Columnist Alice Robertson shares tips for how to make a DIY eco-friendly home.
Going green is more than a fad. Making a conscious effort to use less energy and create a sustainable lifestyle is important for the environment. If you want to do your part and are looking for ways to cut back on energy waste, one of the best places to start is within your own home. There are many simple changes you can make that can drastically reduce your carbon footprint.
Be Mindful of Your Appliances
We all know we should turn off the lights when we exit a room, but sometimes that’s not enough. Your lighting can take up to 20 percent of your electric bill — that’s a significant amount. The quickest and easiest fix is to replace all the bulbs in your house. Though tedious, using energy efficient LEDs or CFLs can reduce your energy use by 75 percent. Not to mention, most energy-efficient bulbs last longer too, so you’ll have to change them less.
Large appliances, like your refrigerator or washer and dryer, are massive energy hogs but are expensive to replace. It is okay if you cannot afford to change these items out at the moment. When that time comes, be sure to invest in Energy Star appliances to make sure they are energy efficient. Though they may be more expensive, remember that they will be a huge appeal to future buyers.
Seal the Leaks
Drafts are a homeowner’s worst enemy. According to How Stuff Works, roughly 20 percent of household heat and cooling is lost to the outdoors through leaks in the house. That is a massive waste of energy that can easily be avoided.
Hire an inspector to conduct an energy audit to look for air leaks and where you can reduce energy transfer. Some things may require a larger investment on your part, such as installing double pane windows or adding eco-friendly insulation. Other fixes, like patching up leaks or straightening window frames, could be done with a handyman. In Austin, a handyman typically has a one- to two-day turnaround and can cost between $163 and $550, depending on the project. That’s a small price to pay for large savings down the road.
Reduce Water Waste
Taking shorter showers is not necessary for reducing water waste. Instead, swap out all your faucets and showerheads with low-flow options. Pricing can vary greatly on faucets, and if you do not think you can swing it at the moment, consider investing in an aerator instead (a six-pack of aerators can be purchased for $7.99). These generally cost only a few bucks, and you can install them yourself. Not only is this good for the environment, but it’s also good for your water bill too.
Create an Eco-Friendly Lawn
Often, when we think of creating an environmentally friendly home, we think of the house itself. However, what you do with your yard can have an impact on the environment. Gas mowers, mulch, inorganic fertilizer, and poor water runoffs can be causing more harm than good.
To reduce the need to water your yard, stay away from generic grass seeds. Instead, use grass and shrubs native to your area. They will require less maintenance and will be able to withstand local climates and diseases. Also, be mindful of using too much mulch, as it can cause erosion to the soil, and try to use homemade compost instead of fertilizer. When landscaping, remember to properly plan for growth and water flow. Do your research and consider consulting an expert to learn which shrubs and trees will thrive in your environment and how to place them.
Committing to an environmentally friendly home does not have to be an ongoing chore. Many of the above solutions do not require any attention beyond the initial setup. In other words, you can continue living your life with no interruptions. Since going green can be that simple, there is no reason not to do it.