There’s always room for improvement in a household’s quest to go green. From how you use your appliances to the way you consume and dispose of food, every lifestyle choice you make at home presents an opportunity to be more eco-friendly. Adopting more sustainable practices has obvious environmental benefits and helps to improve quality of life, but it can also increase your home value and in some cases may generate extra cash.
The kitchen is responsible for a decent portion of your home’s energy output. Choosing energy-efficient appliances can help to improve your household’s sustainability by using less energy. Reusable materials go a long way in the kitchen as well. Even seemingly small changes like switching from single use to reusable grocery bags and eliminating paper towels can make an impact. Using natural cleaning products will keep your kitchen cleaner longer while improving your home’s air quality, and being mindful about water usage can save on utility bills.
To further improve your home’s sustainability, consider planting an herb garden. This helps to cut down on repeatedly buying spices and seasonings at the grocery store while cultivating a natural ambience in your home. (And they’re fun to cook with, too!) Do indoor plants need sunlight? Of course, so be sure to position your indoor garden in an area where your plants have direct access. Once you’ve picked out a spot, decide which herbs you’d like to grow. Some of the most common herbs are easy to grow and will pair well with whatever’s on the menu—basil, thyme, cilantro, parsley, oregano, etc.
The first step in becoming more energy efficient at home is understanding your energy output. Once you understand your household’s habits, you can identify which cutbacks will help you chart a more sustainable path forward. Energy-efficient lightbulbs can help you save on utility bills. Because they use less energy that standard lightbulbs, they typically last longer as well. Make sure your home is properly insulated and your windows’ caulking and weatherstripping is in good condition. Air leaks and poor insulation waste energy and will cause spikes in your utility bills.
Every household produces some sort of waste, but it’s how that waste is treated that makes all the difference for the environment. Clean your recycling to make it easier to process and do your best to only buy what you plan to eat. Start a compost bin for extra food scraps or consider other agricultural solutions for disposing of it. Consider buying items like shampoo, conditioner, moisturizers, and the like in bulk to cut down on packaging waste. Reusable glass containers or jars will help you portion out meals and provide a useful way to store bulk items like rice and beans.
Yes, making the switch to solar energy comes with significant upfront costs. But an investment in solar is not just an investment in the health of the planet, it can increase your home value as well. The energy savings you’ll generate in the long-term will depend on your household’s level of consumption and the power generated by your solar panels. And if you’re generating more power than you’re consuming, you may be able to sell the surplus energy back to the grid. For more information on solar-based incentives and tax breaks by state, visit DSIRE (Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency®).
Even for the green thumbs, there’s opportunity to go greener at home. A garden is only as healthy as its soil. Mulching is vital to soil health and helps to reduce weed growth. Animal manure also has the power to enrich garden soil, both as a fertilizer and conditioner. Organic weed killers made with natural ingredients will maintain your garden’s health while keeping unwanted weeds at bay. Apply this same organic mindset to dealing with slugs as well. Certain types of slug bait may possess certain chemicals that do more harm than good, especially if you have farm animals on your property like chickens or goats.
Before you begin your next cycle in the laundry room, consider some methods of reducing energy. Because the heating of water is responsible for a majority of the energy generated by doing laundry, using cold water can help you save on energy costs. Cold water is also gentler on clothing. Clean the dryer vent and filter regularly to keep it unclogged and running efficiently. Consider hang-drying when possible, and in warmer months, air dry your clothes to save a dryer cycle.
For more information on sustainable living, helpful advice on home upgrades, plus tips on DIY home projects and more, visit the Living section of our blog.
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