compounds are continually emitted over time, even after the paint has dried. According to the EPA, many harmful organic compounds in homes are found at levels 2 to 5 times higher than the outdoors! New paints at Lowes and Home Depot are low or zero VOC. That means you’ll have great, durable paints that aren’t dumping unhealthy gas into your lungs year after year.
These are just a handful of energy-saving, health-improving, world-bettering ideas. If you’ve caught the green-life bug and want to learn even more, head over to Pinterest and The Light Team at Keller Williams boards for more ideas, tips and tools to make your home a greener space.