Green Home, Eco-Friendly Home Improvement Ideas
Today, going green at home is about much more than simply recycling whenever you can and switching lights off when you leave a room. Thanks to advances in modern technology, there are now several upgrades you can make to your home to ensure that its impact on the environment, and your carbon footprint, is as low as possible.
Living an eco-friendlier life at home is something that’s suitable for everybody’s budget. From expensive upgrades to your home like solar panels and smart thermostat systems, to more accessible-to-everyone solutions like energy saving lightbulbs and free strategies you can implement around the home, no matter your home improvement budget, you can afford to live a greener home life.
Regardless of whether you’ve decided to go green to reduce your carbon footprint, save money, or just to see whether or not it’s easy enough for you to do it – every step that you take towards an environmentally friendlier household counts towards making our planet a healthier place to be.
If you’re just starting out, then there are plenty of things you can get started with. Read on for your ultimate guide to sustainable home living.
#1. Going Green with Your Home’s Energy:
Energy use in your home is probably one of the biggest contributors to your carbon footprint. We’re all guilty of doing things like running the heating system when it’s not really needed, leaving lights on when leaving a room, neglecting to get appliances and other home systems maintained regularly, and leaving electricals on standby. These things all seem harmless, but the truth is that they could all be costing you – and causing damage to the environment.
How to conserve more energy:
Small changes: Conserving as much energy as you can is one of the most important things that you can do to live a greener lifestyle and lower your carbon footprint – and no matter how small the amount of energy you manage to save, it all adds up. Over time, hitting the off switch on electricals instead of leaving them on standby can save a significant amount of energy, and you might even begin to see a difference on your energy bills. And, switching to energy saving light bulbs means that not only will your bulbs last longer compared to regular ones, they’ll also use less energy and help you save money over time.
When it comes to really saving energy in your home, then it’s important to make sure that the places where the most energy is being used are regularly maintained and kept in good repair. For example, your home’s heating system can end up working overtime to keep your home at the right temperature if it’s not in good repair – this not only increases your risk of being without heat in the winter due to a breakdown, but also means that you’ll be wasting much more energy at home than you actually need to. And, the same goes for your home’s air conditioning system, if you have one. Check out Semper Solaris in San Diego; they offer a range of HVAC maintenance and care services including AC tune up and AC repair to keep your system in good condition and avoid wasting energy when keeping your home cool in the summer.
Consider switching to renewable energy:
One of the best things that you can do in order to make your home a greener, eco-friendlier place to be is switch to renewable energy sources. Not only can this significantly reduce your overall carbon footprint, but renewable energy is often much cheaper – if not completely free to use – and you can even make money from it by selling it back to the grid. Solar panels are by far the most popular option when it comes to renewable energy, but you might also want to look into other options such as wind turbines or energy derived from the earth, if you have the right type of location and land to do this. Solar panels are popular because they are suitable for almost any home – all you need is a roof that gets some sun.
Why solar panels?
Not only can solar panels help you save a significant amount of money over time, they are easier than ever to get hold of for your home right now, with several state-wide initiatives across the US encouraging more homeowners to go green when it comes to their energy. Once they are installed, solar panels tend to last for at least a couple of decades, and most come with a long warranty of 20-30 years, giving you peace of mind. When it comes to maintenance, solar panels require very little – keeping them clean once or twice a year will suffice. There are no moving parts, so it’s unlikely that your panels are going to be subjected to much wear and tear. And the best part – the energy that they generate from the sun is completely free for you to use in your home. Invest in a solar battery pack, too, and you’ll be able to store the surplus energy that you generate for use later or to sell back to the grid to use for local homes and businesses.
Use eco-friendly technology: if you want to go further than just turning your technology devices off every time they are not in use, then make sure that any gadgets or appliances that you have are as eco-friendly as possible. Look for Energy Star approved products, especially when it comes to kitchen appliances like fridges, freezers, washing machines and electric ovens. That way, you know that you are using much less energy each time you use the product.
#2. Establishing Greener Personal Habits:
Don’t forget that by simply being a greener person overall and making sure that you consider the environment in pretty much every choice that you make, you’ll be able to improve the eco-friendliness of your home. There are plenty of things that you can do which might not directly relate to your house, but are certainly lifestyle changes that can help you reduce your carbon footprint and help you become a greener, more eco-conscious person all round.
