6 Ways To Make Your Home Environmentally Friendly
Here’s how you can cut back on energy use, see lower utility bills and reduce the bacteria and toxins potentially entering your home.
No matter the politics, there is no denying that environmental issues are making front page news more than ever before. Articles and TV news segments examine climate, pollution and depleting natural resources.
There is also much attention paid to how our lives are affected by each of these, and how our behavior, in turn, affects the environment. Not only are topics like calamitous storms, rising temperatures and melting ice caps becoming more and more relevant to our daily lives, but many people who may never have thought about pollution and climate change are beginning to care deeply about these issues.
Having an eco-friendly home is becoming increasingly important to many people as well. They want a home that not only pollutes less and leaves a smaller carbon footprint, but one that is healthy to live in and has cost-effective systems. More and more, there are opportunities to make our homes, and thus our lives, healthier, cleaner, smarter and greener.
If having an environmentally friendly home is important to you (or even just having a home that drains less from your bank account), here are some easy things you can add to your home:
- Energy-efficient light bulbs.
- Water filter.
- Smart home climate control.
- Motion sensors for lights.
- Appliances that are full.
- Shoeless rooms.
Energy-Efficient Light Bulbs
Changing out incandescent bulbs for LED light bulbs is a major energy saver. They last longer and use less electricity, which means fewer trips to the store or ordering less often online (which saves plenty of ancillary resources like gasoline, packaging and more) and avoiding the annoying task of changing light bulbs on a regular basis.
As LED technology improves and becomes more common, these bulbs are becoming more affordable and versatile. On top of feeling good about minimizing environmental impact, LED bulbs use less energy, so you can feel good – or at least better – when you look at your electric bills, too.
Many people don’t like to drink out of the tap, but our bottled water habit in the United States creates a lot of waste – each bottle is single-use, and many don’t get recycled. Using a water filter from the tap creates less plastic waste. Filtered water from the sink also means your drinking water won’t be sitting in plastic as long, leaving less time for the water to absorb microscopic particles that we end up drinking.
Smart Home Climate Control
Years ago, a couple bought and then sold a townhouse they used for multiple purposes. They lived on the top two floors, ran a business out of an office on street level and then rented out a one-bedroom apartment on the parlor floor. The entire house had a single electrical meter, and the tenant’s electricity use in the one-bedroom apartment was not separated from the rest of the house.
This tenant liked her apartment freezing cold, and ran her air conditioner day and night, as she did not want to come home to a hot apartment at the end of a summer day. This used to drive the landlords crazy, as they were thus paying a very high electric bill to cool spaces that were not being used. Eventually, the relationship between the tenant and the landlords soured and they parted ways.
If the home had remote climate control, as many do today, whether through Nest or a different system, much of this could have been avoided, as the tenant could have turned on the air conditioning remotely prior to coming home. This would not only avoid high electric bills, but also make the home more eco-friendly.
Motion Sensors for Lights
One way to lower energy costs and electricity usage is to turn off lights when you leave a room. But the truth is that many people find it difficult to remember to do this, and kids can be especially careless. If a room is lit but not used, this is not only a waste of electricity, but also a waste of money.
Motion sensors have become increasingly attainable and available, and some smart homes attach the lighting to these sensors. If no movement sets the sensor off after a certain amount of time, the lights in a room can go off automatically. This is not only energy efficient for the planet, but it is also economically efficient for your electric bill.
Appliances That Are Full
Filling your freezer and refrigerator is energy efficient because most of the motor’s work goes toward cooling the air inside. If the space is filled with food, this means there is less air, and the motor doesn’t have to work as hard. That means less strain on the appliance, and more energy efficiency.
Similarly, run your dishwasher only when it is full. This means you will run the dishwasher less often, using less water over time. The water will also be used more efficiently, and dishwashers use a lot of water. While you should not pack the dishwasher so tightly that the water cannot move around the dirty dishes, you don’t want the water and soap used to wash empty space.
Some experts say that it’s a good idea to run your dishwasher completely empty and without soap on occasion to rinse away some of the grime or residue that might accumulate over time from dishwashing detergent. This occasional clean run can be offset by your more efficient use of the appliance otherwise. Your more efficient dishwasher practices can also be applied to washing machines.
In recent years, more and more properties listed for sale require visitors to take off their shoes before entering the premises. Homebuyers and agents either benefit from wearing shoes that slip off easily, or will be offered surgical booties to put over their shoes and keep the floors clean. As annoying as it might be for someone to ask you to take your shoes off before coming inside, there is a good reason to leave your shoes outside.
Taking your shoes off before coming inside isn’t just a growing trend among home sellers, but more and more Americans are doing like the Japanese and Scandinavians by making it a regular rule. Not only is this better for your floors – and redoing floors can get expensive – but the fact is, our shoes pick up a lot of dirt, bacteria and toxins. Walking around on the street, no matter how clean it might look, we step in chemicals, feces and dirt.
Much of what is on our shoes will transfer to our floors, whether on tile or into carpeting, creating a home environment that is filled with potentially harmful things. Bacteria on shoes continues to build up, day after day, thus making the soles of our shoes some of the dirtiest objects in our homes. For those with children who play on the floor, it can be unsettling to think of a child rolling around in whatever your shoes might have tracked in from the bathroom floor of the restaurant you stopped in earlier in the day.