Happy Earth Day! It’s easy to find distressing evidence of climate change’s global impact, but the good news is that you can help fight it, even at home. We’re not only talking about sustainable spring cleaning or how to turn your house into an energy-efficient home. Both topics are worth considering, but before you start searching online for “how to make house green” or even “how to make house greener,” you’re reading the right article if you’re wondering how to make your home eco-friendly. Those small, everyday decisions we make as individuals can truly help our planet when multiplied. To that end, we put together a list of 10 easy ways to make your house green so you can start doing your part to help the Earth all year long.
1. Water: Use less, save more
Get a water filter for your household drinking water and stop buying plastic bottles. Also, stop running the water while you brush your teeth or shave. Your next step is to fix the leaks. According to the EPA, the average home leaks more than 10,000 gallons of water every year. Next, only consider efficient, Energy Star-compliant appliances. Wash your clothes with cold water. Low-flow showerheads can cut water waste by more than 50%.
2. Solar: Invest in clean power
Solar panels offer clean electricity and reduce your energy consumption. The upfront, after-tax investment can be up to $15,000; however, depending on the amount of regular sunlight where you live, solar panels can allow you to sell energy back to your local electric company, paying for themselves over time while significantly reducing your home’s carbon footprint. With solar, your electric bill is sure to drop, you’ll save a lot of energy while creating your own, and you’ll recoup your upfront investment within 10 to 20 years.
3. Light: Save sensibly with LEDs
This is one of the easiest no-brainers in our green-home list. Electric light sources account for about 10% of your home’s electricity usage, and they come in three types: incandescent, CFL and LED. Think of these three types of bulbs as “bad, better and best,” in that order. CFLs are a little better than incandescent bulbs, but incandescent bulbs use a staggering 80% more energy than LED bulbs, which last about 20 times longer and put out a lot less heat. Even CFLs can’t compete, so just use LEDs.
4. Thermostat: Smart equals efficient
Home heating and cooling represents the majority of your utility spending, and it’s typically inefficient. Sometimes called a “smart meter,” a programmable thermostat helps your home heat and cool more efficiently by running the air conditioner or heater as needed. The result is a more eco-friendly home that wastes less electricity, releases less carbon, and lowers your energy bill.
5. Cleaning products: Detoxify
Toxic chemicals are bad for us, and they’re bad for the environment when we wash them away or add them to landfills soaked into paper towels (which we also need to ditch). They’re expensive, bad for our animals and our kids, and create tons of plastic waste, of which only a fraction ever gets recycled. You can clean just about anything without toxic chemicals by using vinegar, baking soda, lemons, a little salt and some soapy, warm water instead.
6. Compost: Get gardening today
Half the trash from most homes is food waste! Why not make it plant food instead? Now’s the perfect time to begin composting and grow your first garden. Get a backyard compost bin. A pot with a lid, kept in the back of your fridge and periodically dumped into the backyard composter, keeps things neat, tidy and odor-free, and easily accessible indoors. If you can’t start gardening, some cities pick up compost or have a drop-off.
7. Cooking: Cook conscientiously
Use a toaster instead of the oven whenever you can. Give up on environmentally disastrous coffee pods that only fester in landfills. Reuse the water after boiling pasta. Cook with fewer burners. Eat more fresh veggies, which require less cooking, and stop buying salad dressing. Make your own with olive oil, red wine vinegar, mustard, garlic and salt. You’ll save money, excise extra plastic from your life, and be amazed at the flavors you’ve been missing.
8. Insulation: Fill the gaps
Your home’s biggest energy hog is your HVAC unit, so making it as efficient as possible is the goal. Attics are a great place to start looking for opportunities to add insulation. A properly sealed space will keep your HVAC work more efficiently, helping your home stay warmer or cooler as needed. Attic fans can reduce your energy bill, along with reducing the potential for moisture buildup that could cause mold problems. Invest in better windows (and area rugs if you have hardwood floors), and plug any gaps around windows and doors with weather stripping.
9. Windows: Find your blinds
While you’re taking a new interest in how efficiently your home regulates its temperatures, don’t underestimate the power of blinds, curtains and other window treatments. While it’s nice to have some privacy, it’s even nicer to have some help keeping your home at the temperature you prefer and not rely solely on your HVAC system. Curtains, blinds and window treatments can help your home stay at a more comfortable temperature in any season.
10. Plants: Plant some plants
Herb gardens take up little space, require minimal work, make a nice contribution to cleaner air in your home, and are handy for cooking. You can even work in some of that new compost to help fertilize the little guys. While you’re busy greening that home of yours, be sure to check out our spring cleaning tips and 21 ways to go green. You might be interested in the benefits of Energy Star appliances, too. Subscribe to Cinch’s monthly newsletter for additional green-home tips (and more) by entering your email address here.
The information in this article is intended to provide guidance on the proper maintenance and care of systems and appliances in the home. Not all of the topics mentioned are covered by our home warranty or maintenance plans. Please review your home warranty contract carefully to understand your coverage.