Eat less meat:
Being careful when it comes to the food that you consume is at the very heart of being environmentally friendly. Cutting down on the amount of meat that you eat can have a much bigger impact on the planet than you realize. Today, meat production is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gases worldwide, so simply cutting out meat or even just red meat for a couple of days per week can have a significant impact. You don’t have to go vegetarian or vegan – unless you want to, of course – simply having one meat free day per week as a family of four can have the same positive effect on the planet as switching to an electric car.
Reduce your food waste:
Millions of tons of food are wasted every single year – not only is this a massive waste of money, it also significantly adds to the amount of harmful CO2 created in landfills around the world. So, trying not to waste food as often as you can is a simple yet hugely effective method of reducing your carbon footprint. And we’re not saying you have to eat everything that’s put in front of you – a compost bin for leftovers, for example, can be a great way to put any extra food to work for you again. Whether it’s leftovers from your dinner or food that’s gone a little bit too far past it’s ‘best before’ date, then adding it to the compost rather than throwing it in the trash will ensure that you’ve got access to a free, natural fertilizer that you can use to keep your garden green. And, there won’t be any build-up of methane gas as food will not break down anaerobically this way.
Grow your own:
Talking of food, if you have the space to do so, you should definitely consider growing some of your own vegetables in your garden. There are many different vegetables that are easy and fun to grow at home, and you’ll be able to enjoy them knowing that they are completely organic and you know exactly where they have been and what’s been put onto them to help them grow. Potatoes, carrots, green beans, sugar snap peas, and even tomatoes are just some examples of vegetables that are great to grow at home.
Chances are, you’re already thinking about recycling if you’re planning to live a greener lifestyle. But, could you be doing anything to recycle even more, and even better? These days almost anything can be recycled, from paper to batteries and even your old car. So, before you throw something away, it’s always worth taking a moment to double check if there’s any way you could recycle it instead. And, bear in mind that even still, a lot of the items that we diligently add to recycling cans are still ending up in landfills – so recycle by yourself, wherever possible. This means cutting up old clothes to turn into cleaning rags, giving items away, or selling them on when you no longer need them, turning old bottles into vases or kitchen storage, or repurposing your old furniture with eco-friendly paint. There are plenty of creative ideas that you can get stuck into when it comes to recycling, and the best part is that you’ll have something new without having to go out and buy it.
Reduce your plastic use:
Plastic seems to have found its way into pretty much every aspect of our lives these days – but plastic does not biodegrade, meaning that once it’s thrown away, it remains on the planet for centuries. Plastic is quickly filling up our oceans and is one of the biggest contributors to environmental damage today – but even though it’s everywhere, the good news is that giving up plastic is not as difficult as you may think. Some ideas include:
- Invest in a reusable water bottle or reusable hot drinks cup to take out with you – most coffee shops and restaurants are more than happy to fill your reusable cup instead of giving you a take-out option. And, being able to use a water fountain to fill your water bottle will save you a lot of money compared to buying single-use plastic bottles.
- Bring canvas bags with you when you go grocery shopping.
- Buy fruit and vegetables loose rather than pre-packaged.
- Get a reusable lunch box to take to work.
- For occasions, consider non-plastic gift wrapping options – brown paper makes a classy alternative, or you could get even more creative with fabric wrapping ideas.
#3. Eco-Friendly Home Improvement Ideas:
If you are looking to invest in making some improvements on your home, then there are some options that tend to be environmentally friendlier than others. Whether you’re looking to renovate your home or just make some simple changes, it’s worth doing some research first to ensure that the work you’re planning is going to cause as little damage as possible.
Insulate your home:
One of the best improvements that you can make at home is adding high-quality insulation. Homes that are not well-insulated are much harder to keep at an ideal temperature when it is cold, and alternatively they are also difficult to keep cool when it’s warm outside. Insulating your attic, if you have one, and the walls in your home will help to trap the warm or cool air inside and make it easier for your home to reach and remain at the right temperature quickly. As a result, your home’s heating and cooling systems will not have to work as hard – and you’ll save energy and money as a result.
