Once you become a homeowner, considerations such as your home’s carbon footprint, environmental impact, and energy efficiency take on a new urgency. Not only will prioritizing these issues help the environment, but you can also save money, improve your health, and increase your home’s resale value.
Still, an environmentally friendly lifestyle can also be expensive and overwhelming at first, and many people don’t know where to start. Don’t let these issues scare you away from making positive changes. Instead, start with a few simple DIY projects to make your home greener.
Install Energy-Efficient Replacements
Replacing traditional appliances with Energy Star models is another change you can make. As their name suggests, Energy Star appliances use less energy than older appliances without the Energy Star designation, which will save you money each month on your utility bills. If large appliances aren’t in the budget now, don’t worry. You can start by replacing any incandescent bulbs in your home for LED lights, which last longer and use less energy.
For more savings, replace regular lighting fixtures with ceiling fans and learn to use your fans properly. Run the fan counterclockwise during hot months for a cooling effect, then flip the switch during winter months so that the clockwise motion will help circulate warm air as it rises toward the ceiling.
Make Your Own Household Cleaners
Some of the most toxic products in your home are common household cleaners. Fortunately, replacing them with green alternatives is among the cheapest changes you can make in your everyday life.
Throw out the chemical-laden cleaners under your sink and replace them with homemade cleaners. You can find recipes for many chemical-free cleaners online, and most use easy-to-find and relatively inexpensive ingredients, such as baking soda and vinegar. To make this transition easier, invest in a set of essential oils to infuse your new cleaning solutions with the fresh, clean scents you’ve come to expect.
Upgrade Your Home’s Thermal Envelope
When experts discuss insulation, energy efficiency, and related topics, the term “thermal envelope” comes up often. One of the best ways to maximize your home’s energy efficiency is to correct any deficiencies in its thermal envelope — the physical divider between the conditioned air inside your home and the outside air. In other words, you’ll want to find and seal any air leaks in your home. For example, you can apply caulk or weather-stripping to fill any cracks around windows and doors and add more or better insulation to your walls, attic, and basement.
Compost in Your Backyard
Whether you have a full vegetable garden or a simple flower bed, composting will help you grow stronger, healthier plants. Of course, like recycling, composting also ensures that less waste ends up in landfills. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has posted some useful information on its website about composting at home. You can choose to compost in your backyard in a bin or pile, keep it indoors using a compost pail, or combine the two methods.
Remember that going green is not an all-or-nothing proposition. Even the smallest changes add up over time, and any improvement is better than none.