Looking for a way to save money and help the environment? Go green! Following a green lifestyle is a great way to minimize your environmental impact, reduce your energy and utility bills, and live healthier. Ready to learn more about eco-friendly living? Check out our guide to living green below!
Understanding Green Living
Knowing what green living is can help you make sustainable choices in everyday life. Keep in mind that living green doesn’t require a huge lifestyle overhaul. Eco-friendly living involves small but meaningful steps—like turning off the lights and recycling—that can have a positive impact on the environment.
What Does It Mean to Live Green?
Living green is a lifestyle choice that embraces sustainability, reduces reliance on fossil fuels, and helps promote the health of the planet by responsibly using natural resources. Recycling is a great example of green living. The benefits of recycling include the reduction of items sent to landfills, the conservation of natural resources like water and timber, and energy savings at home.
Why Is Living Green Important?
Why should you go green at home? The average American wastes about 283 hours of electricity, 2,500 gallons of water, and 1,048 pounds of trash each month. In fact, Americans alone create around 200 million tons of garbage each year. Reducing waste and utilizing green energy can lessen the environmental impact for future generations. But a green lifestyle isn’t just about benefiting the future! Making sure your home has energy-efficient appliances, low-energy light bulbs, and good insulation can also help you save money each month.
What’s the Difference Between Green & Sustainability?
Though similar, when we talk about “green” and “sustainability,” it’s important to remember that they’re not the same thing. Green refers to the activities people can participate in to promote efficiency and minimize environmental impact, while the definition of sustainability is the use of natural resources in a way that will ensure their existence for future use.
Ways to Go Green at Home
Not only can going green save you some serious money, but it can also create a healthier home for you and your family. Because of how much time we spend at home, it’s one of the easiest places to start implementing an environmentally-friendly lifestyle. Take a look at these ways to be eco-friendly at home!
Use Energy Star Appliances
Replacing appliances like stovetops, ovens, washers and dryers, and refrigerators with Energy Star models are an easy way to live green without altering your lifestyle. These items use up to 50% less energy than conventional appliances, saving you hundreds of dollars per year.
Install a Programmable Thermostat
Leaving the air conditioner or heater on during the day can drastically increase heating and cooling costs. Go green in your home with a programmable thermostat. These handy devices can save up to 10% on heating and cooling costs.
Use Energy-Efficient Light Bulbs
Another way to reduce the amount of energy used in your home is by switching out standard bulbs for LED (light emitting diodes) or CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) bulbs. These light bulbs use between 80-90% less energy than conventional bulbs, saving about $55 in electricity costs over their lifetime. You can also save money and energy by keeping the lights off during the day, opening curtains and blinds, and turning the lights off when leaving a room.
Reduce Water Heater Temperature
The water heater is one of the most energy-draining appliances in a home. Decreasing the water heater temperature by a few degrees can cut energy costs. For even more savings, consider installing a tankless water heater. These models use coil systems inside the appliance for heating household water, conserving energy in the long run.
Unblock HVAC Vents
Around 25-40% of energy used to heat and cool your home can be wasted if your HVAC system isn’t working efficiently. Make sure your air vents aren’t blocked, and you clean your home’s HVAC system regularly so heating and cooling don’t drain electricity and work harder than they need to.
Install Solar Panels
Offset your impact on the energy grid by installing solar panels at home. Solar power systems have decreased by 50% in price over the last few years, making installation more attainable for homeowners. Plus, many states offer incentives for solar panel installation.
Plant a Garden
A great way to go green at home is to plant your own garden! Growing a garden is a convenient way to minimize your carbon footprint, save money on grocery shopping, and enjoy growing your own food. Do you live in an apartment? Create an urban garden out of containers and planter boxes, or grow your own vegetables from scraps!
Use Green Cleaning Products
Conventional cleaners can be toxic for both your health and the environment. Not only can the products be noxious for the lungs, eyes, and skin, but disposals can pollute waterways and natural systems as well. The benefits of using green cleaning products include better air quality, reduction of water pollution, and the elimination of bodily damage or harm. Swap your cleaners for these green household cleaning products and breathe easy!
Room-by-Room Green Living Tips
Now that you know the basics of green living at home, are you ready to learn how to make each room more energy efficient? Check out these easy ways to be more green in every room of your home!
- Install low-flow toilets and high-efficiency shower heads to save electricity and water. Low-flow toilets can save up to 27,000 gallons of water annually, while a high-efficiency shower head can save up to 3,000 gallons of water per person annually.
- Fix leaky sinks, pipes, or toilet tanks as soon as possible to prevent water loss and sky-high utility bills.
- Take shorter showers and turn off the faucet when brushing your teeth to save water.
- Update appliances like the oven, refrigerator, and dishwasher with Energy Star certified appliances.
- Keep the oven door closed while cooking. Opening it during the cooking process can let up to 25 degrees of heat escape, raising your energy costs. Also, open windows instead of using the range fan to save electricity.
- Replace your conventional faucet with a low-flow faucet. These models can lower water usage by up to 60%!
- Skip the automatic heated dry cycle on your dishwasher and towel dry your dishes instead. The auto cycle can add between 15-50% of operating costs.
- Ditch the automatic ice maker for ice trays you can fill up yourself. Ice makers can increase the energy usage of a refrigerator by up to 20%.
- Make sure your windows aren’t leaking. Leaking windows can account for up to 30% of heating and cooling energy use in a home. Either replace them with energy-efficient models, or add weather stripping to stop any leaks and lower your energy bills.
- Replace lamps and light fixture bulbs with energy-efficient bulbs.
- Even if appliances are turned off, leaving them plugged in uses “phantom loads,” increasing your energy bills even while not in use. Unplugging TVs, computers, speakers, and tablets can help you use less energy.
- Upgrade your TV to an energy-efficient LED flatscreen.
- An Energy Star certified washer uses up to 50% less energy than a conventional washer, while an Energy Star dryer can save up to $250 per year in costs. Pair that with the nearly 55 gallons of water saved by switching to a new washer, and you’ll see some serious savings.
- Use environmentally-friendly detergent and fabric softener that won’t pollute waterways.
- Wash clothing in cold water. Between 75-90% of all energy used by a washer goes to heating the water. For even more energy savings, air dry on racks or hangers whenever possible.
- Replace light bulbs with LEDs, which use 80% less energy than standard bulbs and can last up to 20 years.
- Seal up cracks in the garage floor, along the walls, and insulate your garage door. Cracks and poor insulation can allow cold or hot air from an attached garage into your home, raising your heating and cooling costs. You can also apply weather stripping along the entry door to prevent air loss.
- Since garage door openers are always turned on, homeowners can pay up to $200 annually just from the phantom load! Offset the costs by switching out your garage door opener for an energy-saving model.
- Replace any windows with energy-efficient ones that prevent air loss. This little hack can lower your energy bill by 15%.
The benefits of going green extend beyond saving money. Living sustainably at home reduces your entire energy footprint, ensuring natural resources will be available for the next generation. By following these easy green living tips, you can create a healthy, more energy-efficient home today!