Being earth-friendly doesn't require going solar or growing all your own food. Making your home a little greener is easy and will have a great impact on the environment. A few simple changes in your home can go a long way to combat both high energy bills and global warming.
There are plenty of easy ways to make a big difference. Consider these 10 tips that will also save you money.
1. Use CFLs.
Replace your incandescent light bulbs with ENERGY STAR® qualified compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). By replacing even your five most frequently used light bulbs, you'll save $100 per year because they use 66% less energy than a standard incandescent bulb and last up to 10 times longer.
2. Program Your Thermostats.
Watch the temperature and save 10% on your heating and cooling costs just by setting your thermostat back when you're not home and while you're sleeping. Turn down the thermostat in cold weather and keep it higher in warm weather. Each degree below 20°C (68°F) during colder weather saves 3%-5% more heating energy, while keeping your thermostat at 25°C (78°F) in warmer weather will save you energy and money. You won't notice the change in the temperature, until you look at the reduction in your energy bills.
3. Plug Air Leaks. Air leaks are the biggest energy waster in the home but they can be simple to fix. Install weather-stripping and caulk to stop those expensive drafts and improve comfort. It's inexpensive and easy to install, and good for the environment. Look for leaks around windows, doors, electrical outlets, plumbing penetrations, and in the attic floor.
4. Go Low-Flow.
Install low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators to save resources without sacrificing water pressure. An efficient showerhead will save your family $300 per year. They only cost about $15 and installing them couldn't be easier as they just screw on. You could also install a low-flow toilet. However, if you don't want to make changes to your washroom, adjust your toilet's float valve to admit less water into the toilet's tank.
5. Green Up Your Appliances.
When replacing your appliances, such as your water heater, furnace, or air conditioner, you should select ENERGY STAR® qualified products. Appliance use comprises about 18% of a typical home’s total energy bill. If any of your appliances are more than 10 years old, replacing them with energy-efficient models that bear the ENERGY STAR® logo will be very beneficial and save you hundreds of dollars a year.
6. Clean Green.
Stop buying household cleaners that are toxic to both you and the environment. Use alcohol as a solvent instead of toxic butyl cellosolve, found in carpet cleaners and some window cleaners, and use coconut or other plant oils rather than petroleum in detergents. Or, skip buying altogether and make your own cleaning products. Use simple ingredients such as plain soap, water, baking soda, vinegar, and lemon juice and you will also save money.
7. Use Bamboo for Flooring.
Renovating your wooden floors? Look for bamboo. Bamboo is considered an environmentally friendly flooring material due to its high yield and the relatively fast rate at which it replenishes itself. It takes about four to six years for bamboo to mature while other typical hardwood take 50-100 years. Look for bamboo sources that use formaldehyde-free glues.
8. Use Healthier Paint. Conventional paints contain solvents, toxic metals, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can cause smog, ozone pollution, and indoor air quality problems, all that result with negative health effects. These unhealthy ingredients are released into the air while you’re painting, while the paint dries, and even after the paints are completely dry. When selecting paints, look for the Green Seal and opt for zero- or low-VOC paint.
9. Save a Tree.
You can save a tree if you use less paper. You can buy "tree-free" 100% post-consumer recycled paper for everything from greeting cards to toilet paper. Paper with a high post-consumer waste content uses less virgin pulp and keeps more waste paper out of landfills.
10. Green Garden.
When fertilizing your garden's grass, flowers and plants, use compost instead of synthetic fertilizers. Compost provides a full complement of soil organisms and the balance of nutrients needed to maintain the soil’s well-being. This will result in a healthy soil, which will minimize weeds and is key to producing healthy plants.
When it comes to saving the environment, being a good global citizen starts at your doorstep. From using alternative cleaning materials to making minor changes in your home, all can add up to big benefits for the planet and your health, and will also save you money.