Lowering our overall impact on the environment is a team effort, and like a ripple effect, a little from each of us can go a long way when it comes to helping out. The place where we can start making change is the one we know best—our homes.
Here are nine ways you can pitch in to make your residence more eco-friendly, while also saving money over time in energy and water bills.
- Install programmable thermostats.
The idea is a logical one: turn off the AC/heat when no one’s home, or lower the temperature whenever people are sleeping. But it can be easy to let those little actions slip away when you’ve got other things on your mind.
Enter the programmable thermostat. It’s a device that regulates your home’s temperature according to settings you create for certain times of the day. The bonus of installing a programmable thermostat is that it’s friendly to your wallet; with it, you’ll save on heating and cooling costs.
- Replace your light bulbs.
Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs) help save energy and have a much longer life span than traditional bulbs. Light a path to decreasing your electricity bills over time by replacing your bulbs with CFLs or LEDs.
- Prevent air leaks.
Shave some dollars off your utility bills during the winter and summer months by plugging air leaks with weather stripping around your doors and caulk around windows. Preventing cold and warm air from escaping your home helps keep your HVAC system from having to constantly work to maintain a desirable indoor temperature.
- Pick energy-efficient appliances.
When it’s time to swap out that old refrigerator, washer or other appliance with a new one, look to see if it’s certified by Energy Star, which denotes products that meet a high level of energy efficiency. Also, check with your electricity provider to see if it offers incentives for replacing old appliances with more efficient ones.
- Reduce water use.
Install aerators on your faucets and change to low-flow shower heads. Outside your home, choose native vegetation for your landscaping, since they generally require less water, fertilizer and pesticides. Additionally, consider washing your clothes in cold water and then air-drying them to help save energy and money.
- Switch to green power.
Green power is an optional utility service that helps support and expand the production and distribution of renewable energy technologies. Choosing green power doesn't mean you have to change your electricity provider. Instead, you simply opt to pay a premium on your electricity bill to cover the extra cost of purchasing clean, sustainable energy. The U.S. Department of Energy has more information.
- Explore solar energy.
Photovoltaic devices and materials, which can convert sunlight into electricity, are becoming increasingly available for residential use. Solar power can be harnessed to create electricity for your home, to heat water and to improve indoor lighting. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy can help you find the right solar solutions for you.
- Use no- to low-VOC products.
Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, can cause headaches; nausea; and irritation to the respiratory system, skin and eyes, among other ailments. Aim to use no- to low-VOC paints and cleaning products in your home—more and more of these options are becoming available at your local store.
- Choose composting.
Food waste in landfills generates methane, a greenhouse gas. Cut your carbon footprint by composting food scraps, except meat, in a backyard composting bin or even a worm bin.
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