The first week of February was National Green Week; a week to reflect on what each of us can do to help our environment. However, thinking about the environment is not something that should just be a one-week a year exercise. Rather, it is something that we should all make a daily part of our lives, especially where we spend the majority of our time; at home.
There are many ways we can ‘greenify’ our homes and many of them require little to no cost, but instead just a slight adjustment in habits. In addition, in the end, being environmentally conscious will not only help the planet around us but it will save you money on your home energy costs and that should be something we can all get behind.
Here are 7 cost-effective tips for ‘going green’ at home:
Most of us have been aware of recycling for at least the past few decades. Still, many homeowners have not yet formed this habit. A growing number of municipalities now require some kind of recycling so if you haven’t gotten on board this train yet, the sooner the better.
Change your Light Bulbs
No, I don’t mean change your light bulbs when they burn out (yes, do that too!); what I’m talking about is change the type of bulbs you use in your home. Fluorescent or LED light bulbs are more expensive up front but they pay for themselves by lasting much longer and burning much cooler thus reducing your energy bill.
Turn OFF Unnecessary Lights
While we’re on the subject of lights, make it a habit to TURN THEM OFF when you leave the room or leave the house. Leaving a light on when no one is there to benefit from it is literally like throwing money away. Aside from the one or two lights, you may need to leave on for safety, take the time to cultivate the habit of turning them off when you’re not using them. By the way, the same rule applies to other appliances and electronics like televisions, radios, computers, etc.
Control Your Water Usage
Water is obviously a huge part of our lives and thus an area where we can find several ways to cut corners. Let’s start with the shower. First, install a water-saving shower head. Next, set a timer for each shower and stick to it. I know this might sound outrageous to some, but the fact is a great deal of water is wasted every year just standing around in the shower. In addition, don’t forget when limiting your shower time, you’re not just saving water but you’re saving the energy required to heat that water as well.
Now let’s move on to laundry. Unless you have some REALLY dirty clothes, most times you can get by washing them with cold water. In addition, try to wash them in large loads instead of small ones as the machine uses essentially the same amount of energy either way.
Keep Your Lint/Filters Clean
The operation of home appliances leads to dust build-up and dirty filters. It not only contributes to poorer indoor air quality, but it also forces these appliances to work much harder (use more energy) for the same level of performance. Clean the lint from your dryer after every load, change your furnace filter every 3 months, and dust all your appliances regularly. Your indoor air will be cleaner, your energy bill will be lower, and the environment will be better off.
Make Use of Solar Energy
“Wait a minute, I thought this article was on cost-effective green energy tips. There’s no way I can afford solar panels!” I understand. But installing solar panels is not the only way to take advantage of the natural energy provided by the sun. If you live in a colder climate, it can cost a fortune to heat your home in the winter. But you can cut back a little on your heating costs just by simply letting the sun shine in through your windows during the day.
Control Your Thermostat
Natural solar energy will help some but the best way to keep your energy usage under control is by simply keeping your heat turned down to 60 when out of the house or at night, and during the summer, keeping your cooling system above 75 if at all possible. The ideal way to accomplish this would be a small investment in a programmable thermostat but if you cannot afford that, it’s almost as easy to adjust the thermostat manually.
I hope this helps you on the road to saving energy and money. If you have any green money saving tips, feel free to share them in the comments below.
About the Author: Richard Simon is the Co-Founder of Realty AZ Central, a Phoenix real estate portal serving home buyers and sellers. Realty AZ Central offers a host of resources including free home seller websites, mortgage lender referrals, and a certified local real estate agent network back by a $1,000 performance guarantee.