What does it mean to live green?
For a lot of people, this concept is closely tied to ideas such as switching to solar-powered energy or installing a gray-water system. But contrary to popular belief, going green does not have to entail taking up major, costly projects. There are small things each and every one of us can do around the house that can significantly improve our quality of life while saving us a lot of money along the way.
Here are some simple ideas to get you started:
Water is one of the resources that is wasted on a regular basis through different habits. Whether it is washing the dishes, clothes, or showering and bathing, we tend to be unaware of how much water we use. At the same time, we forget that not everyone has access to clean, safe water soures.
One of the first steps we can take towards living a more sustainable lifestyle – and saving money on utility bills – is to try to raise awareness about water consumption, both our own and our family’s. Once we’re mindful of what we’re doing, it becomes easier to remember not to let the water run unnecessarily during any kind of washing up.
The next thing you can do is get practical and check all your faucets and shower heads. They can be leaky, broken, or simply older models use more water than modern, more efficient designs. In either case, it’s a great idea to replace them.
This is a pretty simple DIY project that will not cost you a lot. Many types of low water-usage or energy-efficient shower heads and faucets are available on the market at very affordable prices. They will decrease your water usage, and if you have many of them around the house, the difference on your monthly bill will be significant.
Switch to Green Lighting
Changing your lighting is another simple change you can introduce into your household. Replacing your old light bulbs with new, energy-efficient ones will save you both energy and money.
CFL and LED incandescent lamps last much longer than the regular, old ones – up to 5 years. They are more expensive, but when you take into consideration that one can last for years and will waste significantly less energy, it really comes out cheaper in the end. Of course, you still need to remember not to leave the lights on when you leave the house!
Seal All the Air Leaks
Air leaks around the house present another source of energy waste and increased utility bills. Luckily, it is a problem that can be easily solved by caulking and weather stripping.
Try to locate the leaks by checking all of your doors and windows – there will usually be a small draft there. Then, add weather stripping to your doors, or replace the old ones, and caulk or put foam on all of the other leaks.
Unplug Your Appliances When Not In Use
Many of the appliances around the house consume energy, even when they are turned off. They don’t use a lot, but it adds up when you consider how many of them you have. It’s a good idea to unplug your televisions, computers, stereos, and even your phone chargers when they are not in use.
If you don’t have the time to always unplug everything, then another solution is to get a power strip. It is a small, affordable control device that cuts power to all of those devices.
One appliance you could consider unplugging for longer periods of time is your tumble dryer. Dryers use a lot of energy. And there are free, natural alternatives for drying your clothes. Simply put a clothesline outside in your backyard or on the balcony, and use it whenever you can – especially during spring and summer when the temperatures are higher.
Program Your Thermostat for Energy Efficiency
Setting your thermostat to optimal temperature is a great way to save energy on heating and cooling. If you want to maximize your energy savings, the ideal temperature during the winter would be 68 degrees, and during summer 78 degrees. Even if you’re not used to those temperatures, don’t worry, your body will adapt quickly and your indoors will be nice and comfortable!
Another thing you could do is get a programmable thermostat. You can set it to automatically adjust the optimal temperature according to the season and the time of the day, as well as to turn the heating off when there’s no one home and turn it back on just before you arrive.
Water heating requires a lot of energy as well. We usually leave it on all the time, but that is not really necessary. Even if you turn it down a bit, you can save energy and money on your utility bills. 10 degrees lower than your usual setting, or somewhere between the ‘low’ and ‘medium’ mark is usually more than sufficient.
Save Money and the Environment
Living green does not have to be complicated or expensive. Just the opposite. With only a little effort you can make a big step towards reducing your living costs and taking care of the environment at the same time.
Do some research, get informed on the benefits of green, sustainable homes and don’t be afraid to make that first step. You definitely won’t regret it.