We care about the planet, but many can’t afford the large price tag of solar panels, geothermal heating, temperature regulating walls, triple pane windows, etc. Fret no more, there are many ways to reduce your homes environmental footprint without breaking the bank. We all know the standard ones: buy energy efficient appliances, try to set the thermostats at good levels, having house plants, energy efficient windows, turning off faucets and lights when not in use, etc.
As you might have guessed, many of these come down to conserving energy. Compact fluorescent light bulbs save 66% energy over incandescent bulbs, which equates to 400 pounds of greenhouse gas per bulb replaces. Homes that have multi-socket extension leads and switch them off while the attached devices are not in use, can reduce up to 15% of their energy consumption (ie power used by TVs, etc. while they are on standby). If possible put your fridge in a place that doesn’t get sunlight to save energy and about 4 inches from the wall for proper air flow. Also decide what you want to eat before opening the fridge, rather than leaving open for a long time (similarly for opening oven door while cooking). Using a microwave saves 50% less energy than a conventional oven. Take a shower instead of a bath, which can use as little as 14% of the water a bath uses.
Heating and cooling are the lion share of most homes energy consumption. During the day open your blinds and drapes to let light in, which can save up to 10% of energy from the sun’s passive heating (reverse for days wanting to keep the house cooler). Using rugs on wooden floors can save 4% – 6% on energy bills. Have a party! Each person in your home can generate the same amount of heat as a 100-watt heater.
What finishes you use in your house also can make a huge difference. The fastest growing plant in the world, bamboo, is much more environmentally friendly to use for flooring than hardwood flooring. Use organic cotton or sustainable bamboo sheets, cotton linens account for 25% of the world’s insecticide use. Toilets account for 30% of total indoor water use, install a low-flow one. Install a low-flow shower head, a family of 4 can save 160,000 liters a year.
Compost organic matter to reduce the need for water, fertilizers, and pesticides as well as reduces the household waste that ends up in a landfill and eases the energy and costs associated with trash collection.
There are so many other simple and cheap things that can be done to nurture the planet we all inhabit. Please write in and share more great ideas! If anyone wants to also look into solar, geo-thermal, additional insulation, etc. please do not hesitate to contact me so I can give you the names of great contractors.