These days it’s more important than ever to go green in every aspect of your life, especially your home. After all, it is where you sleep, eat and raise your children (and fur babies)! Greening your home will not only create a safe, healthy environment for your loved ones, but also help you consume less energy and even cut down on bills.
If you aren’t familiar with green solutions it can feel overwhelming to begin. To help with this we’ve pulled together some simple ways to make your home green and healthy today!
1. Check the interior plumbing for leaks. Leaky toilets, faucets, and pipes waste more water than one might think. To save water, check all interior plumbing for leaks and patch them up immediately. Pay attention to any dripping noises you may hear around the house and watch for signs of leaks. If you’re not handy enough to patch the leak yourself, call a plumber to assess the situation. A small upfront cost could save you hundreds down the road in not only replacement/repair costs, but in your water bill!
2. Enroll in paperless bills, and get off junk mail lists. These days most utility providers, banks, and cable companies offer the option of receiving online statements vs. printed statements. With a few clicks of the mouse, or a simple phone call you can save hundreds of sheets of paper per month! The bills will be sent to your email, which you can view and monitor just like the paper bills. Another way to reduce your paper mail is to opt out of unsolicited commercial mail, credit card offers, and insurance offers. The Federal Trade Commission gives us tips for cutting down on the number of unsolicited mailings, calls, and emails you receive by learning where to go to "just say no."
3. Use natural products daily. While I’d love to say that all natural products are more effective than chemicals, I fear I cannot. However, using natural products for every day maintenance cleaning is far safer and healthier than using harsh chemical cleaning products daily. What’s the happy medium? Use your chemical cleansers like bleach, Windex, and Lysol every once in a while when you’re doing a deep clean of your home and use the natural products for every day spills and cleanups. That way you are completely sterilizing once in a while, but you aren’t exposing your loved ones to harsh chemicals on a regular basis. Always remember to store your chemical cleaning products out of reach of children and pets to ensure they don’t accidentally expose themselves!
4. Take your shoes off at the door. This is an easy one. Set up a shelf near the door and ask everyone that enters your household to take off their shoes upon entering. This not only helps you avoid getting stains on your carpet (and using more cleaning products) but also reduces the amount of toxins and pollutants coming into your home. Throughout the day, your shoes pick up all manner of disgusting germs, chemicals, fertilizers and allergens. You don’t want that tracked into your home!
5. Use reduced amounts of energy, water, and resource consumption. This should go without saying, but you would be surprised how many people remain unconscious about conserving resources in their every day life. For example, at night only turn on the light in the room you are using at that moment. When you leave the room, turn it off. When you aren’t watching the TV, turn it off, and try not to leave it on while you’re sleeping. When you’re doing the dishes or taking a shower, you can turn off the water while you are scrubbing, and turn it back on when it’s time for rinsing. They also make low-flow showerheads, which have been shown to save 15 to 25 gallons of water per day (depending on the amount of showers taken). Installing low-flow toilets and aerators in your faucets can save enormous amounts of water as well. Little changes like this can make a huge difference in not only the environment, but your utility bills as well!
6. Install proper weatherization, such as insulation, weather stripping and efficient windows. Homes, especially older homes, tend to have gaps around their doors and windows. You can check for drafts, caulk around your windows and doors, and be sure your attic and walls are well insulated. It may not be obvious, but small cracks can let out (or in!) a bunch of air, keeping your homes cooling and heating systems running at less than maximum efficiency. Installing weather stripping can save you 10 percent on your heating and cooling bill, and it can be picked up at your local hardware store and easily installed in a matter of hours. You don’t even have to do it all at once, make small changes each month and notice the difference within a year!
7. Recycle. Most cities now a days offer recycling bins for pick up, and if they don’t, it’s a once a month trip to the recycling center that will make a world of difference. Better yet, cut down on recyclable waste in the first place. Re-use glass containers and install a water filter rather than buying bottled water. Cut down on paper towel waste by reserving paper towels for really disgusting clean ups, and using a cloth towel for the maintenance scrubs. You can cut up old regular towels, or purchase bar towels from a restaurant supply store. Clean them once you have a full load of dirty towels, and you’re set. The earth will thank you!
8. Maintain efficient appliances, light bulbs, and heating and cooling systems. Whether or not we want to believe it, the savings in energy when using energy saving appliances is enormous. Did you know that trading just one incandescent light bulb for a compact fluorescent prevents the emissions of over 400lbs of greenhouse gasses? If you aren’t a fan of the light the fluorescents put out, perhaps compromise by changing out half of the lights in your home. As for appliances, if you aren’t using newer, energy efficient appliances, use them less frequently or on a lower setting. For example, only wash clothes when you have a full load, and be sure to choose the correct size load so more water is not wasted than needed. When you leave the house, turn your air conditioner up to 80 degrees so that you aren’t cooling an empty house.
Implementing these changes little by little can ensure that your home is running at maximum efficiency, your bills are lower, and your household is safe from toxins and chemicals. Start making small changes today and you will thank yourself down the road!