Running an eco-friendly home benefits the environment as well as the homeowner. In making energy efficient decisions around the house, you will be doing your bit to preserve the environment for present and future generations. As far as the homeowner is concerned, energy saving methods at home are usually the most thrifty option. For example, reducing energy consumption and reusing household items are both green and frugal practices. So, if you want to help the environment and save money, here are six useful tips on how to run your home in an eco-friendly way.
1. Reduce, reuse and recycle
It is a well-known fact that we are guzzling our way through the world’s natural resources at a faster rate than they can be produced. We’re also living in a culture where food and clothes are mass produced; which leads to increased manufacturing pollution and a huge amount of waste. In fact, it is estimated that the average person creates 4.3 pounds of waste per day. One way to reduce your contribution to this problem is to employ “the three R’s” at home.
- Create meal plans at the beginning of the week and only purchase the ingredients you require.
- Be wary of supermarket deals like two for one as they can tempt you into buying more than you actually need.
- Use portion control to reduce the amount of food you eat per meal.
- Only boil as much water as you need. Measure the water in a cup or saucepan first and then tip it into the kettle, for an accurate result.
- Limit your showers to between 5 and 10 minutes.
- Always freeze leftover food to ensure minimal waste. Even if it is a small amount of food, it can always be used to flesh out a meal.
- Reuse plastic bags. They can be used for shopping again, as a bin or to carry your lunch. Or, stop using disposable bags altogether and use reusable carriers instead.
- Give your old clothes to charity shops or if they are in a worn state, use them as cleaning rags instead of paper towels.
- Use glass jars or takeaway containers to store dry food items like tea, sugar, pulses, etc.
- Borrow items from friends, family and neighbors instead of buying. And share your items with them too.
- Recycle everything you can, including paper, plastic, cans, cardboard and glass.
- Find out about the recycling services provided in your local area. You’ll need to uncover essential information including what day items are collected and the different materials that can be recycled.
- Read the recycle instructions on the back of packaging to ensure you are recycling correctly.
- Find out about responsible ways to recycle electronic goods.
- If you have kids, make recycling a fun activity using bright colored boxes, for example, in order to get them involved and teach them good practices.
2. Choose energy efficient appliances
Before buying new household appliances like tankless water softeners and washing machines, ensure they are green. This will allow you to reduce your carbon footprint and save money on your energy bills. These appliances are easy to spot as they will have the Energy Star logo. Energy rated products use around 10-50 percent less energy than non-rated appliances. In most cases, there will always be a version of your intended purchase which fulfils this criterion.
3. Go “off grid”
Coming off the power grid means ceasing to use public utilities and generating cleaner, renewable energy to be used at home. The more people who come off grid, the less energy we will consume from coal-burning power plants which are one of the main contributors to greenhouse gasses. Homeowners can choose to come partially off grid by creating their own electricity but rely on public water services as clean water is more complicated to generate. However, some people do the whole hog by treating rainwater collected in wells.
An easy and affordable way to reduce your reliance on public utilities is to install solar panels on the roof of your home. Contrary to popular belief, solar energy can be collected all year round, including winter. Any energy you don’t use can be sold to the grid. There are other easy ways to generate energy. Wind energy can be generated by wind turbines and is one of the cheapest and cleanest methods.
4. Renovate with recycled materials
Whenever you are carrying out home improvements try to use materials that are recycled and recyclable. For example, when you are renovating your kitchen, look for reclaimed wooden materials for cabinets and work surfaces. Second-hand recyclable materials and products can be sourced online, at thrift shops, antique shops and salvage yards. Even with more complicated renovations like re-roofing there are eco-friendly options. For example, you could choose roofing shingles made from recycled waste material. Before carrying out any home improvements, it is a good idea to conduct research into the most environmentally friendly way of doing them.
5. Use eco-friendly cleaning products
Many household cleaning products contain a cocktail of harsh chemicals that contribute to air pollution and can be dangerous to your health. Use washing detergents, surface cleaners and dishwasher tablets that are based on natural ingredients, or make your own. If you are unsure which products to choose, do some research beforehand.
6. Insulate your home
Insulating your home will keep it warmer, therefore, reducing the need to turn on the central heating and saving you money. Add loft insulation or upgrade your existing materials. If you can’t afford this, try some techniques to keep your home naturally warm and draught free. For instance, seal up any cracks in the walls and gaps around the windows, use draught excluders on doors and allow the sunlight to warm up your home as much as possible.
An eco-friendly home is easy to achieve, is morally sound and will save you money. We have presented six tips for running an eco-friendly home, but there are so many more. A good habit to get into when you are doing anything at home is to consider what impact your activity will have on the environment and research how you can reduce this effect.