With the effects of climate change and the climate strike movement in the news everyday, more people are becoming more environmentally-conscious. Even though it might seem like your contribution is minuscule in relation to the problems worldwide, it all adds up. If Millions of people make that same small change makes a big difference. Being more eco-friendly will not only help you contribute to a sustainable environment but it can even save you money. Here is a list of ways to make your house more environmentally-friendly.
Be Water Aware
First off—you know water is our most precious resource, and it’s time to be conscious of all the clean water we flush down our taps. Firstly, take the time to fix any leaks, then look into ways to reduce your water use by installing a low-flow shower head, a low-flow toilet and eco-friendly faucets. Look for labels that identify the faucet as being low flow, which can be 20 percent more water efficient than standard faucets. If you are renovating look at installing a grey water system which re-uses shower and sink water in your toilet. There are also lifestyle changes you can make to save water, like not running the tap when you brush your teeth or shave.
Waste Less Heat
Heating is one of the biggest ways that you use energy, especially in Canada. And it can be very easy to waste energy in the winter months by leaving the heat on when no-one is home. The best way to remedy this is to have a smart thermostat installed. Smart thermostats can be programmed so that they only turn on at certain times of the day when you are home. For example, beginning to heat up just before you get home, and shutting off an hour or so before you leave the house. They also get to know you and your schedule to be the most efficient. Smart thermostats are a must for anyone looking to reduce their carbon footprint and decrease their energy bills.
Keeping it Less Cool
Running your air conditioner all summer long may make your house more comfortable, but it can take a toll on the environment. Using an energy-efficient air conditioning unit can lower your bills, energy use, and carbon footprint.
There are two types of eco-friendly air conditioning units: split systems and packaged central air conditioning systems. Split systems are the most economical and have an outdoor cabinet which compresses and condenses the air, releasing the hot air outdoors. Packaged central air conditioning systems use ducts, which go through the home’s walls or roof to connect with the air conditioner outdoors. Look for Canada’s Green Energy Savings Rebate which can save you up to 25% on new purchases at the time of purchase!
Keep the Heat
One of the smartest ways to improve your home’s eco-friendliness is to ensure that you use as little energy as possible. Investing in insulation is a great way to do this. Good insulation helps hold in the heat, meaning you don’t need to burn energy reheating the home all of the time. There are plenty of places that can and should be insulated including within the walls and in the roof. Also ensure the home has no air leaks that could lead to heat loss.
The Right Light
Another important thing to invest in, is the right light bulbs. More efficient LEDs are better alternatives to older, incandescent bulbs. Not only do energy efficient bulbs use less electricity, they also last longer, which means you don’t have to spend money replacing them.
Solar panels provide you with completely clean electricity and they sometimes even make enough energy to allow you to sell some back to the grid. Solar panels are certainly a long-term investment and even though it could take many years before you re-coup your investment, it’s a great way to be eco-friendly.
Stop the Loss
Windows and skylights are a huge source of heat loss. This can be countered simply through installing ENERGY STAR certified windows. These windows are double-paned which will keep cold air out in the winter and heat from the sun out in the summer. These windows also help protect your home furnishings with a low-emissivity coating, which reduces UV damage to floors, carpets, and furniture.
Replace old appliances
Did you know that household appliances, such as fridges, freezers, dishwashers and water coolers, account for up to 14% of the energy used in the average Canadian home. Look for appliances that are energy efficient, they have the ENERGY STAR logo. This label ensures that your appliance is using 5 to 10 percent less energy than its standard counterpart and reduces greenhouse emissions.
When you wash toxic cleaning products away, you are simply putting them into the water supply. That means water will take more purification before it is safe to use again. Check out Green at Home for more tips about about removing toxic chemicals in your home.
Renovate with Green Building Supplies
Use environmentally-friendly building supplies wherever possible when renovating your home. Items like insulation, lumber, and drywall are made with recyclable material. Environmentally-friendly insulation is usually made with recycled materials like newsprint, sheep’s wool, etc.
Sustainable flooring, made from recycled material, is a simple, yet effective way of reducing your carbon footprint. Sustainable flooring options include bamboo hardwood, cork, carpet tiles, and natural linoleum. Not only are these flooring options made with renewable materials, but they also improve air quality indoors due to their lack of Volatile Organic Compounds.
Talk to an Expert
Every home is different and there’s usually a great deal that a homeowner can do to improve the effect their property has on the environment. One of the best ways to do this is to speak to sustainability consultant or get an energy audit, they will be able to provide you with analysis and ideas for how best to make changes to your home. There are also many incentive programs available to help you improve the energy efficiency of your home.
More ways to live Greener:
From Architectural Digest, 29 Tiny Changes That Will Make Your Home More Eco-Friendly
From Huffpost, 50 Cost Efficient Ways to Make Your Home More Eco-Friendly
From the Art of Simple, 40 Ways to Go Greener at Home (Besides Just Recycling)