Seven Ways to Live Greener and Save Money in Your Home
Reduce your water use
There are numerous ways to reduce water usage and your monthly utility bill. You can install low-flow showerheads for about $30 to $40 per shower head. You can also cheaply turn a regular toilet into a low-flow toilet by filling a used water bottle with sand, sealing it, and putting it into the toilet tank. The sealed water bottle will displace the liquid needed to fill the tank, reducing water usage. You can also create a rain garden utilizing your home’s gutters. Rain runoff from your roof will hydrate the flowers you plant in the rain garden for free. You can also collect that rainwater and use it to water plants throughout your yard.
Adjust your thermostat when you’re away from home
The United States Department of Energy has estimated that lowering your thermostat – in the winter – or raising your thermostat – in the summer – by 10 to 15 degrees for an 8–hour period (about the time you are at work) will save five to 15 percent on your electricity bill. Another option is to purchase a programmable thermostat. Although they can be costly, these devices will save you money in the long run because after you program one, it will automatically adjust the temperature based on when you are usually at work or asleep.
Insulate your home
A lot of temperature is either lost or gained through your home’s windows and doors. Some studies have shown that a pane of glass lets nearly 10 times as much heat escape as an insulated wall. Replacing windows can be expensive. However, a cost-effective solution is plastic window film, which will help trap in heat during the winter. In the summer, consider installing outdoor shades, Bahama shutters, or plant shade trees outside windows. For your house’s doors, consider purchasing draft blockers.
Cut down electricity use
Although more expensive than incandescent bulbs, LED light bulbs have been shown to save over $1000 over 10 years in energy savings. Incandescent bulbs consume more than six times the electricity of an LED counterpart. Plus LED bulbs have a lifespan of around 6 years, while incandescent bulbs last roughly a year. It’s also a good idea to unplug appliances, chargers, and other devices while not in use. The USDE has said that homeowners can save up to $200 each year by following this very simple tip.
Compost wasted food
The US Environmental Protection Agency estimates that yard waste and food scraps make up about 30 percent of what is thrown away into landfills. Many of these materials can instead be composted. Compostable materials include dead leaves, twigs, grass clippings, fruits and vegetables, eggshells, coffee grounds and filters, tea bags, nutshells, shredded newspaper, cardboard and paper, sawdust and wood chips, cotton and wool rugs, hair and fur, and fireplace ashes. Compost piles outside can be properly maintained with soil and water and can even be covered by a tarp. You can also compost indoors with sealed buckets and common gardening supplies.
Clean smarter not harder
There are many things you can do to keep your house clean, and green. When washing your clothes, use the cold setting. This will get your clothes just as clean while saving the energy needed to heat the water. Once your wash is done, line-dry your clothes as opposed to using a dryer. Even modern, energy-efficient dryers use a lot of energy to dry your clothes. When cleaning the bathroom or the kitchen, instead of expensive store-bought cleaners, you can make a simple mixture of water, vinegar, and essential oils. Vinegar is a natural disinfectant while the essential oils provide a pleasing scent. While cleaning the surfaces in your home, consider using washable rags instead of paper towels. Again, this will save resources and save you money.
When possible, replace old appliances with energy-efficient ones
When you need to replace outdated or no-longer-functional appliances or electronics consider buying newer models with ENERGY STAR certification. Investments like these will pay dividends the longer you own and use these items. Washers, dryers, ovens, microwaves, TVs, and even homes and apartments can be ENERGY STAR certified.