As we celebrate Earth Day you may be thinking, how can I make changes in my every day life to help the planet? Being more eco-friendly will not only help you contribute to a sustainable environment but it can even save you money. There are many things you can do with just a few minor changes that can help the planet.
When we think about helping the Earth, we don’t always think about water conservation but it is a great first step. Firstly, take the time to fix any leaks. Even if there are no leaks there are plenty of lifestyle changes you can make to save water. For example, you should ensure that you don’t run the tap when you brush your teeth or shave. It’s also a good idea to install a low-flow shower-head – these have been shown to save up to 160,000 liters of water for a family of four - as well as a low-flow toilet. Does it take a while to get hot water in your shower? Another idea is to install a recirculation pump to drive hot water to different parts of your house reducing the amount of water you have to run before the temperature is just right.
Wash Your Clothes In Cold Water
Up to 90% of the energy used by a washing machine goes toward heating water, according to Energy Star. So skip the heating and just use your washing machine on the cold water setting. This way, you reduce carbon dioxide emission but you also keep your clothes in top condition for longer, as hot water can deteriorate the fabric and make your colorful clothes less vibrant.
Unless you’re dealing with stubborn stains like oil stains, there really isn’t a point in running your washing machine on the hot water setting. If you feel the cold water setting doesn’t do an effectivejob, you can try the warm setting. Energy-wise it’s still better than using the hot water setting, but also more efficient for cleaning than the cold water setting.
Skip The Dryer When Possible
Did you know that your clothes and bedding will last longer if you hang them outside on a drying rack instead of drying them in the dryer? Why not set up a clothes line outside and let the breeze air dry your clothes. If you don’t have a garden or a backyard where you can line-dry your clothes, you can install a drying rack on your balcony and keep the windows open to allow the sun to dry your clothes faster.
Get Window Treatments
The use of curtains and blinds will keep the heat and cool air outside. Despite keeping your windows closed, heat and cold air can still creep in. If you don’t have a big tree to protect your home from the sun during summer months, your home can feel like an oven. Upgrading your curtains and blinds is definitely a great way to maintain the temperature and make your home more environmentally-friendly. Using the AC all day every day is definitely not.
One of the smartest ways to improve your home’s eco-friendliness is to ensure that you use as little energy as possible. Investing in insulation is a great way to do this. Good insulation helps hold in the heat, meaning you don’t need to burn energy reheating the home all of the time. There are plenty of places that can and should be insulated including within the walls, in the attic, and in the roof. You might also want to consider double glazing your windows or upgrading to dual pane. Also, consider covering any exposed hardwood floors in southwest area rugs. Area rugs are a cost-effective and stylish way to help insulate your home and prevent air from slipping out through the cracks in your floors.
Install a Smart Meter
Your heating is one of the biggest ways that you use energy. Using a smart meter that can be programmed so that they only turn on at certain times of the day – for example, beginning to heat up just before you get home, and shutting off an hour or so before you leave the house, which will keep your energy bills at bay and reduce your overall carbon footprint. Some smart meters even have online apps so if you accidentally leave it on you can reset your meter while you are awy.
Energy Efficient LightBulbs
Incandescents are a thing of the past. Now that LEDs have become much more affordable and last so much longer, who wouldn’t want to make the change? You can even get smart bulbs that connect to other smart home devices that you can program so you have lights on when you get home after dark. No more forgetting to leave the porch light on and digging around for your keys in the dark!
Install Solar Panels
Solar panels are an essential feature for any eco home. Providing you with completely clean electricity they can sometimes even make enough energy to allow you to sell some back to the grid. Solar panels are certainly a long-term investment and it has been suggested that it will take around 20 years for you to break even depending on where you live. But remember this is not just a monetary investment – it’s an opportunity to be eco-friendly. Not all solar is equal so a decent amount of research should be done before you decide. If you live in warmer climates you have a better chance of recouping your investment faster.
Embrace natural cleaning products
Using harmful chemicals to clean is very bad for the environment. When you wash them away you are simply putting them into the water supply. That means water will take more purification before it is safe to use again. But the good news is that in the majority of cases you really don’t need to use them. For most day-to-day cleaning tasks, natural products like vinegar, citric acid from citrus fruits and bicarbonate of soda can be used in place of caustic chemicals to great effect. Making your own products can be fun and a great STEM project with the kids! Here’s a link to some great recipes from Good Housekeeping!
Create your own compost
Don’t waste your kitchen scraps and leftover food – turn them into compost. You would be surprised how much of the food that you currently throw away can be recycled and turned into compost. Simply place a compost bin in your garden and fill it with any food waste.
Buy recycled or DIY
It’s a good idea to try to buy recycled products whenever you can. This can include everything from toilet tissue to kitchen roll. Whenever you notice that there is a recycled option available to buy, it’s worth purchasing it. Not only can you buy recycled paper, but you can also buy recycled technology like mobiles, gaming consoles, etc.
Why buy new when you can get creative and involve your family in a fun weekend project? Why buy a useless gift when you can make one for a friend? Here are some easy ideas from Shopify.
Decorate Your House With Plants
Potted plants are effective for indoor air cleaning and they help to spruce up an otherwise dull space. There are some beautiful macrame hanging plant options these days. Do some research to make sure you pick the best spot for natural light where your indoor plants won’t burn and set a reminder to water a few times a week. It is worth it! Here are a few of the best plants to use indoors.
It’s easy to be smarter in the kitchen, which can lead to a far more eco-friendly home. One important example is that you can lose a huge amount of heat if you open an oven door during cooking. Even if the oven is only open for a short time it will then need to use a significant amount of energy heating back up.
Another big problem is the coffee pods waste. They could be contributing to a global environmental disaster, with billions of the sleek aluminum and plastic capsules ending up in landfill in America each year. Drink your coffee from a conventional drip coffee maker or buy coffee pods that are biodegradable. I get mine from Amazon.
Get An Organic Epoxy Garage
Did you know an epoxy garage floor can be cost effective, eco friendly and require fewer chemicals to clean your garage? There are types of organic Epoxy flooring, formulated with organic resins and natural marble that contain zero solvents. This is one of the ”greenest” floors in the industry. Who doesn’t want to spruce up your garage? Make your friends jealous and your car very happy!
I’m sure there are many more things to think of but these are just a few to help steer you in the right direction. Even if you have one or two takeaways you will be making a huge difference to support Mother Earth! Happy Housekeeping!