Want to save the environment, but can’t afford costly solar panels? Are you eager to cut down on energy costs, but leery about putting a wind turbine in your backyard? Don’t worry. There are plenty of easy and affordable ways to “go green with a home makeover and stay within your budget.”
Here are some green living tips for doing environmentally friendly home and yard makeovers on a tight budget:
Start with a home energy audit. Check to see if your local utilities company provides this service. If it doesn’t, plenty of other companies do. The auditor should make a complete inventory of all your household appliances that use electricity and/or water. An energy audit is a good way to determine how efficient (or inefficient) your appliances are, and whether your home heating and cooling system is running efficiently.
Change your lights
Replace your incandescent light bulbs with more efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). The latter will last longer while using less power.
Water, water everywhere
Some modern, multi-headed shower systems spew out water at the incredibly wasteful rate of 80 gallons per minute (gpm). Buy a water saving showerhead that emits water at a rate of 1.75 gpm instead. You will save thousands of gallons a year.
Composting toilets, that turn human waste into natural fertilizer, are a great way to conserve water. However switching to a composting toilet is a pretty major step for most people. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of other things you can do in the bathroom to go green. Use recycled, processed-chlorine free toilet paper, organic cotton bath linens and a PVC-free shower curtain.
Magic carpet ride
Your home contains a magnet for dirt, dust, bugs, fungi, animal dander and toxins. It’s called a carpet—i.e. the wall-to-wall variety found in so many American living rooms. Not only is your carpet a dirt reservoir, but it’s probably made from nylon or some other petrochemical synthetic material. Use area rugs made from natural fibers instead. Make sure the rugs are stitched, not glued.
Instead of drowning your lawn in a sea of dangerous pesticides and chemicals, make your own bug and weed repellent from hot peppers and water. Some households remove the grass from their yards and replace it with rocks, gravel, wild flowers and native plants (hearty species that don’t require much water or fertilizer). If you do have a grass lawn, don’t feel obliged to constantly mow it. A “high mow” with a push mower gives grass the chance to grow sufficiently to deny shade to weeds, and hopefully, kill them.
Other simple suggestions:
- Don’t run the water while brushing your teeth
- Only use your toilet for its intended purpose, not as a ‘garbage disposal’
- Cut shower time to five minutes max
- Dry your clothes on an outdoor line or on a drying rack
- Wash your clothes in cold water instead of hot
- Use an organic, cotton or wool mattress and organic cotton bedding
- Turn your thermostat down two degrees in winter. Turn it up to 73 in summer
These simple methods will help reduce your carbon footprint while saving money on utility bills. Any structural upgrades you make to the home will be especially valuable, as green homes are increasingly sought-after by many homebuyers. With global warming quickly becoming a huge issue, it’s up to each of us increase our focus on environmentally friendly, sustainable living.