5 Tips for a More Sustainable Home
As the old adage says, home is where the heart is. And if being eco-friendly is a priority for you, then it's only natural you'd try to make your home as sustainable as possible. We all know the importance of recycling and turning off electronic devices when we leave a room, but what else can we do? Whether you are ready to take just one baby step or take a giant leap, these tips will help ease you down the road to having a fully sustainable home.
Switch Cleaning Products
Across the U.S., Americans consume 6.2 billion pounds of chemicals and 4.5 billion pounds of toilet paper annually. That equals nearly 30 million trees lost, and enough chemicals to build two skyscrapers! Between the bottles themselves and the abundance of toxic chemicals, commercial cleaning products wreak havoc on the environment-not to mention your health. But you can create a more sustainable solution by making your own cleaning products with convenient ingredients that you probably already have in your home right now! Best of all, most people find that their homemade supplies are just as effective as any bought in a store.
A key component in the fight for creating a sustainable future is water conservation. And while cutting back your steamy shower time is a start, aerated showerheads and faucets that have been certified by WaterSense reduce water flow by roughly 30 percent without sacrificing water pressure. For many homes that means a savings of 700 gallons of water every year!
But the water we consume isn't strictly relegated to the inside of our home. Across the country, watering our landscaping accounts for nearly 9 billion gallons of water every day, almost one-third of total residential water usage. Instead of consuming, start saving by building a rainwater collection system. Every square foot of roof will then accumulate 0.6 gallons of water for every inch of rain that falls, making it more likely that you won't have to use any extra water to keep your lawn and garden looking lush and green.
Lighting accounts for close to 12 percent of every household's energy bill, but you can slash that percentage with one simple change. A traditional 100 watt incandescent bulb converts 90 percent of its energy consumption to heat, leaving a meager 10 percent to actually produce light. In comparison, LEDs use a fraction of the energy-usually less than 10 watts-to create the same amount of light. Best yet, since they also generate so little heat, their components are able to last far longer than even the best halogen bulbs, with most lasting up to 50,000 hours.
Though lightbulbs do use a lot of energy, nothing accounts of more of your energy bill than old, inefficient appliances. Energy Star now has a multitude of products that drastically reduce the amount of energy needed to keep your dishes clean and your food refrigerated, with some boasting an 80 percent reduction in energy consumption. However, nothing in your home uses more energy than your HVAC unit. In fact, close to half of every power bill is due to heating and cooling a home alone! Make your home more sustainable-and save money in the process-by upgrading to an energy efficient model. Be sure to combine that with a programmable smart thermostat to save additional 15 percent.
Converting your home to run on solar power is certainly not as simple as replacing a light bulb, but nothing does more to make your home truly sustainable than by making it energy independent. A decade ago, a renovation project of this magnitude was well beyond most homeowner's budgets. But with the passage of the Solar Investment Tax Credit and the overall price of photovoltaic (PV) panels falling considerably, this is a far more attainable dream with most projects costing between $10,000 and $15,000. When you add in the amount of money you save each month on your energy bill and the impressive lifespan of a PV system, most end up paying for themselves in as few as 4 years.
Regardless of whether your changes require a trip to the store or the hiring of a contractor, every step counts when it comes to making your home more sustainable.
Courtni is a freelance writer for Modernize based out of Waco, TX. She is a busy mom of two who fills her days with playgrounds and museums, and her nights with concerts and friends. Courtni's number one way to spice up any party is to be daring by being yourself.