You don’t have to build a LEED-certified house from scratch. Little changes in any house can make it eco-friendly, reducing energy costs and impact on the environment.
Here are 7 easy ways to transform your house into a more sustainable home, without ripping out the foundation.
Eco Home Improvement – Little Changes Matter
1. Replace Light Bulbs with LED
Switching out your incandescent light bulbs with LED bulbs will save you energy and trips to the store. LEDs light a room using six times less energy than incandescent bulbs, and can last up to five times as long.
If you’re nostalgic about the warm light of an incandescent bulb, you’ll be happy to know that LED manufacturers have come a long way in improving the ability to mimic warm, natural light. LED costs are also lower than ever, and continue to fall.
2. Make Compost in Your Backyard
Organic waste in landfills generates significant amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas. Composting food waste and yard trimmings reduces the amount of methane released. It also reduces trash pickup costs and general waste in landfills. Plus, it’s black gold for your garden.
3. Pay Attention to Your Appliances
Of course, one of the best eco-home improvements is using low-energy appliances. Energy Star-Qualified appliances use 10-50% less energy than normal appliances. Still, here are some general appliance energy tips you can use no matter what you’ve got.
- Fridge: Avoid putting your refrigerator in direct sunlight. By keeping it in the shade, it won’t have to work as hard. If you can’t avoid a nearby window, just close the drapes during the hours the sun shines directly on the fridge.
- Washer: Wash your clothes at 86 F to use 40% less energy than washing clothes at a higher temperature. Or, better yet, wash in cold water to save 85-90% of the usual energy.
- Dishwasher: Don’t pre-rinse, always run a full load, and let dishes air dry. A dishwasher uses far less water than hand washing dishes. In fact, using one can “save 5,000 gallons of water, $40 in utility costs, and 230 hours of your time each year.”
4. House Plants + Open Windows
House plants filter the air, and circulating air from open windows improves air quality and reduces mold. That means less need for cleaning supplies and their chemical byproducts.
Having a few living green plants around can also boost your mood and improve your health. It’s a simple touch that adds life to a home and makes it more green, in both senses of the word.
5. Use Plant-Based Cleaners
Vinegar is a non-toxic cleaner that naturally kills bacteria and mold. There are lots of excellent plant-based cleaning products for your environmentally friendly home. Without harsh chemicals, these are more easily broken down and assimilated back into the ecosystem.
Here’s a list of some of the best natural cleaning products.
6. Blinds and Drapes
On cold days, open your blinds or drapes to let the sun warm your home naturally. Then, close them to keep the warmth in when the sun sets. You can reduce your heating bill by 10 percent in the winter with this simple habit.
In the summer, reduce cooling costs by up to 33 percent with exterior blinds, shutters, or awnings curbing the sunlight.
7. Rooftop Solar
Of course, installing solar panels is one of the absolute best ways to maximize your eco-friendly home improvement. Capture the never-ending source of clean energy from the sun, and minimize or even zero out your energy bill every month. It’s a win-win.
Read more about the benefits and costs of solar here.