Invest in a programmable thermostat:
Programmable thermostats are becoming more and more popular and there are many options to choose from, whether you just want a basic version or a smart thermostat with all the bells and whistles. Investing in this for your home means that you can set your heating or cooling systems to come on at certain times of the day – in the winter, this means that you don’t need to leave your home’s heating system on all day while you’re at work just to make sure that you’re not freezing when you finally arrive home. A smart thermostat goes one step further; you can manage this from an app on your phone and control your home’s temperature remotely.
Plant some trees:
If you want to make your garden an eco-friendlier part of the planet, then planting some trees is a fantastic idea. Ecological sustainability is hugely important when it comes to eco-friendly living – things begin to fall apart when there is a lack of a stable ecosystem. Ensuring that as humans, we’re planting more native trees to replace trees that have been felled in order to make room for new developments is something that everybody should be doing in order to both protect the environment and improve air quality in cities and towns.
#4. Greener Transport Habits:
Transportation is another massive contributor to environmental damage – and with millions of cars on the road every day, it’s no surprise. Thankfully, there is a lot that we can do as individuals to improve our transport habits and become greener travelers. From getting to work or the store to taking vacations, making even small changes to your travel and transport habits can have an impact on the planet for the better.
If you can get away without driving, then you should definitely consider doing this – public transport is far eco-friendlier as it’s able to fit several people into one vehicle, rather than having several vehicles on the road. And, driving less is quite often kinder to your pocket – you don’t need to worry about paying for gas and your insurance premiums may be lower as a result. Getting rid of your car entirely could be one of the best things that you do for the planet, but if that’s not possible, try and find alternative ways of getting around as much as possible, particularly for short journeys. Walking and cycling are free, healthy and eco-friendly!
If some of your co-workers live on your route to work, then it’s worth considering putting a car or ride share plan in place at your workplace. Ride sharing works quite easily – everybody takes turns being the driver and picking up colleagues on the way to work, helping everybody involved be kinder to the environment in terms of transport, along with saving money on gas and parking fees. This is a great option if walking or using public transport to get to your workplace is not possible.
Invest in an eco-friendlier car:
If you’re unable to give up your car completely, or are struggling to drive less at all, then one of the best things that you can do is invest in a vehicle that is kinder to the environment. Hybrid and electric vehicles are great options and the good news is that there are government initiatives that you might want to take advantage of in order to get one cheaper – in some cases, you may be able to get your hands on a grant towards an electric or hybrid car if you trade your old vehicle in. With drivers being encouraged to go electric thanks to future goals to replace all vehicles with electric models in this next decade, now’s the best time to make this change.
Flying is one of the most environmentally damaging things that you can do – just short, domestic flights can produce massive amounts of carbon. If you can get away with getting to a destination without flying, then you should certainly try and do so – taking a train can be a much more environmentally friendly method of transport. And instead of taking vacations abroad, why not stay closer to home and explore some of the most stunning destinations in the US?
#5. Shop Greener:
Finally, there are many green practices that you can put into action when shopping to make sure that your spree is impacting the planet as little as possible. Whatever you are shopping for, there are plenty of things that you can do to ensure you’re going about it in a way that’s as eco-friendly as possible. Sustainable shopping habits are great to develop as over time, they will help to reduce the amount of mass production and waste that’s sadly all too commonplace in the world today.
Buy second hand:
Whether you’re shopping for new clothes, a new laptop or smartphone, home appliances or furniture, you’d be surprised at the bargains that you can get when you’re shopping second-hand. And, buying pre-loved items means that not only are you saving money, you’ll also make sure that these items don’t end up being thrown in the trash – and helping your local community by enabling people to make a little bit of extra money selling their old stuff. Check out sites like Gumtree, Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace and eBay, and visit local thrift stores to see what’s on offer.
Get groceries delivered:
Getting your groceries delivered to your home is not only more convenient, it’s also better for the planet. This is because rather than having several people driving to the store to grocery shop, there’s just one van dropping off all the deliveries, helping to keep traffic off the road and reducing the amount of carbon emissions produced.
From food to new clothes, the closer to home the products you buy are made, the less carbon will be created when they are transported. And, you’ll be supporting your local economy – over time, this can lead to a boost and you’ll probably see even more locally produced items to choose from. Plus, supporting small businesses in your area is always better than giving your money to massive organizations.
From reducing energy at home to shopping locally, there are plenty of small yet hugely effective ways to live a greener lifestyle.