Minimizing our carbon footprint doesn’t just make us feel warm and gooey inside, it’s also our duty. For avid campers, living by the “carry in, carry out” motto is nearly innate. Why don’t we abide by a similar rule in our homes? It’s almost impossible to have zero impact on the environment when living in a modern home, but it’s certainly possible to minimize our impact.
Going Green While Saving Green
A lot of people think that “going green” costs too much. “I can’t afford that!” is the go-to response, especially when stories about solar panels costing several thousand dollars are passed around. In reality, going green can virtually cost as much or as little as you like and even save money on electricity! Every little effort adds up. A few free and low-cost ways to make your home greener include:
- Insulate your windows with stick-on adhesives. There’s no need to replace all the windows in your home with energy efficient models at once. Instead, swap them out one at a time or simply apply adhesive insulation yourself. Windows and doors are the leading sources of heating/cooling loss, especially in older homes.
- Close off rooms you don’t use. You know that spare bedroom nobody uses? Keep the door closed, close the vents inside if applicable, and consider adding an extra rubber stopper to the bottom of the door frame. Why pay to heat or cool a room you don’t use?
- Bake and cook more in the winter. Want to get toasty and enjoy more home cooking in the winter without drastically increasing your heating bill? Bake and cook more. It’ll make everyone gather in the kitchen and the heat from the stove and oven is a great way to keep cozy.
- Get professional inspections of all appliance annually. There’s a small fee involved, but ensuring your appliances are optimized and operating safely can save you a lot in the long haul. Plus, it helps extend the life of your appliances.
- Choose a reasonable temperature. If you’re wearing a sweater in the summer when it’s 90 degrees outside, you’re taking serious advantage of your A/C system. There’s nothing wrong with bundling up with socks, sweatpants and a hoodie in the winter, either. A reasonable, steady temperature of 68 degrees is considered optimal by the Department of Energy.
- Hang-dry your clothes. Not only is your dryer an energy-suck, but it also wears out fabrics faster. Hang-drying clothes, either on a line outside or with a simple indoor system, saves energy, saves you money, and eliminates your clothes from shrinking, pilling, and sporting faded colors.
- Utilize natural light. Open the blinds and let that Vitamin D pour in. Challenge yourself to use less artificial lighting. Not only will it conserve energy and finances, but it’s also healthier for your eyes and provides the absolute best lighting. Many people cover all or part of their window with furniture—even a small amount of coverage can drastically reduce natural light flow. Play around with furniture placement to maximize light entering your home. For bonus points, practice feng shui.
- Unplug when not in use. You already know to turn off lights in rooms that aren’t being used, but are you unnecessarily keeping appliances plugged in? Even when they’re turned off, a small amount of electricity is being used. Commit to unplugging, especially for appliances that aren’t regularly used.
Saving money on electricity doesn’t require costly solar panels, to force your family to wear three sweaters in the winter, or even much change at all! Challenge yourself to see how much you can save.