Whether you want to save the planet or save money, striving to create more eco-friendly habits at home can have a big impact on your finances and the environment. That being said, you donít have to go to extremes in order to go green at home. Here are a few simple strategies for incorporating environmentally friendly practices at home.
Minimize Wasted Energy
Saving money and energy at home doesnít have to be difficult. However, many people hold off on beginning any efforts to be more eco-friendly because they think they have to make major changes or make a significant financial investment. While more drastic options certainly exist, you can begin with a few small adjustments.
For example, look into whether your electric company has peak hours where electricity usage is the highest. Using large amounts of power during these times puts an additional strain on a utility companyís production facilities. This creates more pollution overall and may even increase the rate at which youíre paying for power. Peak hours often fall between noon and 6:00pm.
Instead, aim to save electricity-intensive tasks for the early mornings or evenings. Your power company may even offer a billing plan that includes time-of-use rates, and you might save a significant amount of money by shifting your electricity usage habits by just a few hours.
Another simple way to minimize wasted energy is to maintain your homeís insulation. Youíre constantly paying to cool and heat your home, which takes a lot of power. Too often, inefficient insulation, worn out ducts, and ineffective seals on doors and windows lessen the effectiveness of your homeís heating and cooling system, costing you money and wasting energy.
That being said, during the summer, temperatures can become extreme, and this will put the most strain on your air conditioner. During warmer months, aim to open your windows at night to let hot air to escape your home while letting cooler air in. Utilizing ceiling fans can allow you to raise the temperature setting on your cooling system without sacrificing comfort. You should also be conscious of the heat created by large appliances like a dishwasher, oven, or laundry machines.
In order to reduce energy costs in the winter, be sure to lower the thermostat when you leave your home. While you may need to keep it set to a reasonable temperature to avoid freezing pipes, thereís no sense in maintaining a higher temperature if no one is around. This is much more convenient if you have a programmable thermostat. Inevitably, some areas of your home will always be colder than others. Rather than raising the temperature in the entire house to compensate for the difference, use a small space heater when you need to use these areas.
Your water usage also takes a toll on your homeís energy costs. Fixing any leaky pipes is an obvious step in conserving water. This will also help prevent water damage in your home. When possible, washing your clothes in cold water can save about 90 percent of the energy needed to run your washer. This can also help prevent your clothes from fading or shrinking, which will prevent you from spending money as often to replace them.
At some point, if youíre willing to begin investing in more intensive green technologies, you may qualify for tax credits that help offset the costs. This could include things like double-pane windows, LED light bulbs, a solar energy system, and more energy-efficient appliances. Itís worth noting that these may take time to begin to show a difference on your bills, but they can have significant effects on your overall energy consumption.
Shift Your Buying Habits
We live in a culture that places a high value on convenience and consumption. The end result of this is a lot of waste. The technology industry is a great example of this as companies are constantly improving old models of phones, computers, televisions, and other devices. People quickly abandon outdated devices in order to enjoy all the new features.
This is true for many varieties of electronic devices. Unfortunately, a lot of these end up in landfills or incinerators where they can release harmful chemicals and materials into the ground, air, and bodies of water. While this often affects animals first, the ill effects of electronic waste can quickly move up the food chain, impacting people around the world.
This doesnít mean you should feel ashamed if you want the new iPhone or a bigger TV. However, you shouldnít make these purchases carelessly, without at least considering their environmental impacts. When you quickly replace your electronic devices, youíre also sending a message to companies that they should produce more and more, which burns a lot of energy and contributes to pollution around the world.
While electronics provide a concrete example of the relationship between consumption and waste, you can extend this consideration to include many other purchases. This could include clothing, DVDs, books, dishes, toys, tools, and more. Youíve probably at least heard about a trend of people aiming to achieve a more minimalist lifestyle, and in many cases, this is a direct response to the amount of waste we create as a society.
Going green using minimalism strategies in your home doesnít mean you have to get rid of everything you own or that you should refuse to buy new items. Instead, you can strike a healthier balance and make more conscious purchase decisions. For example, you might aim to buy higher quality reusable items instead of cheaply made items that wonít last as long. This limits the amount youíll have to spend over time as well as the waste youíll produce in replacing items.
When possible, you can also aim to buy items from companies that show some amount of dedication to natural causes and environmentally conscious production methods and materials. Itís not always easy or affordable to buy products solely from these brands, so you shouldnít necessarily expect to make a huge shift all at once. However, if you can begin considering the environmental effects of your purchasing habits, small shifts toward greener products can contribute to a major impact over time.
Work With Nature
Technological advances have led many of us to rely on chemicals which can help us keep our homes clean. However, these can poison the soil as well as water sources when disposed of incorrectly, and itís obvious from their warning labels that they can also be harsh on our skin, eyes, and lungs.
Instead of using harsh chemicals to clean your home, reach for natural cleaning ingredients. In most cases, these can clean just as well, and theyíre often cheap to make yourself. You may already have some of the common ingredients on hand, such as white vinegar, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and lemon juice. Although natural ingredients can be less poisonous and corrosive, itís important to be careful when mixing and diluting your natural cleaning solutions.
Similarly, by bringing houseplants into your home, you can purify the air naturally, removing toxins and other pollutants from the air. Spider plants, garden mums, aloe vera, and snake plants are all good choices and are fairly easy to take care of. If you have pets, be sure to check if a plant might be toxic before bringing it into your home.
Composting food scraps is another way to reduce waste and contribute to a healthy natural environment. Sending nutrients from food and other organic materials to the landfill wonít do the earth much good. However, by composting these items, you can return valuable nutrients to the soil, enriching plants and other wildlife. While itís common to setup a compost bin outside of your home, you can make your own indoor compost bin for houseplants as well as vegetable gardens and other outdoor plants.
Set a Positive Example
If you have children or other family members living with you, itís important to share why youíve begun making any of these changes. Leading by example will encourage them to establish greener habits that will help the environment and save money on energy costs. By sharing your knowledge about why and how you should cultivate a more eco-friendly home, you can instill values that will continue to spread to future generations, reaching far beyond your home.